• Board of Directors
  • Our Supporters
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Annual Report
  • Download Rack Cards
  • Crime Victim Responses
  • What is a Victim Advocate?
  • Crime Types
  • Support Groups
  • Community Support Program
  • Victim Rights

Victim Impact Statements

  • Suggested Reading
  • Core Training
  • Continuing Education for Professionals
  • Community Education
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims
  • National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
  • Missing and Unidentified Persons Awareness
  • National Night Out
  • Sign Up for Agency Updates
  • Revitalize and Thrive Campaign
  • Contributions
  • Giving Programs
  • Spark Your Heart

What is a Victim Impact Statement?

A Victim Impact Statement is a written or oral statement presented to the court at the sentencing of the defendant.  Many times victims, their family members, and friends of the victim participate in both written and verbal statements.  More often than not, numerous individuals write letters to the sentencing judge and only a few of those directly connected to the crime speak at sentencing.  Victim Impact Statements were created as an opportunity for the judge to hear how a criminal action has affected you and those that you love.  Victim Impact Statements are not limited to the courts.  Many times, probation or paroling agencies allow for an opportunity to present a statement as well.

How to Write a Victim Impact Statement?

As you are preparing your impact statement, you may find that using the following questions can guide you.  Remember that writing about your feelings may be very painful, so be sure to pace yourself and don’t feel that you need to have it “perfect”.  Be gentle with yourself and take as many breaks as you need.  As you are preparing your statement, you may find that the following questions can guide you:

  • How did the crime affect you and your family?
  • What was the emotional impact of the crime on you and your family?
  • What was the financial impact on you and your family?
  • Do you have any recommendations to the court about disposition (sentencing) of this case?
  • Is there anything else you would like to tell the court?

The above guidelines do not cover the totality of the impact of crime, but may be used as a starting point.  Victim Impact statements are unique to you and people have various ways of expressing how crime has affected them.  Even though guidelines are typically given to you before sentencing, and there is much flexibility in how you present your statement, there are things you will need to take into consideration.

  • Write simply and descriptively.  Your goal is to help the court feel your trauma. While nobody can truly understand what you are feeling, you can help others identify with your trauma by using feeling evoking words and phrases.  Using descriptive words can help people form an image of what you are saying.

Every morning when I wake up, I have to remind myself that my attacker won’t be able to hurt me today. If I don’t tell myself that I simply can’t get out of bed.  Since I was assaulted I have lost the full function of my right leg. I still have to go to the doctor for physical therapy and they fear that I still won’t be able to walk the same. I used to love to run, until my attacker took that away from me.  It hurts emotionally and physically to even make it to work in the morning. When I drive past the place that this all happened I try not to shake in fear.  I can’t sleep most nights without nightmares of my attacker. I so desperately want my life back. The life I had before he took my life away.

  • Do address the judge, or paroling authority, when you speak.  You may want to talk directly to the offender.  If this is something you want to do, ask permission from the judge first.  You can still say what you need regarding the offender through the judge.
  • Do ask permission if a picture is part of your statement.  More often than not this is allowed, but any visual aids you utilize will need permission from the court first.
  • Do write out your statement in advance.  Presenting a statement is emotional.  You may think you know what you want to say but when the time comes, your emotions could take over and your train of thought is lost.  If this occurs, you can read directly from your statement.
  • Do have an alternate person that can read your statement in case you cannot finish.
  • Don’t directly express your anger toward the court or the offender.  Your goal is to express your hurt and your pain, not to blame.  The blame has already been placed on the offender, so now is the time to talk about what you have been experiencing through your loss.
  • Don’t use unsuitable language, as it will diminish the effectiveness of your statement.
  • Don’t describe what you want to happen to the offender in prison.  Please do not get descriptive about any harm you would like to see imposed.
  • Don’t put personal, identifying information in your letter and do not say it verbally in court.  This includes your physical address, mailing address, email address and phone number.  The offender will be provided copies of all letters submitted.  If you state this out loud in court, it will be another opportunity for the offender to contact you in the future.

What Happens to my Victim Impact Statement?  Do I Have to Read it in Court?

Preparing and presenting an impact statement in court, or in front of a paroling or probation agency, can be intimidating.  If you do not think you can physically stand in front of the offender and read your statement, have an alternate in mind beforehand.  It does not matter who presents your statement as long as you have identified this person in advance.  Many times, victim advocates are asked to present impact statements.  It does not have to be a victim advocate, and should be someone you feel comfortable expressing your words. If you submit a letter, this will become part of the court file, the prosecutor’s file and defense file.  Victim Impact Statements can also be included in the offender’s Department of Corrections file.  It could be subject to public disclosure.  This is why it is essential to not include contact information in your statements, written or verbally.

Why Write a Victim Impact Statement?

It is not mandatory you write an impact statement.  This is a right you have but not one you have to participate in.  Many choose not to participate.  There are several reasons why Victim Impact Statements are beneficial.  The reasons stated below are just a few.

  • The judge gets to hear your side of the story.  This is usually the first time this occurs.  Throughout the criminal justice process, the focus is on the offender.  Hearing from those that are affected by the crime puts a face with an often forgotten victim.
  • You have a chance to tell the judge how you want sentencing to occur.  More often than not, cases conclude by a plea offer.  Many times the prosecutor and defense have agreed to a recommended amount of time.  The judge is not bound by that agreement.  You can make a difference in the amount of time an offender receives by speaking up.  This is true in cases that go to trial as well.
  • You have the opportunity to address the court, and the offender by way of the court, about how the crime has affected you.  Many find this helpful in the journey of victimization.  Letting those know how they harmed you can be beneficial for emotional well-being.
  • The impact statement becomes part of the offender’s permanent file.  It is a reminder of the harm they caused you.

***Please note, if you are not able to download the VIS samples below, please try a different web browser and/or clear your web history/cache. Thank you.

VIS Assault Example

VIS Vehicular Assault Example

VIS Assault Example - Spanish

VIS Vehicular Assault Example - Spanish

VIS Attempted Homicide Example

If you have any questions or would like help with a Victim Impact Statement please  contact us .

Abusers may monitor your phone, TAP HERE to more safely and securely browse DomesticShelters.org with a password protected app.

1. Select a discrete app icon.

victim personal statement domestic violence examples

Next step: Custom Icon Title

2. Change the title (optional).

Domestic Shelters logo

How to Write a Victim Impact Statement

Domestic abuse survivors have the right to tell a judge how a crime has affected them.

  • By Amanda Kippert
  • Jan 15, 2024

How to Write a Victim Impact Statement

A victim impact statement is a written account of how a victim, their family members or friends have been impacted by the actions of a perpetrator. Not only relegated to domestic violence crimes, victim impact statements can be submitted by the victim of any offense. They are given to a judge often at or before the sentencing of a defendant. Though not required, they are a right that victims can exercise if they so choose to. The impact statement can be the first time the judge hears the victim’s side in their own words, or through the words of a loved one. 

Victim impact statements can also be the first time a survivor or their loved ones may address the perpetrator directly if they feel comfortable doing so. We saw a powerful example of this in the 2018 trial of Larry Nassar, the former team doctor for the USA Gymnastics team who sexually abused at least 265 girls and women over the span of his career. An astounding 204 women stood up at his trial to read victim impact statements aloud. One by one, these survivors bravely faced the court and Nassar himself to share how his actions had affected their lives. 

Kyle Stephens was only 6 years old when Nassar began to abuse her. She read her powerful statement to Nassar directly.

"You used my body for six years for your own sexual gratification. That is unforgivable. Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don't stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world."

How to Write a Strong Victim Impact Statement

Former attorney and current domestic violence advocate Barry Goldstein says victim impact statements can be a powerful tool to make a survivor heard. 

“[During the] victim’s rights movement this was one of the things that was implemented. It can be a factor in determining a defendant’s sentence,” explains Goldstein. 

“In the case of domestic violence,” he says, “It can be dangerous to read it in front of an abuser, but sometimes, they [the survivor] do want the abuser to know what they did.” While many people could know an abuser from the persona they display in public, it may be very different from how he acted behind closed doors. 

“Many court professionals fail to realize this, and that’s a piece of context to definitely include,” says Goldstein.

Receive New Helpful Articles Weekly

Questions to ask before writing a victim impact statement.

Advocates suggest domestic violence survivors or support persons ask themselves the following questions before beginning to write a victim impact statement. These questions can help the writer figure out what they want to say to a judge and how they want to say it. 

  • What kind of emotional impact has the crime had on you?
  • How has your ability to relate to other people changed as a result of this?
  • What specific injuries are you suffering due to the crime?
  • What kind of financial impact has the crime had on you? Did you have to miss work, move or are you facing substantial hospital or therapy bills?
  • How long do you expect to receive treatment as a result of this crime?
  • How else has your life or your family’s life changed as a result of this criminal’s actions?
  • If you are a friend or loved one of the victim, talk a little about victim and what kind of person he or she was. What kind of relationship did you have with them?

Advocates warn not to put personal information into the statement, like your address, phone number, email address, place of employment or where your children go to school. The offender will be able to view a copy of this statement.

victim personal statement domestic violence examples

Writing a Statement After Her Sister’s Murder 

Tene Goodwin wrote a victim impact statement after her younger sister, Taitu Goodwin, was murdered in 2019 by an ex-boyfriend. 

“She was a victim of domestic violence during the relationship. When she ended it, he broke into her house and killed her,” Tene says. 

The sisters were very close. “My life was essentially destroyed and also the same for my family,” Tene says.

In her statement, Tene described how her sister’s life was just beginning, how she had recently graduated with a master’s degree in law and international trade and started a new career just six months prior. She had a family who loved her, especially her young nephew and nieces. She wrote how it was all taken away just three months after her sister’s 27th birthday by a jealous, hateful ex-boyfriend who refused to let her end a relationship and murdered her instead.

Tene says she suffered severe panic attacks in the aftermath of her sister’s murder. She couldn’t be around people she didn’t know, especially men. She couldn’t go to work or barely even leave the house. The rest of her family was just as traumatized. 

She says getting it down on paper was therapeutic. 

“Before I wrote the statement, any time I had a panic attack or felt on the brink of despair, I felt extreme guilt because I thought, ‘I wasn't the one murdered. I shouldn’t be feeling this way.' But after writing down the impact of her murder on me I realized the way I felt was valid,” says Tene.

Ultimately, Tene decided not to submit the victim impact statement. 

“Testifying was its own traumatic event and afterward, in my emotional exhaustion, I just .. I didn’t have the energy. But more importantly, I felt like the act of writing it was what gave me the courage to be able to testify and so it had served its purpose.”

She hopes other survivors find the courage to write their own victim impact statements. 

“There's so much silence around domestic violence crimes and I think it’s [victim impact statements] a way to regain strength by using your voice to speak up about what was done to you. Oftentimes there's a lot of gaslighting in domestic violence, so for victims to be able to assert their experience and the impact on them can be pivotal to their healing.”

Victim Impact Statements Don’t Guarantee Harsher Sentences

Stephanie wrote a victim impact statement after being the survivor of an armed robbery. 

“A friend and I were robbed by a stranger coming out of a Subway. We were held at gunpoint but managed to run away in two different directions. My friend slipped on ice, the gunman caught up to him, pointed the gun into his abdomen and said he'd shoot him if I didn't return.”

Stephanie went back to the robber who put the gun to her head. He forced Stephanie and her friend to walk to an abandoned house where he said he was going to kill them, but they were able to run away. The robber fired his gun, but Stephanie and her friend escaped unharmed.  

She chose to write a victim impact statement but says it didn’t have the effect she hoped for. 

“Words didn't hold a candle to what had happened in my body. I thought my testimony should be sufficient because I covered a lot of the same territory in both… I tried to share the impact of what had happened but, so soon after the incident, I was still in shock and couldn't even process it.”

Stephanie felt like her statement didn’t make a big difference in sentencing. 

“The judge didn't even sentence him to required minimums, somehow. He should have gotten at least 25 years and got seven.”

Goldstein says that whether the victim impact statement affects sentencing “very much depends on the judge.” 

“Sometimes they read them and sometimes they don’t,” he acknowledges. This means that survivors who chose to write them should know this going in. Is the potential retraumatization of reading the statement out loud worth it?

Justice can look different to different survivors. A victim impact statement may be a part of that, or it may not. Read, “ What Does Justice Look Like for Abuse Survivors ?” for more information. 

Donate and change a life

Your support gives hope and help to victims of domestic violence every day.

Share this article on any of these platforms


Related topics for you

Know When an Abuser is Released from Prison or Jail

Know When an Abuser is Released from Prison or Jail

Threatened Not to Testify

Threatened Not to Testify

What Happens When You Press Charges for Domestic Violence?

What Happens When You Press Charges for Domestic Violence?

Taking the Stand in Domestic Violence: Tips for Testifying

Taking the Stand in Domestic Violence: Tips for Testifying

Ask Amanda: I Feel Guilty for Putting Him Away

Ask Amanda: I Feel Guilty for Putting Him Away

Explore additional topics.

  • Around the World
  • Child Custody
  • Childhood Domestic Violence
  • Comprehensive Guides
  • Diversity Matters
  • Ending Domestic Violence
  • Escaping Violence
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Identifying Abuse
  • In the News
  • Protection Orders
  • Safety Planning
  • Survivor Stories

Looking for someone to speak with? Enter your location to find phone numbers for domestic violence experts in your area.

Have a question about domestic violence? Type your question below to find answers.

Get Help Now

Find a domestic violence advocate who can help near you.

Receive news and helpful articles weekly

We'll never spam you or sell your information. If you have any questions about how we protect your data, check out our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • DomesticShelters.org Editorial Policy
  • Advertise With DomesticShelters.org

victim personal statement domestic violence examples

Welcome to DomesticShelters.org, a trusted Bright Sky US partner. On DomesticShelters.org, you will find free domestic violence resources such as:

  • Searchable directory of domestic violence programs and shelters in the United States and Canada
  • Articles, videos, and helpful tools for people experiencing and working to end domestic violence
  • Links to other helpful resources

The Bright Sky US website is still open on your browser in a separate tab, so you can return to the Bright Sky US website anytime.

'I refuse to live my life as a victim of you'

the words 'I am strong' written on a mirror

Those were the final words that Jane* delivered to her tormentor in the South Australian District Court in a powerful statement about survival in the face of horrific domestic violence.

Jane has given the ABC permission to tell her story, but for legal reasons the ABC cannot publish her name, or her former partner's.

He was found guilty by a jury earlier this year of raping Jane, and is awaiting sentencing.

During a powerful victim impact statement, she told the court she met her abuser at 19 years of age and was completely charmed.

He was a big dreamer, happy and free.

But after six months, she started to see cracks.

It wasn't long before her world descended into a cycle of abuse that ended with him killing her 12-week-old puppy in front of her two sons.

"The children saw things they should never see," she said in her victim impact statement.

"Your son was so frightened of you, he would flinch in fear as you walked passed.

"I tried to protect them from the violence and the pain. But they did see the violence towards me and the animals and for this, I feel great shame."

Lego and various other toys on a wooden floor

It is estimated that as many as one in four Australian women — more than 2.1 million in total — have experienced at least one incident of violence from an intimate partner since the age of 15.

Support groups have repeatedly warned of the problem being passed down through generations, as children grow up to imitate their parents.

In Jane's case, she said she was "heartbroken" when one of her sons began verbally abusing her when he was just a toddler.

"Our eldest son saw you disrespect me, and women in general, with your actions and derogative words," she said.

"I felt heartbroken when, at two years of age, he innocently, without knowing the meaning, started to call me c*** instead of mum because he heard you call me that so often, he thought that was my name.

"Our sons witnessed the regular torture and eventual death of our dog at your hands. And you blamed your three-year-old son for your actions."

Jane said over six years, her partner inflicted so many acts of violence that she could not "compress [them] into one statement".

He has denied domestic violence existed within the relationship.

Counsel, representing the man, told the court his client denied Jane's interpretation of their relationship.

"The phenomenon of couples separated, and thereafter having quite divergent views of what the relationship was and how it appeared, is something that is grappled with daily by the family courts — not often the criminal counts," he said.

Abuse was physical, sexual and financial

In hindsight, Jane said she could clearly see the "cycle of violence and control" that she was in but, at the time, had no idea how dangerous her life would become, and how much things would change.

"When we met, I had no idea that you already knew a lot about me, including that I was expecting a large inheritance," she said.

"An inheritance that you drained within nine short months, leaving me with nothing but debt."

two dog bowls on the floor with a woman in the background.

A common tactic of domestic abusers is to emotionally manipulate their partners, resulting in feelings of isolation and entrapment.

A Personal Safety Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that 80 per cent of women who had experienced violence from a current partner had never contacted the police.

Fear of revenge and further violence was the most common reason for remaining silent, according to a study conducted in NSW.

Jane said her partner isolated her from family and friends, ensuring he was her only support and described him as "coercive, manipulative and controlling".

"You physically, sexually, emotionally and financially abused me when I had nowhere to go," she said.

"Within 12 months of meeting you, I was sleeping in a car — I was no longer independent or able to return home as my parents didn't like you.

"I became completely dependent on you in every way and couldn't make the simplest of decisions without your approval. You put down steady roots of control long before you showed any signs of violence towards me.

"You did this so I would accept this as normal, so I wouldn't leave you when you explained that it was somehow my fault and somehow justified for you to harm me in this way."

'I was just so broken'

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one woman is killed every nine days — and one man every 29 days — by a partner.

Seventeen adults are hospitalised every day because of an assault by a partner or family member, recent data suggests.

Jane told the court that her former partner had two faces.

"There was the [man] who had a casualness to his attitude during the violence — it was systematic, you were angry when you hit me but your anger was controlled, you harmed me in places no one could see," she said.

"You seemed to have complete control of your actions.

"A purposeful behaviour with a slow escalation of systematic abuse and by the time our relationship ended, it was so common I learnt not to react and simply accept it."

A woman shielding her face

Jane said the other side of him exhibited complete coldness and lack of empathy "with eyes that turned black and emotionless".

"Your entire demeanour changed by putting me through your torturous routine until a level that terrified me," she said.

"It was then that you would take what you wanted from me.

"Sexual abuse which came at a point where I was just so broken — I had to be just the right amount of broken. I felt helpless and couldn't protect myself, I was barely able to protect my children. I couldn't protect my puppies.

"You made sure the only person in the world I could turn to was you. You were so convincing, you made me question my own mind — that I was crazy or being dramatic or that you had no choice but to harm me because I was being annoying.

Flowers in a vase with a woman standing in the background

"You abused me and that was my fault. And I believed you.

"It's hard to comprehend who I was back then, I wish I knew back then what I know now."

Leaving was the 'best thing'

She said the final decision to pack up and move herself and their two sons into a safehouse was "frightening, unfamiliar and scary".

"The emotional scars you left on our children are irreparable. They will carry the impact of your actions for the rest of their lives," she said.

"I felt helpless and great guilt that I was unable to find the strength to remove my children and pets from this toxic environment sooner than I did."

According to a recent study, a growing number of women are losing their children to child protection because of housing shortages that force them to stay in abusive relationships.

Other data shows that, across Australia, 26,500 children below the age of 10 required the assistance of homelessness services because of domestic violence during 2017-18.

In Jane's case, however, she said leaving was the "best thing" she ever did.

A woman sitting down in an empty room

"I shudder to think what would have happened if the children had continued to grow up around your abusive behaviour, your violence and animal cruelty," she said.

"I am strong and independent and I have built a wonderful life for me and my children. They have a safe and stable home with friends and family supporting us, we finally have happiness and normality.

"I refuse to live my life as a victim of you — I have worked hard to rebuild myself and I am now, so far from the girl you broke.

"I give you my words here today, I give you my pain, I give you my flashbacks, panic attacks — they are yours now.

"I walk away from this courtroom, leaving the darkness with you. I am stronger than you will ever know and you can never take that from me."

This article contains content that is not available.

  • X (formerly Twitter)

Related Stories

When the system makes it worse: child protection's dark consequences.


Man found guilty of violently raping woman in Adelaide Parklands

Benjamin Joshua Heldon (left) leaves court in Adelaide on June 7, 2018.

Raped, tracked, humiliated: Clergy wives speak about domestic violence

An illustration shows a woman, wearing a crown of thorns, standing in front of a priest.

  • Animal Cruelty
  • Community and Society
  • Domestic Violence
  • Law, Crime and Justice
  • Sexual Offences

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

  • Subscribers
  • Email Signup

Not a member? Register »

Davis Vanguard

California Attorney General Opens Investigation of Sex Ed Class Omitting Information on Access to Abortions   

Student’s vanguard: tribute to my graduate student instructor (gsi): the daily carver of classroom equality and justice , california lawmakers address racial and economic inequality through reform programs in silicon valley, court watch: man kept in jail for nonviolent felony charge – only able to pay $500 after recent college payments   , commentary: council seeks to develop goals for 2024-25 – including housing and economic development, update: missouri governor denies clemency to brian dorsey despite unprecedented support, guest commentary: davis silent marchers interrupt farmers market to call for an end to starvation in gaza, guest commentary: revealing the intersection of incarcerated trauma and industrial growth – an evidence-based exploration of cheap labor exploitation, san jose district attorney – once capital punishment supporter – plans to file motion to take incarcerated off death row, with tough-on-crime california ballot measure looming, justice reform groups mobilize, emotional victim impact statement by wife moves sacramento judge.

victim personal statement domestic violence examples

By Julietta Bisharyan

SACRAMENTO – During sentencing in a domestic violence case at Sacramento Superior Court, the alleged victim’s impact statement was read aloud, leaving a lasting impression on the judge.

According to Deputy District Attorney Anissa Galata, on Feb. 22 the defendant, Francisco Andres, committed a felony by willfully and unlawfully inflicting corporal injury on his spouse, resulting in a traumatic condition. The defendant also allegedly threw an object at the victim’s vehicle. Their three children witnessed the entire incident.

Represented by Assistant Public Defender Mirayla Freshwater, Andres pled no contest to the felony charges, and Judge Scott Tedmon sentenced him to five years felony probation and 364 days in county jail. He was also ordered to enroll in the batterer’s intervention program and to attend 90 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“I apologize, the smoke (from wildfires) is starting to get to me,” the judge said, his eyes tearing while reading the terms.

After Andres accepted his terms of probation, Galata proceeded to read the victim impact statement.

“I have so much to say; I can’t even process all of this. I’m stressed out, depressed—this affects me mentally, emotionally, and physically. I am drained on anything that has happened to me and in front of our children—for all of Francisco’s actions,” begins the statement.

The victim, who has been with the defendant for 12 years, asked that he gets mandated anger management classes for his drinking problem and to take parenting classes.

victim personal statement domestic violence examples

The alleged victim also noted that Andres has been an alcoholic for as long as they have been together, with his drinking always leading to severe consequences.

“I cannot leave my kids’ sight without them wondering if I’m doing okay. The safety and well-being of my children is the main and only concern I have in this whole situation,” the statement concluded.

After Galata finished reading, Judge Tedmon asked for the children’s ages. Andres responded that they are seven, eight and 11 years old.

“Your children, like any child, have one childhood. That’s all they get. They don’t get a do-ever for their childhood,” said Judge Tedmon. “And the mother’s statement today has made an impact on me. As adults, we can redirect our lives and rehabilitate to move ourselves in the right direction. Children don’t have that luxury.

“If you come back to court on a violation of probation and I’m sitting in that courtroom as the judge, I will take the information presented, but there is a likelihood that you will go to state prison,” cautioned the judge to the defendant.

With the judge’s warning, Andres was promptly dismissed.

To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9

victim personal statement domestic violence examples

About The Author

victim personal statement domestic violence examples

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

Related posts

California Attorney General Opens Investigation of Sex Ed Class Omitting Information on Access to Abortions   

You must be logged in to post a comment!

Newsletter Sign-Up

Monthly subscriber sign-up.

site logo


Sole proprietorship, limited partnership, compare businesses, employee rights, osha regulations, labor hours, personal & family, child custody & support, guardianship, incarceration, civil and misdemeanors, legal separation, real estate law, tax, licenses & permits, business licenses, wills & trusts, power of attorney, last will & testament, living trust, living will.

  • Share Tweet Email Print


How to write a letter on domestic violence.

By Claire Gillespie, J.D.

December 14, 2018

Reviewed by Michelle Seidel, B.Sc., LL.B., MBA

Learn About Our Review Process

Our Review Process

We write helpful content to answer your questions from our expert network. We perform original research, solicit expert feedback, and review new content to ensure it meets our quality pledge: helpful content – Trusted, Vetted, Expert-Reviewed and Edited. Our content experts ensure our topics are complete and clearly demonstrate a depth of knowledge beyond the rote. We are incredibly worried about the state of general information available on the internet and strongly believe our mission is to give voice to unsung experts leading their respective fields. Our commitment is to provide clear, original, and accurate information in accessible formats. We have reviewed our content for bias and company-wide, we routinely meet with national experts to educate ourselves on better ways to deliver accessible content. For 15 years our company has published content with clear steps to accomplish the how, with high quality sourcing to answer the why, and with original formats to make the internet a helpful place. Read more about our editorial standards .

victim personal statement domestic violence examples

  • How to Address the Ombudsman

You may have read powerful open letters on domestic violence online or in magazines. These help increase awareness about domestic violence and encourage more victims to seek help. However, domestic violence letters are used every day in a much more private context: to provide information in criminal court proceedings. A domestic violence letter to a judge is also known as a victim impact statement.

What is a Domestic Violence Letter?

A domestic violence letter or victim impact statement is not a requirement for domestic violence court cases, but every victim has the right to provide one, and it can help to show the sentencing judge how the domestic violence has affected you and your loved ones. You may read the letter out loud in court, if you wish.

The letter should be written in simple language in order to help the people in the courtroom understand what you have gone through, but it should also be written using descriptive words and phrases to help others identify with your experience.

You should address the judge when you speak, or if you wish to address your attacker directly, you can seek permission from the judge to do so.

Domestic Violence Letter Format

While there's no set format for a letter on domestic violence, it may be easier to write if you follow a particular layout. Begin your letter with an introduction, giving your name, occupation or education status and brief details of your past/present relationship with the defendant. For example, you may say that you have been married to the defendant since 2010, have been separated since 2016 and have two children together. However, do not provide personal identifying information such as your physical address, mailing address, email address or phone number, to protect yourself from your attacker.

The next section should provide details of specific instances of domestic violence, including the type of abuse (for example, kicking, punching, derogatory names, destruction of personal property and withholding finances). This section should also reveal the effect of the defendant's behavior on you, for example, it made you fear for your life and has caused you hurt and pain.

If you have children, you should also explain how the defendant's behavior has affected them. For example, perhaps your children don't want to go to sleep at night, have nightmares or struggle to concentrate at school.

You may also state what you are seeking from the court, for example, restitution and/or a no-contact order. Read More: Is Domestic Violence a Felony?

Sample Domestic Violence Letter

You can find many examples of a sample complaint letter for domestic violence online, such as this letter from Victim Support Services:

"Every morning when I wake up, I have to remind myself that my attacker won’t be able to hurt me today. If I don’t tell myself that I simply can’t get out of bed. Since I was assaulted I have lost the full function of my right leg. I still have to go to the doctor for physical therapy and they fear that I still won’t be able to walk the same. I used to love to run, until my attacker took that away from me. It hurts emotionally and physically to even make it to work in the morning. When I drive past the place that this all happened I try not to shake in fear. I can’t sleep most nights without nightmares of my attacker. I so desperately want my life back. The life I had before he took my life away."

A letter on domestic violence typically includes some personal information (name, occupation and employment status), a detailed history of the domestic violence, how the domestic violence has affected you and your children (if applicable) and what order you are seeking from the court.

  • Victim Support Services: What is a Victim Impact Statement?
  • You have the right to speak at the sentencing hearing but it is not a requirement.
  • You can find sample domestic violence letters provided in the link below.
  • The defense attorney may attempt to contact you; you do not have to speak to him.

Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.

Related Articles

  • How to Write a Victim Empathy Letter
  • How to Write a Letter of Confession
  • How to Write a Victim Impact Statement

Victim Support

Search Results

We’re sorry, no results were found. Please amend your search term and try again.

Find help near you

Select your country and county to help us locate your nearest support service

South Wales

0300 303 0161.

If you’ve been affected by crime, call your local victim care team in South Wales.-->