How To Write A Victim Accountability Letter
Writing an accountability letter is a positive step in better understanding the harm that has been caused. It also helps in taking responsibility and building empathy for your victim(s). By writing this letter, you’re taking a positive step towards healing.
This video offers tips and suggestions on how to write a letter that expresses true accountability without asking for forgiveness.
All right, happy to see you here, again. My name is The Outspoken Offender.
And today is a little different type of video. I’m talking about something fairly difficult to do for the former offender. This is called the offender accountability letter and I do want to point out though. If you’re watching this video, this can be used for anybody, for any type of crime, or any type of situation where you want to feel what the other person may be feeling. So it doesn’t have to be a sex offense, but it is geared towards that a little bit. The information that I’m going to be showing you here in a minute. I actually found from I think it was Montana Department of Corrections and their sex offender counseling unit or whatever. So it does help. I actually wrote an accountability letter when I was in counseling years ago, and it did help me see a clearer picture of the things that I did and how I affected lives negatively.
So let’s take a look here. And these are some steps and some guidelines that you can use to write an accountability letter. And I’ve got to say if you’ve written one before it’s okay to write another one. If you feel you need to write another one that’s all good.
So the first few questions here.
What does remorse mean to you? I can’t answer that for you. But you’re going to have to answer that if you want to write this letter.
Are you truly sorry for what you did to harm the victim? or did you just regret that you are caught and if you feel sorry for yourself? You may not be ready to write a sincere letter to your victim or answer those questions. That’s a good way to start the letter. Okay. I wish I could give you an example. I went online and tried to search for an example of one of these letters, but there’s really nothing out there because these are so personal and there’s really no template. It has to come from the heart. It has to come from the brain and that’s how we do it.
Alright, so the second pointer or tip and I remember my counselors talking about this.
Do not ask for forgiveness in the letter.
I struggled with that and I would say, ‘Well why?’ I would be so much better if I knew that they forgave me. And my counselor explained that forgiveness is not something that you pursue or that you demand. Forgiveness has to come from their end and that the victim may have forgiven you but you don’t know that. That’s just something that you have to deal with. So it’s something on their end and it’s a gift to you and you can’t ask. I mean, you don’t usually ask for a gift right? So this is kind of the same thing. Also forgiveness as I mentioned is a personal decision. It’s a gift that the victim might choose and I just repeated myself. So it was right there on the screen.
The next step is accept responsibility for your actions and don’t make any excuses.
I know this is tough. I know this is hard to deal with. If your crime was a month ago, this will be more difficult. If your crime was maybe 10 or 20 years ago it may be a little bit easier to develop this letter.
The fourth one here. Do not blame the victim or others for your crime. Your victim accountability letter, your victim or victims don’t want to hear you blaming others. For example, ‘Well, you know, I did this because Paul, you know, didn’t stop me and he said he was going to help me, and so then I, you know, robbed the bank,’ or something like that. Now you’re the victim does not want to hear excuses. Just leave it out of the letter. It’s going to be the best way to handle that.
Here we go with the next one. Your victim might like to hear what you’re doing to change your lifestyle. Maybe you’ve been through counseling. Maybe you’ve made amends. Maybe you’re volunteering in the community. All those things are great things to include in your accountability letter. And of course,you’re going to mention, you know, these things are helping you not commit any more crimes.
One thing that I remember from the sex offender counseling program is do not push your religious beliefs onto the victim. You can talk about your religion and your spirituality on how it’s helping you become a better person, but don’t push the religion. For example,
‘Hey, you know, I’m Catholic and you should be Catholic because…’
You know, they don’t want to hear that. So talk about spirituality and religion, but don’t be forceful about it.
Something else you want to remember about the letter. Don’t write this very long ten page thing. Make it very brief. Maybe a page at the most? Avoid long rambling letters. Just get to the point. Think about what they want to hear from you. If you were a victim, what would you want to hear from someone that wronged you. Switch it around in your brain and it may help you. We just had that one actually. So let’s move on to this one.
You can type it, sure. But when I was in counseling, I know I say that when I’m in counseling I always talk about that but they recommended that you hand write it. It’s a little more personal and I don’t know… it’s just personal and it just resonates better I think then a typed or text letter.
Okay, this is a good one. When you write your letter put it aside for a little while… couple days, maybe a week, maybe in a month. Come back to it and reread it. You know, I do this a lot with my video editing. I know that sounds like a weird comparison, but I’ll do some editing on a video even like this one,and then the next day I come back and say oh that does not look good. I need to change that. So it’s the same thing with the letter right? Put it aside and you might want to edit some things later on.
Then you can also ask for help writing your letter from a trusted friend or family member.
So all these ideas are positive steps for you. It’s for you. The letter is for you and it’s also for the victim even though they’re not going to receive it. But it’s for you to come to a better understanding of the harm that you may have caused, and it’s simple as that.
This isn’t a necessary thing. I’m just giving you some advice. If you’ve written one in the past, maybe write another one or take that old letter that you wrote and reread it.
So that’s my video today. A little different. I wanted to do something that speaks to victims. You know, a lot of my videos have been focused on former offenders, but I want to do some videos about victims. It’s extremely important. Offenders, victims were all in the same thing.
I want to thank you for watching this video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel, and I will see you very soon.