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Violence Vict. 2014;29(5):797-813.

Relational caring: the use of the victim impact statement by sexually assaulted women.


The victim impact statement (VIS) is a written account of harms experienced as a result of crime. This study investigates VIS use by sexually assaulted women through interviews with Canadian victims, victim services workers, and feminist advocates (N = 35). Findings suggest that victims use the VIS to express relational caring. Relational caring is an ethic of care that prioritizes others through privileging the harms experienced by others because of witnessing the sexual assault or coping with the victim's postassault sequelae, protecting future or hypothetical victims, and promoting the interests of intimate partner offenders. Relational caring challenges traditional conceptions of victim agency and VIS use for instrumental purposes, as well as the targets and temporalities of sexual assault harms that are detailed in the statement. Relational caring has unique implications for victims who are mothers, especially those abused as minors, and for intimate partners. Legal, therapeutic, and social service consequences are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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