Saturday, April 04, 2009

Victim Impact Statement


When a person is found guilty of a violent crime in the state of Illinois, the victim (or the victim's family member) is given the opportunity to submit a victim impact statement. The statement must be written in conjunction with the State's Attorney's Office, and must be given in advance to the state's attorneys, and may be considered in the aggravation/mitigation portion of the sentencing proceedings.

Well, since the cabdriver got acquitted, I never got to do one. I don't even know that I would have done it though. Once I realized that I would have to let someone else help me write it, I kinda thought it sounded lame. Like, I would only be allowed to say things that the State approved of. Well, fuck that. Anyway, it doesn't matter. The point is now moot.

But I can write a victim impact statement here. Because it's my fucking blog. And it's sexual assault awareness month. Thank GOD... I was like, feeling so UNAWARE. Anyway...

Dear Cabdriver,

Over two and a half years ago, our paths crossed. That one night in July, it was a beautiful night. I haven't really thought about how pretty the night was until right now as I write this. It was perfect flip flop, tank top, summer skirt, weather. It was perfect drink outside, enjoy your friends, savor every moment of this glorious city weather.

It was a perfect night for you to cruise the city looking for victims.

The beauty of that night will be forever lost on me, as I am sure will the beauty of any future perfect July nights. That's on you. You took from me summer nights outside.

You took from me unlocked bedroom doors. You took from me open windows. Open blinds.

You took from me the color green. I was never a fan of black denim, but now it gives me flashbacks. Strong, vivid flashbacks.

You took from me my home. I had to move.

You took from me at least 20 minutes during the Illinois bar exam. The fucking bar exam! Something just hit me, and you were in my head. And you wouldn't go away. You took 20 minutes from me during the most important test of my life. All of a sudden I snapped out of it. Thank god I was able to. Sometimes I'm not. Sometimes you take my whole day. Like today. Honestly like, most days. You're always on my mind. Sometimes it's subtle, like a leaky faucet, that just slowly and methodically reminds you that something is not right. Other times, it's like I am stuck in a hurricane while concurrently being the hurricane.

You took from me some friends, and some family. I've never been the best communicator. And what you did that one night in July, was the nail in the coffin of my ability to communicate.

I don't trust myself anymore. I don't trust my decision making skills. You did that. That one night in July.

My great uncle died a week ago. To be fair, you actually had nothing to do with that. He was old and had cancer. I didn't know him very well, but I went to his funeral with my mother. In his eulogy, my cousin stated that my great uncle was the greatest influence on his life. At the luncheon afterward, the conversation turned to who in each of our own lives was the most influential. My mother, awesome lady that she is, said me. I, of course, said her. And there was a time that that was true. She certainly deserves to be called the most influential person in my life. But she's not.

You are. You took that title from her. and you have earned it. Every single thing I do is influenced by you. The way I walk to and from work. The way I talk to people. The way I colored my hair. The way I listen to sounds. The way I listen to nothing. The way I feel about my successes and failures. The way I eat, I sleep, I breathe. The way I hide from people who care about me. It's all about you.

I thought it would be easier after your trial two months ago. But, stupid me... I never contemplated you being acquitted. It's so much harder than I had ever anticipated. I actually cannot decide which was worse, the assault or the trial. Both of which you are responsible for. Maybe I'd be feeling better if I didn't have to see your scumbag defense attorney in my courtroom at least once a week. This week, I did my first jury trial, and won. I wasn't thinking about you. That moment was mine. My boss was IN THE MIDDLE of telling me what a good job I did, and congratulating me, when your scumbag lawyer walked right over and interrupted him to shake my boss's hand. So, by proxy, you stole that moment too.

I used to be someone very different. I used to be way cooler. I miss the person I was before that one night in July. I miss sleeping. I miss dancing at street festivals with awesome women. I miss feeling free and open. I miss my friends.

I try to find something positive out of this. Maybe this will somehow make me a better prosecutor. A stronger advocate. A more compassionate voice for victims.

Or maybe I'll go on, just as I am today. Easily startled and hyper-aware of my own mortality.

We are forever linked, Cabdriver. I will forever be your victim, and you will forever be my perpetrator. The thought of that connection that we will always share makes me want to tear my hair out and set myself on fire.

I hope and wish, Cabdriver, that whatever path your life takes, wherever you choose to go, and whatever you choose to do, you endure much grief and suffering. You and your family. And your sleazy attorney.

You took away the best possible version of me. And you took away summer nights.

Sincerely,

Grace

10 comments:

Butterflyfish said...

you are sincerely one of the most strong and eloquent women i have the pleasure of quasi-knowing

finaleofseem said...

I agree with Butterflyfish.

I also know what it's like to have those things taken.

The fact that you're going on ... that's enough. It doesn't go away, but for me, it morphed into something stronger. Something that won't take shit, and that won't allow people to hurt others without repercussions.

You may not feel it, but you are so very strong. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Harmless Error said...

I agree with the above wholeheartedly. Also, to turn to the positive, YOU WON YOUR FIRST TRIAL!!!!!!

Kristine said...

You deserve some wine for a little liquid peace. That's what I wish for you - peace. And wine.

You're not alone said...

Congrats on the win . . .hope somebody made you a sign.

Anonymous said...

Can I share my story? Cause I have been there.

But I was drunk and could never have proven that it wasn't consensual. I didn't need my J.D. to know that. And was camping, so I showered before someone convinced me to go to the police. It never even went as far as arresting the guy. Who was U.S. military. I can't get near any military men now without feeling scared. My husband can't let me go out without him without feeling scared. And what's worse, I can't stop feeling guilty, that I brought it on myself by drinking and talking to people.

But I had bad stuff happen to me before. My dad killed himself. And I know that, yeah, it changes you, and not always for the better, but it DOES make you stronger and eventually it will stop invading your head constantly.

I am in therapy. I really hope that that will make me get the best out of this. Are you in therapy? Cause it really is supposed to help.

Ren said...

This is the first time I have read your blog. I got linked to it through Grace the Spot, which I read on a regular basis...and I may have to start reading your blog just as regularly... :) Anyway, I just wanted to say that this is a wonderful letter. I hope it was as therapeutic for you to write it as it was for your readers to read! Thanks for sharing what was most likely originally intended for your eyes only. :) P.S. The conversations with your dog stuff is hysterical!!

virgo1sign said...

I do feel like your communication skills have been shit for the last while. And I undertsnad, as much as anyone could. I don't pretend to "understand" but I know what it's like to avoid everyone and to hide from them because you can't stand to see yourself in them, for what you "let"happen."
Don't let anyone steal you away.
You are too loved and too, well, for once, I don;t have the words to say what you mean.
Magic Vag

Sam Sachs said...

Poignant and powerful. I'm just sorry the sonofabitch didn't get a sweet taste of lady justice. You should be revered for continuing to work in/stand by the system that failed you. Keep chugging forward, sista!

Anonymous said...

I just happened upon your blog when I googled victim impact statement. After two long years of waiting, my nephew's murderer was just found guilty. I'm considering giving a VIS at sentencing.

That being said, I am also a victim of sexual abuse. It took nine years of therapy and work in a group setting to get through the feelings of guilt and hysteria. I am very sorry that you have gone through this experience. I wish there was something I could say to take that away, but in my group we were told to confront our abuser (even if he/she is dead) and their response (whether they lie or tell the truth) doesn't matter. By sharing in this blog you are confronting him and attempting to get your voice back. You sound like a strong young lady, since this was written in 2009, I hope you have found some peace.

But I want you to know that I am convinced I should write a VIS. You have helped me make that decision, thanks. You are NOT a victim, you are a person with a powerful voice.