Tuesday, 21 May 2024

‘It’s the hardest thing to write’: Oshawa woman helps victims of crime find their voices

Having a loved one murdered is devastating — having to go through the court process afterward can be almost as tough.

An Oshawa woman who has lived through these challenges is now helping others find their voices.

Lisa Freeman, a victims’ rights advocate, is giving others guidance on how to write victim impact statements.

“It’s the hardest thing to write,” she said.

Freeman knows how difficult it can be to find the words. Her father, Roland Slingerland, was murdered in Oshawa in 1991.

Twenty years later, Freeman wrote a victim impact statement when the man who killed Slingerland was applying for parole.

“I sat at this table many, many nights trying to find the right words to capture everything I wanted to say and I found I was re-traumatizing myself having to revisit the past and get in that mindset of a 21-year-old again to accurately get on paper how I felt,” said Freeman.

She took weeks off work and ended up having to rewrite her statement three times.

“I felt I needed to get everything down on paper because I knew it was my one opportunity to tell not only the panelists but the offender as well what he did to me and what he did to my family and what he took away from us,” said Freeman. “I feel the parole board (of Canada) gives you the tools to do it but not the best tools to amplify your voice.”

Freeman later decided to start a consulting business called Point of Interest to help others through the process of criminal sentencing and parole board hearings.

“Obviously, nothing will bring my dad back, but his death wasn’t in vain. I have an obligation to share the knowledge that I have learned and picked up over the years and just to help other people find their voice and give them that sense of OK, you do have worth, you do have a voice in this system, and it’s up to you if you use it and how loud you use it,” said Freeman.

Victim Services of Durham Region fields calls to help people fill out victim impact statements. Executive director Carly Kalish says it’s an emotional time for victims, and having someone who can relate is a huge benefit.

“It can be re-traumatizing, it can be triggering, it can be empowering and it really requires someone to prepare them to participate in something like that because it’s such a big decision on what to share, how to share and if you’re going to share,” said Kalish.

While Freeman feels she helped get justice for her father, she hopes she can help others do the same.

Freeman will be hosting a victim impact statement workshop on Nov. 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Civic Recreation Complex in Oshawa.

For more information you can head to http://www.pointofimpactworkshops.com.

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