Over the last few months I’ve come to realize, victims are being left behind, while their offender becomes the focus. Headlines scream their names and shine a spotlight on what they’ve done, and hide the victim deep within the story.
In recent weeks, I’ve asked news reporters to recognize the victim in their coverage of a high profile case. Simply using a (#)hashtag with her name would help commemorate her. We must remember the innocent, we owe it to her and her family. This simple action reminds readers that there is a victim here amidst the horrific details of the case, and she must never be forgotten.
Earlier this month I attended a support group meeting, a potluck holiday celebration. The group is called P.O.M.C. parents of murdered children. How sad it is to attend these meetings, the requirement of membership is the last thing on earth anyone wants to experience. Even more sad, this is a national group.
I was seated next to a chaplain who works at a local correctional facility. Ironic right? I thought so too, to say I was skeptical would be an understatement. Clearly we’d have different opinions, but I was respectful and cordial. Naturally I quickly steered our conversation to victims, not inmates. After a few minutes, he made a statement that has lingered in my thoughts since. He said “victims are often forgotten by the state because the crime is viewed as a crime against the state, not a crime against a victim”. So they simply broke the law, all they are is lawbreakers. When really, they’re predators, master manipulators and killers. I must remind you, this is not his opinion, just his observation from his position as a state employee. He followed this statement with “ it’s up to you to remind them of the victim, be their voice, bring them back to the conversation”. This statement couldn't be more true.
I’ve found, when I tell Beth’s story face to face, the impact is much greater. It’s no longer words on a page. It’s a real story with a real victim and real survivors. High profile cases should commemorate the victim, and shun the offender. We must not lose sight of the innocent victims. Remember, they did not chose to be a victim.