Delivering a Victim Impact Statement: Emotionally effective or counter-productive?

K.M.E. Lens*, Antony Pemberton, Karen Brans, Johan Braeken, Stefan Bogaerts, Esmah Lahlah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Although the delivery of a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) in court is assumed to contribute to the healing and recovery process of victims of violent crimes, its effectiveness to facilitate emotional recovery is widely debated. The current longitudinal study is the first to empirically examine the psychological effects of delivering a VIS in terms of the two most important emotional reactions after crime: anger and anxiety. It extends previous findings by showing that the debate concerning the effectiveness of delivering a VIS is not a ‘black and white’ matter. In this article, we argue that the question should not be whether delivering a VIS ‘works’ or ‘doesn’t work’ for the victim, but for whom, and under which conditions. We show that delivering a VIS does not give rise to direct ‘therapeutic’ effects. However, we found that feelings of anger and anxiety decrease for victims who experience more control over their recovery process and higher levels of procedural justice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-34
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Emotional recovery
  • procedural justice
  • therapeutic justice
  • Victim Impact Statement
  • victim participation


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