Messaging as an Ongoing Process

Just after midnight on March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in the Prince William Sound off of the Alaskan coast causing the 36th largest oil spill in history (Baker, n.d.; Fearn-Banks, 2011; Holusha, 1989; Moss, 2010). Though the initial ecological insult was severe, Exxon’s poor response to the emergency is noted as having the most significance (Baker, n.d.; Holusha, 1989). According to Fearn-Banks (2011), the initial public relations response was swift, but the public perception, especially with the obvious absence of CEO Lawrence G. Rawl from the public spotlight, was that the company did not view the incident with the importance that it deserved (Holusha, 1989). “The biggest mistake was that Exxon’s chairman … sent a succession of lower-ranking executives to Alaska to deal with the spill instead of going there himself and taking control of the situation in a forceful, highly visible way” (Holusha, 1989, para. 6). Rawl made comments about being technologically obsolete as a reason for not responding to the incident personally, and in a later television interview, Rawl explained that it was not the responsibility of the CEO to read specific response plans, then he went on to blame the media for the crisis (Baker, n.d.; Fearn-Banks, 2011).

According to Fearn-Banks (2011), Don Cornet, Exxon’s Alaska public relations coordinator, rushed to the scene and instituted a plan focused on the clean-up upon hearing of the incident; however, resources were scarce and the plan was slow to implement. Alaskan oil industry regulations held that the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, an oil company consortium, was ultimately responsible for the initial response, which was soon taken over by Exxon. It was Alyeska’s involvement in the incident that introduced George Mason, an experienced crisis communications public relations expert for the company that represented Alyeska, into the spotlight. Mason worked with Cornet to streamline the media response and did much to limit the impact of Exxon’s poor media relations, even in light of Rawl’s disastrous commentary. Without the efforts of Mason, Cornet, and a few others, it appears that Exxon’s reputation would have suffered much more.

The primary issues identified in Exxon’s response to the Valdez incident, according to Baker (n.d.), are 1) a lack of resources and preparedness for a crisis of this magnitude, 2) failing to commit to prevention efforts in the future, and 3) the perceived indifference to the ecological shock.

According to Holusha (1989), Exxon’s response to the Alaskan spill was immediately identified as highlighting what not to do in responding to a crisis. Holusha compared Rawl’s messaging and response with that of the Ashland Oil spill and the Union Carbide incident in Bhopal, India, in which both CEOs responded immediately, availing themselves to the media to answer questions and respond to scrutiny.

The Exxon Valdez spill was significant, large, costly, and affected many industries and lifestyles in Alaska. Rawl’s response should have been immediate, and he should have taken responsibility to be apprised of all efforts being undertaken to rectify the situation. Legitimizing Rawl’s concerns of being a distraction to local efforts, he could have held frequent press conferences in the mainland United States, which would have limited the media’s need to send so many representatives directly to Alaska. This would have helped to show cooperation with the media as well as allow Rawl to address any concerns that the public might have. The messaging should have been that Exxon will do everything needed to return Alaska back to pre-spill status no matter the cost or manpower required.

Today, social media presents a unique opportunity for companies to address their public. Recently, Connecticut Light and Power utilized Facebook and Twitter, two popular social media programs, to provide real-time updates to their affected customers during a freak early snowstorm that put most of Connecticut without power for weeks (Singer, 2011; State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, 2011). Though there are still concerns that Connecticut Light and Power were unprepared for such a crisis, without the deliberate effort to maintain communication with customers, the corporate image would have been much worse, as Exxon experienced.

It is a common precept in crisis communications that crises will occur and hopes can only be made to minimize their effect (Fearn-Banks, 2011). While preparing for such a crisis, a focus on communication and messaging should be paramount. The more the public trusts that the company will respond to the emergency effectively, the more apt they will be to acknowledge the difficulties involved in such a response. Messaging should be open, honest, and realistic. Every effort to use a multitude of media (e.g. radio, television, print, internet, telephone, et al.) to maintain a sense of transparency should be used to promote messages that accept responsibility and sets realistic goals. These communications, however, should not be unidirectional. A conversation needs to take place where the public can have their concerns and curiosity addressed in a fair and open environment.

By addressing the concerns of all stakeholders in a timely, open manner, corporate images will fare much better even in light of the worst crisis imaginable.


Baker, M. (n.d.). Companies in crisis – What not to do when it all goes wrong: Exxon Mobil and the Exxon Valdez. Retrieved from

Coombs, W. T. (2012). Ongoing crisis communication: Planning managing, and responding (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fearn-Banks, K. (2011). “Textbook” crises. Crisis communications: a casebook approach (4th ed; pp. 90-109). New York, NY: Routledge.

Holusha, J. (1989, April 21). Exxon’s public-relations problem. New York Times. Retrieved from

Moss, L. (2010, July 16). The 13 largest oil spills in history. Mother Nature Network. Retrieved from

Singer, S. (2011, November 4). CT utility takes heat over winter storm response. News 8 WTNH. Retrieved from

State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. (2011, November 8). Winter storm October 29, 2011 (Situation Report #49). Retrieved from

Impact of Technology: Social Media and Cyberbullying

The advent of the internet and social media allows like minded people to easily seek each other out and share their ideas. As I see a growing trend towards anti-sematism not unlike that of the 1930’s, I begin to draw parallels to that time and imagine sociopolitical paths of the likes we never want to tread. It was for this reason and others that I made a simple post on Facebook and Twitter reading “I support Israel.” This proclamation was made to let my Jewish friends know in no uncertain terms that I would never sway towards anti-Jewish sentiment, and it also made my other friends aware that I would not support them if they should harbor such feelings. There is inherent freedom in the idea of free-flowing information; however, this freedom also comes with responsibility. The same technology that promotes freedom also simplifies efforts to conspire against ideas, governments, and sometimes individuals. It is this conspiracy against individuals that has piqued my interest. The use of the internet (and, other technology, such as cell phones) to conspire against individuals can be seen in the act of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying, according to Bill Belsey, the award winning author of the website “involves the use of information and communication technologies such as email, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others” (as cited in Li, 2007, p. 1779). Li (2010) goes further to include “exclusion” to this list. Exclusion is the specific and intentional exclusion of an individual from an online group. Further, Li (2007) hypothesizes that internet users are socially isolated and inept. This is certainly not the case. Li also discusses demographic differences in both victims and bullies, but the evidence from other studies prove confounding to any hypothesis regarding specific demographics (Schneider et al., 2011; Slonje & Smith, 2008; Smith et al., 2008; Smith, Mahdavi, Carvalho, & Tippett, 2006). Children do not seem either savvy enough or willing enough to block these communications as they happen (Smith et al., 2008). Further, children and adolescents are not emotionally stable enough to make this type of rational decision when confronted with cyberbullying; however, they also do not seem prepared to become emotionally stable enough to deal with typical adolescent musings when they become persistent, such as rumors posted to a website.

There is a real problem with social media and cyberbullying, but we need to call it as it is: bullying. By attaching the prefix cyber- to the act, we acknowledge the sophistication needed to perpetrate this type of bullying, which might egotize the bully. Most communities respond to cyberbullying by focusing on the technology used to perpetrate the bullying; however, it is more important to focus on the motivations and the social intolerances involved in bullying in general. By losing sight of the cause and focusing on the vehicle, no one will be able to overcome this problem, which is inherent, though sometimes magnified, in normal social adjustment and development of children and adolescents. Communities that wish to address cyberbullying would do well to educate the students about social responsibility, the rights and responsibilities of civic duty, and the different levels of appropriateness of various forms of communication.


Li, Q. (2007). New bottle but old wine: A research of cyberbullying in schools. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(4), 1777-1791. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2005.10.005

Li, Q. (2010). Cyberbullying in high schools: A study of students’ behaviors and beliefs about this new phenomenon. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 19(4), 372-392. doi:10.1080/10926771003788979

Schneider, S. K., O’Donnell, L., Stueve, A., & Coulter, R. W. S. (2011). Cyberbullying, school bullying, and psychological distress: A regional census of high school students. American Journal of Public Health. Advance online publication. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300308

Slonje, R. & Smith, P. K. (2008). Cyberbullying: Another main type of bullying? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49(2), 147–154. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9450.2007.00611.x

Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(4), 376–385. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01846.x

Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., & Tippett, N. (2006, July). An investigation into cyberbullying, its forms, awareness and impact, and the relationship between age and gender in cyberbullying (Report to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, Brief No. RBX03-06). Retrieved from

Coordinated Community Response to Special Populations

Being a victim of crime, especially a crime of a violent nature, one suddenly finds his or her self in a state of personal emergency that requires finely developed coping mechanisms in order to rationalize the situation. In addition to the need of a sound mind, a sound body is required in order to defend one’s self from harm in all but the most benign cases (Roberts & Yeager, 2009). The elderly population is characterized as having the predisposition of declining mental acuity as well as declining health and increasing frailty, as many of the elderly have disabilities related to their advanced development (Heisler, 2007). It could be stated that the elderly make for the perfect victim. However valid this statement may or may not be, it stands to reason that the elderly are at risk for being taken advantage of, at risk of injury from others, and at risk for both emotional and physical decline due to unwarranted stress (Heisler, 2007).

Elder abuse, which includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, financial and material exploitation, neglect, and abandonment, “is being recognized as a … complex societal problem” (Heisler, 2007, p. 161). Heisler (2007) states that “in physical abuse cases, men are usually the abusers” (p. 169), yet it stated that men only account for 53% of the abuse, which is much closer to ‘half’ than ‘usually’, so it seems that both men and women are just as likely to abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse (as cited in Heisler, 2007) also describes “self-neglect” as a type of abuse; however, this appears to fall under neglect and abandonment. Elder self-neglect should not be treated as a crime but should be addressed with the elder’s emotional and psychological well-being in mind.

The elderly are a vulnerable population due to their complex and specific needs and tend not to report abuse for fear of losing their support structure and further undermining their independence. According to Acierno et al. (2010), Podnieks (as cited in Heisler, 2007) and Wolf (as cited in Heisler, 2007), the one-year prevalence of elder abuse appears to fall between 4-5.6%, though the exact numbers have been difficult to quantify. It is this difficulty in identifying the abuse accurately that creates difficulty in responding to the crime. It is for this reason that every state and Washington, D.C., has enacted legislation that mandates the reporting of suspected elderly abuse by certain authorities (e.g. doctors, nurses, police, EMS, social workers, et al.).

In order to further develop coordinated community responses to elderly abuse, we must further understand the prevalence and intricacies of the abuse and its particular effects on the victims. It is imperative to bolster social support with prevention initiatives in order to address the prevalence of elder abuse in all of its forms.

Acierno, R., Hernandez, M. A., Amstadter, A. B., Resnick, H. S., Steve, K., Muzzy, W., & Kilpatrick, D. G. (2010). Prevalence and correlates of emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse and potential neglect in the United States: The national elder mistreatment study. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 292-297. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.163089

Heisler, C. J. (2007). Elder abuse. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 161-188). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Wall Street Bombing of 1920: Terrorism and its Victims

In my search of a terrorist act, I hoped to find an example that was both pertinent in history and applicable today. With the growing “Occupy Wall Street” movement of anarchists, communists, socialists, and other anti-capitalists focusing their attention on the “evils” of Wall Street bankers, I am reminded of a similar set of circumstances that occurred in 1920 as the same groups of anti-capitalists focused themselves on Wall Street and for much the same reason. Unfortunately, the 1920’s protest resulted in the most fatal act of terrorism on U.S. soil at the time. According to Gage (2001), Kengor (2011), and the New York Times (“Explosives,” 1920; “Havoc,” 1920), on September 16, 1920, a horse-drawn carriage was driven down Wall Street and parked in front of the offices of J. P. Morgan bank. A few minutes later, a large explosion occurred killing 38 people and injuring 400 others. The scars of this attack, attributed to Italian Galleanist anarchists, can still be seen today as pockmarks in some of the local buildings.

“It would seem at times as if the whole world is one madhouse” (as cited in Gage, 2001, para. 12). This quote from the New York Call seems to summarize terrorism as it occurs on U.S. soil. However, those who are directly affected might have a more acute perception of the ordeal. By definition, terrorism instills terror, an acute fear reaction associated with daily living, and provides for more intense and prolonged psychological effects, such as insecurity, social disruption, anger, uncertainty, and loss of control, compared to disasters of other etiologies (Roberts & Yeager, 2009). However, according to DiMaggio and Galea (2007), most of the population appears to cope appropriately after such an event. When focusing on at-risk groups that might fail to cope, the literature describes females, those with previous psychiatry, and those directly involved, whether victim or rescuer, to be more apt to progress from a lesser acute stress phase to a more significant post-traumatic stress disorder. Though DiMaggio and Galea promote these as potentially useful triage markers, they admit that “many questions remain to be answered about how best to utilize health care resources in response to terrorism” (p. 157).

As much as I wish not to consider the possibility of another bombing on Wall Street this year or next, I know that it remains a real possibility. I am encouraged in the growth of victim awareness and crisis intervention that has occurred over the last few decades that might blunt the psychological effects of another terrorist event.


DiMaggio, C. & Galea, S. (2007). The mental health and behavioral consequences of terrorism. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 147-160). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Explosive stores all accounted for. (1920, September 17). The New York Times, pp. 1, 3. Retrieved from

Gage, B. (2001, September 17). The first Wall Street bomb. History News Service. Retrieved from

Havoc wrought in Morgan offices. (1920, September 17). The New York Times, pp. 1, 4. Retrieved from

Kengor, P. G. (2011, November 8). In 1920, U.S. saw the carnage of class warfare. USAToday. Retrieved from

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University.

Coordinated Community Response – Terrorism, Hate Crimes

In a previous paper, I describe a coordinated community response to individual crime; however, when considering terrorism and, to some degree, hate crimes, we need to understand the more comprehensive needs of effected communities more so than the individual, yet, we still need to address individual needs (Schadone, 2011). According to a U.S. Department of Justice (2000) report on responding to victim needs after a terror event, comprehensive victim assistance centers should be centralized for ease of identification and resource management. This report acknowledges victims, family, and responders as potential users of victim assistance resources.

Coordinated community response programs should also be comprehensive and modular in order to provide services during normal day-to-day operations and to be able to coordinate for larger undertakings, such as those in the wake of large-scale emergencies. The U.S. Department of Justice (2000) report recommends being mindful of victim rights and including victim services representatives in planning, ensuring timely death notifications to family of the deceased, creating centralized centers to provide information, crisis counseling, and privacy, planning for transitioning short-term mental health counseling to long-term mental health care, streamlining victim compensation programs, organizing committees to ensure that unmet needs are identified with provisions of responding to these needs are created, creating an emergency fund for immediate payment for resources or victim compensation when other directed funds are inadequate or delayed, and creating processes for recruiting and preparing volunteers to assist in response efforts.

According to Roberts and Yeager (2009), crisis intervention counselors should take some specific steps in counseling individual victims of large-scale events. Initially, triage and remove victims from the scene as soon as possible to limit exposure to the aftermath of the event, considering the breadth of possible injuries and always taking into account the potential for responders’ needs following their exposure. Next, victims should be assessed medically to ensure that all physical health needs are identified and addressed, including their level of responsiveness, both in general and in light of the recent trauma. At this phase of the response, crisis counselors could assist other responders by obtaining demographic information (i.e. name, address, phone numbers, next of kin, medical history, current medications, and allergies) of victims being prepared for treatment and transport. Talking to and reassuring victims in a general sense would also be helpful by connecting to the victim on a personal level and establishing a rapport, acknowledging the victim’s concerns, and grounding the individual while ensuring that he or she knows that he or she is now safe. Further into the response, provide directed support to victims while allowing them to express their ordeals while providing them opportunities to acknowledge the reality of the situation. Some may benefit by providing assistance to other victims while others may require lengthy counseling sessions in order to move forward.

Any coordinated community response for large-scale incidents need to focus on health and safety, mental health, financial health, and the preservation of rights during the response. These coordinated community response programs should be comprehensive and modular while both giving and receiving assistance to and from state and federal victim assistance programs that might also be effective during the immediate aftermath of the event.

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Schadone, M. (2011, November 6). Coordinated community response to crime. Unpublished Manuscript. Walden University, Minneapolis, MN.

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. (2010, October). Responding to terrorism victims: Oklahoma City and beyond. Retrieved from ovc/publications/infores/respterrorism/welcome.html

Coordinated Community Response to Crime

Victims, especially those that find difficulty in coping, have similar needs and concerns independent of the type of crime committed against them. Victims in need share the same litany of psychological responses to crisis, such as fright, helplessness, nervousness, insecurity, anger, et al. (Roberts & Yeager, 2009). All victims of crime could potentially benefit from community support in the form of coordinated community response teams (CCRTs; Guo, Biegel, Johnsen, & Dyches, 2001; Roberts & Yeager, 2009).

A Google Scholar search of the terms coordinated community response -domestic -violence revealed a dearth of information regarding CCRTs, aside from those dedicated to domestic violence (which yielded a large portion of the result when the Google Scholar search term was limited to coordinated community response). As I consider the possibilities of an effective CCRT dedicated to a crime other than domestic violence, which enjoys an apparent steady and potent growth in activism, I envision a CCRT that is prepared to intervene for victims of crime in general.

In many communities, today, an effort is ongoing to develop Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programs. The aim of this effort, headed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is to prepare and train a broad citizen base to help respond to and aid victims of disasters when emergency services are overwhelmed, either by a multiple-seated disaster (a disaster involving a large geographical area where emergency resources are spread thinly throughout) or a small but involved emergency such as a search and rescue mission or a building collapse. This infrastructure of trained disaster responders is prime to include training in crisis intervention for victims of crime.

As respected members of the community, the CERT would be familiar with the community as a whole and would be trustworthy. Many CERT members are local fire officials or family members of fire officials.

In order to augment disaster response services with coordinated community response in crisis intervention of crime, the team, again, would require training in crisis intervention and must establish a cadre that is ready and willing to respond more often than official CERT requirements. The cadre must prepare a list of community resources available to assist victims of crime, such as psychological and psychiatric counseling if lethality is present or indeterminable or if a general need for counseling exists (Lewis & Roberts, 2001; Roberts & Ottens, 2005; Roberts & Yeager, 2009). Other important resources to include are state victim services organizations, safe housing, legal advocacy, judicial avenues of protection, such as instructions on obtaining no contact orders from the court, press contacts to prepare organized press releases when the crime is of such a magnitude that community outreach is desired. This program with additional assistance from licensed social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists could also benefit the community by providing traditional mobile crisis intervention services, crime notwithstanding.

Guo et al. (2001) examines the usefulness of mobile crisis intervention teams. Redundancy being a limitation in a small community, CERT provides an existing framework of trustworthy and available community members that might be willing to augment their training in order to further service their community in a time of need.


Guo, S., Biegel, D. E., Johnsen, J. A., & Dyches, H. (2001). Assessing the impact of community-based mobile crisis services on preventing hospitalization. Psychiatric Services, 52(2), 223-228. doi:10.1176/

Lewis, S. & Roberts, A. R. (2001). Crisis assessment tools: the good, the bad, and the available. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 1(1), 17-28. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/1.1.17

Roberts, A. R. & Ottens, A. J. (2005). The seven-stage crisis intervention model: a road map to goal attainment, problem solving, and crisis resolution. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 5(4), 329-339. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/mhi030

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Third Judicial District Conference. (1999). Characteristics of an effective coordinated community response. Retrieved from CharacteristicsCCR.pdf

Victim Impact Statements

Originally, under common law, burglary was defined as the nighttime breaking and entry of a dwelling or mansion house to commit any other crime; though, “under many modern statutes, the act of breaking and entering into any building at any time with the intent to commit a felony (or, in some states, a felony or petit larceny and, in other states, any crime) therein” (“Burglary,” 2010) constitutes burglary. Victims of burglary, according to Maguire (1980), feel the psychological effects months after, including the sense of a lack of security in one’s own home. Belk (1988) and, later, Ferraro, Escalas, and Bettman (2011) examine the link between the sum of our possessions and our image of self-worth initially proposed by William James in 1890. Both Belk and Ferraro, Escalas, and Bettman acknowledge that some possessions tend to have stronger links to self-worth than others, and some people may value similar possessions differently, thereby making it very difficult to assume the emotional value of any person’s particular possession.

While burglary alludes to theft, it may also involve a threat to the occupant(s) of the dwelling entered. Many burglaries result in the death or injury of the dwelling occupants, and this adds to the fear and insecurity. Therefore, in addition to the loss of possession, the fear of real or potential injury adds significantly to the emotive response of burglary victims. As victims tend to perceive the psychological losses greater than the financial losses, it is not difficult to understand at this point how victims of burglary might require a lengthy time to recover, and this recovery may actually alter the type of person a victim was, which is especially true for women living alone (Belk, 1988).

Victim impact statements allow the victims of violent crime to confront their attacker in open court (or, in some cases to the judge directly) and become an integral part of the process. The first use of a victim impact statement in the United States occurred in 1976 in Fresno, California, though victim impact statements have their origins in English Common Law (Yun, Johnson, & Kercher, 2005). According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (1999), over 80% of victims find a high level of importance in providing a victim statement at sentencing and at parole hearings. An excellent example of a victim impact statement can be found in Remsberg’s (2010) account of Officer Jennifer Moore of the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department as she confronts the assailant who shot her during a routine traffic stop. In this example, the assailant was sentenced to 115 years after the eloquent victim impact statement was made.

When it comes to the agenda of the criminal justice system, a victim impact statement (VIS) provides valuable information that can be utilized for making informed decisions by justice officials. For instance, information on the emotional and psychological impact of crime on victims can be best expressed by only the victims themselves. No one knows better than the victim how the crime has affected his or her life. Even when a victim suffers no loss of limb or financial suffering, he or she may still have to undergo considerable emotional agony. Victim impact statements can capture such sufferings that often cannot be measured by objective criteria. Accurate and comprehensive information directly provided by a victim can help a judge render a better-informed disposition or restitution order…. The VIS can help to determine if special conditions should be imposed on an offender. In the past and to some extent today, the criminal justice system has given disproportionate weight to offenders’ rights while sometimes losing sight of victims’ rights. By incorporating victim impact statements into justice proceedings, a sense of balance and equity can be established. (Yun, Johnson, & Kercher, 2005, p. 4)

Yun, Johnson, and Kercher’s (2005) study of VIS found that burglary victims had a much lower propensity (4.7%) to submit a VIS than victims of more heinous crimes, such as murder (15%), aggravated assault (16.7%), robbery (19.7), or sexual assault (33.9%). This data is based on the Texas criminal justice system where the VIS is prepared in form and returned to the courts. This study also reviewed the psycho-emotional impact of violent crimes by indications of 14 measures elicited on the VIS form: loss of sleep, loss of concentration, fear of strangers, nightmares, fear of being alone, anger, loss of trust for anyone, anxiety, crying all the time, feeling family not as close, depression, wanting to be alone, feeling suicidal, being helpless. The psycho-emotional impact of burglary showed to be just over 4 out of 10, identical to that of robbery. Interestingly, however, attempted murder showed to be only 1 out of 10. Though these numbers are difficult to interpret, they do provide a sense of the persistence of victims of certain crimes to want to move on towards regaining their sense of normalcy.

Victim impact statements afford the victim or their families the ability to confront their attacker. Often times, this promotes the psychological healing necessary of victims of violent crime. This choice, however, should be left to the individual victim. However great the victim impact statement effects the prosecution’s efforts of detaining criminals, the choice should remain the victims. The criminal justice system should find the simplest means of allowing and offering victim impact statements in any case of violent crime to assist in the psychological healing of the victim by allowing them an active role in the criminal justice system. Many times, the victim just wants to have his or her voice heard and consideration made on their behalf.


Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139−168. doi:10.1086/209154

Burglary. (2010). Webster’s New World Law Dictionary. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Ferraro, R., Escalas, J. E., & Bettman, J. R. (2011). Our possessions, our selves: Domains of self-worth and the possession–self link. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21(2), 169-177. doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2010.08.007

Maguire, M. (1980). The impact of burglary upon victims [Abstract]. British Journal of Criminology, 20, 261-275. Retrieved from

National Center for Victims of Crime. (1999). Victim impact statements. Retrieved from

Remsberg, C. (2010, August 18). Examining one cop’s remarkable victim impact statement. Retrieved from

Yun, I., Johnson, M., & Kercher, G. (2005). Victim impact statements: What victims have to say. Crime Victims’ Institute. Retrieved from

Impact of Crime on the Victim and the Community

In the late afternoon of December 12, 2005, Judy Nilan went for a jog before having to pick her son up from track practice (Moffa, 2006). She never showed up. Judy Nilan, a guidance counselor and social worker for the Woodstock Middle School and the Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse organization, was kidnapped, bound, possibly raped or sexually assaulted, and viciously murdered by Scott Deojay (Administrator, 2005a, 2005b, 2005c; Altimari, 2008; Dignam, 2006; Moffa, 2006). Judy’s body was found bound and beaten on the property of Carroll Spinney, who plays ‘Big Bird’ and ‘Oscar the Grouch’ on the television show “Sesame Street” (Administrator, 2005a, 2005c; Dignam, 2006). Scott Deojay worked as a stone mason and caretaker for Spinney (Administrator, 2005b, 2005c; Dignam, 2006; Kuuttila, 2005).

According to Altimari (2008), Deojay, now an adult, was a youthful offender who was assigned to probation officer Richard Straub. Straub was convicted of molesting and raping 15 of his young male probationers, including Deojay. Deojay, then, went on to beat, bind, and rape his best friend’s mother, his childhood baby-sitter, before kidnapping and murdering Judy Nilan in 2005 (Dignam, 2006; Geezer, 2006; Kuuttila, 2005). According to reports, Deojays previous crimes include:

  • Burglary 3rd degree (arrested: 12/7/88; disposition: guilty)
  • Larceny 5th and 6th degree (arrested: 12/7/88; disposition: guilty)
  • Violation of probation (arrested: 12/7/1988; disposition: probation terminated 3/27/1991)
  • Larceny, 3rd degree (arrested: 3/27/1991; disposition: released from jail 3/29/93)
  • Possession of controlled substance (arrested: 9/15/2000; disposition: guilty)
  • Criminal possession of a weapon (arrested: 11/11/2001; disposition: guilty)
  • Breach of peace (arrested: 11/11/2001; disposition: guilty)
  • Illegal operation of motor vehicle license under suspension (arrested: 6/27/2003; disposition: failure to appear)
  • Risk of injury to child (arrested: 11/1/2004; disposition: guilty)
  • Disorderly Conduct (arrested: 11/9/2004; disposition: guilty)
  • First degree sexual assault (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • First degree kidnapping (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • First degree burglary (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • Third degree assault (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • Third degree criminal mischief (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • Sixth degree criminal mischief (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • (Geezer, 2005, 2006)

Woodstock is nestled in what is commonly referred to as “the quiet corner” of Connecticut. This atrocity disrupted this quiet little town; however, the people here are resilient and have found ways to come together as a community and honor the memory of one of their own. The annual “Jog with Judy” five kilometer road race has been a celebrated memorial event for the past six years; launched by the students and staff of Woodstock Middle School, over 500 runners enter the race each year (Morales, 2008). In addition to the road race, the Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse has developed an award, the Annual Judith Nilan Award, honoring the life and work of Judy Nilan and presented to “[recognize] one school social worker, psychologist, guidance counselor, teacher, principal or vice-principal who promotes positive youth development, drug prevention [sic] and anti-violence” (Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse, 2011, para. 2).

In Moffa’s (2006) article, the pain of Judy Nilan’s family is described eloquently. The family was grateful to have the perpetrator apprehended and prosecuted quickly, allowing them to face the accused in open court. Though the pain will never go away, Judy Nilan’s family has witnessed an entire community of friends and family coming together to aid and support them. The residents of Woodstock, Connecticut, are resilient and take no consideration in “being the victim.” Judy was the victim of this crime, and we will all remember how she lived and, regrettably, how she died.


Administrator. (2005a, December 13). Re: Missing jogger Judith Nilan found dead (Update: Arrest made) [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Adminstrator. (2005b, December 14). Re: Suspect Scott Deojay in court charged with kidnapping & death of Judith Nilan [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Administrator. (2005c, December 17). Re: A Massachusetts medical examiner has ruled the death of a Woodstock jogger, Judith Nilan, a homicide [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Altimari, D. (2008, April 13). A legacy of evil: part one: Abused became abusers in former probation officer’s case. Hartford Courant. Retrieved from,0,3369036.story

Dignam, J. (2006, December 22). ‘Monster’ murdered jogger Deojay pleads guilty. Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved from

Geezer. (2005, December 20). Re: Why was the monster in Woodstock? Retrieved from

Geezer. (2006, January 10). Re: Why was the monster in Woodstock? Retrieved from

Kuuttila, S. (2005, December 20). Re: A Massachusetts medical examiner has ruled the death of a Woodstock jogger, Judith Nilan, a homicide [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Moffa, B. (2006, February 24). Remembering Judith Nilan: Husband, brother, share memories of ‘best friend’. Woodstock Villager, A1, A6-7. Retrieved from

Morales, F. (2008, May 3). Run a memorial to Woodstock woman; Jogger murdered in December 2005. Norwich Bulletin. Retrieved from

Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse. (2011, October 21). News: 6th Annual Judith Nilan Award. Retrieved from

Needs of Female Victims

Female victims have specific and unique needs following victimization, or potential victimization, of violent crime. In order to identify these particular needs and address them, it is important to further understand the risk factors that increase the propensity for violence against females. According to Franklin, Franklin, Nobles, and Kercher (2011), women face a higher risk of victimization in certain types of violent crime. This is also evident in the text where it is stated that, in the United States, 3.3 times as many women than men are raped, and almost 6 times as many attempted rapes are made against women than men, instances of domestic violence against women are disproportionately higher than against men (20% vs. 3% of all violence committed by an intimate partner), and women are stalked five times more than men (Buzawa, 2007; O’Sullivan & Fry, 2007; Tjaden, 2007). Franklin et al. describe these risk factors as of female victims as often stated a result of gender and power inequalities within society; however, their research suggests that a lack of self-control in routine activity theory (exposure, guardianship, target attractiveness, and proximity to potential offenders) contributes highly to the likelihood of violent victimization, including property, personal, and sexual crime.

Programs, like the Duluth model, focus on the batterer and promote counseling to preempt further battering, while still protecting the victim throughout the criminal justice system (DAIP, nd; Paymar & Barnes, 2009). However, there is a growing sentiment that the Duluth model, a model of psychoeducation, is a failure as the rate of recidivism is poor at 40%, and arguments are made about the unsound approach in the methodology (Dutton & Corvo, 2006, 2007). Dutton and Corvo (2006) state that the Duluth model “intended to be a progressive force for safety and liberation has become a rationale for narrow-minded social control” (p. 477). They continue:

The Duluth model, however, maintains that unlike the bulk of similar aggressive criminal behaviors (e.g., assault, child abuse, elder abuse), violence perpetrated toward women is influenced in no way by social marginalization or psychosocial deficits, but rather is solely a product of gender privilege. A progressive view makes possible a reduction in crime and violence through ameliorating socioeconomic disadvantage. The Duluth model renders such efforts irrelevant. (p. 477)

Paymar and Barnes (2009), along with Gondolf (2007), attempt to counter the claims made by Dutton and Corvo (2006, 2007), but fail to present new evidence and merely rehash previously stated claims. This is not to say that the Duluth model is unfit or ineffective; it merely addresses the scholarly debate. Since the original debate, there must be a preponderance of evidence to suggest the utility of this and other comparative models, yet no further argument is promoted, or so it seems.

In summary, female victims of violence are often targeted unfairly due to a myriad of conditions or circumstances that are not yet agreed upon, though it is agreed that women suffer violence more than men. This creates certain unique needs of female victims that need to be further researched for additional understanding. These needs should be addressed by coordinated community response programs as they develop. Programs focused on one area that are proven in efficacy should be referenced and used as the framework for the development of coordinated community response programs to be studied in other areas.


Buzawa, E. (2007). Victims of domestic violence. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 55-74). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP). (n.d.). Program evaluation activities at Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs. Retrieved from DAIP website:

Dutton, D. G. & Corvo, K. (2006). Transforming a flawed policy: A call to revive psychology and science in domestic violence research and practice. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 11(5), 457-483. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2006.01.007

Dutton, D. G. & Corvo, K. (2007). The Duluth model: A data-impervious paradigm and a failed strategy. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12(6), 658-667. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2007.03.002

Franklin, C. A., Franklin, T. W., Nobles, M. R., & Kercher, G. (2011, August). Risk factors associated with women’s victimization. Retrieved from The Crime Victims’ Institute website:

Gondolf, E. W. (2007). Theoretical and research support for the Duluth model: A reply to Dutton and Corvo. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12(6), 644-657. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2007.03.001

O’Sullivan, C. S. & Fry, D. (2007). Sexual assault victimization across the life span. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 35-54). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Paymar, M. & Barnes, G. (2009). Countering confusion about the Duluth Model. Retrieved from the DAIP website:

Tjaden, P. (2007). Stalking in America. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 75-89). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Roberts’ Seven–Stage Crisis Intervention Model

Crisis management, according to Parad and Parad (as cited in Lewis & Roberts, 2001), is mostly based on anecdote and tradition, the assumptions of clinical practice experience, and lack the basic research, implementation, and review, confusing theory with sound methodology. One of the more acclaimed methods to date is Roberts’ (2005, 2009) seven-stage crisis intervention model.

Roberts’ seven-stage crisis intervention model is a culmination of work by Roberts and his colleagues over the past 50 years, extending that of Eric Lindemann1, in exploring the utility and best practices of crisis intervention (Roberts, 1995, 2005; Roberts & Yeager, 2009). The seven-stage crisis intervention model involves 1) a rapid biopsychosocial assessment, 2) creating collaborative rapport with the client, 3) defining the crisis, 4) an emotional exploration, 5) generating coping strategies, 6) restoring function using an action plan, and 7) following up with the client (Roberts, 2005; Roberts & Ottens, 2005; Roberts & Yeager, 2009). Though each stage is described as essential and sequential, this is not a strict model but one that values flexibility in its implementation, (Roberts, 2005; Roberts & Yeager, 2009).

Timely access to crisis intervention has been shown to reduce the need for hospitalization (Guo, Biegel, Johnsen, & Dyches, 2001). The biggest strength of Roberts’ model is the adaptability and scope of utility. Simply, this model provides a rapid assessment to quickly determine the need for enhancement of coping strategies or further and, perhaps, more structured care in the form of in-patient counseling, psychiatric, or other directed care. Though the coping strategies developed during the intervention may not be applicable or effective to all cases, identification of the need for further strategies is important.

Another strength of Roberts’ model is its scope beyond lethality. “Not all individuals who are in crisis are either suicidal or homicidal” (Lewis & Roberts, 2001, p. 22). Crisis intervention models should be focused at addressing the root of the crisis state to develop means of assisting the patient to cope with these stressors; however, obtaining a measurement of lethality is obviously important.

One of the limitations of any crisis intervention tool is the question of applicability. Regehr (2001) describes how mandating psychological debriefings after traumatic events can actually result in an increase of post-traumatic stress symptoms with increased persistence, recommending that any intervention should be at the behest of and initiated by the victim. The emergency services use crisis intervention techniques in order to provide a psychological debriefing to responders of critical incidents, and these sessions are often mandatory, which could cause serious psychological harm to the provider. Another limit of applicability is the attempted use of the model to intervene with a drug or alcohol issue or a truly psychiatric issue, such as severe depression, bipolar disorder, or any of the personality disorders that might inherently cause a state of crisis, such as schizophrenia or affective psychosis (Guo et al, 2001).

Roberts’ seven-stage model provides a framework built upon years of parallel research efforts over the last century and appears to be a best practice when assessing those in crisis. More research is being done to assess the mode and applicability of using this tool by providing measurement data. Thus far, Roberts’ model is the most appropriate tool to begin an assessment, especially on an emergency basis.


Guo, S., Biegel, D. E., Johnsen, J. A., & Dyches, H. (2001). Assessing the impact of community-based mobile crisis services on preventing hospitalization. Psychiatric Services, 52(2), 223-228. doi:10.1176/

Lewis, S. & Roberts, A. R. (2001). Crisis assessment tools: the good, the bad, and the available. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 1(1), 17-28. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/1.1.17

Regehr, C. (2001). Crisis debriefing groups for emergency responders: reviewing the evidence. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 1(2), 87-100. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/1.2.87

Roberts, A. R. (Ed.). (1995). Crisis intervention and time-limited cognitive treatment. Retrieved from

Roberts, A. R. (2005). Crisis intervention handbook: assessment, treatment, and research (3rd ed.). Retrieved from

Roberts, A. R. & Ottens, A. J. (2005). The seven-stage crisis intervention model: a road map to goal attainment, problem solving, and crisis resolution. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 5(4), 329-339. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/mhi030

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

1 Eric Lindemann, while working at Massachusetts General Hospital, introduced the concepts of crisis management and time-limited treatment after researching the effects of psychological trauma on the survivors of the Coconut Grove nightclub fire in Boston that killed 493 people on November 28, 1942 (Roberts, 2005; Roberts & Ottens, 2005).