How to Write a Victim Empathy Letter

By Ginger Voight - Updated June 05, 2017
Man sitting on old sofa writing a letter

If you have committed a crime that has hurt another person, a part of rehabilitative therapy can be writing a letter of empathy to anyone your actions hurt. This can be therapeutic whether you send the letter or not. Not only do you examine the long-term repercussions of your behavior, but this forces you to take accountability for your own destructive choices. In doing so, you can make significant strides forward to prevent repeat behavior in the future. Work with your therapist or counselor to develop the proper empathy letter following the basic template below.

Apologize for your behavior. An apology in and of itself may not do much to heal the pain that you've caused, but it helps you to acknowledge the seriousness of the event.

Take responsibility for your actions. Do not make excuses for the things you did. Acknowledge that you realize how inappropriate and destructive your behavior was, and no excuses can change the way you impacted your victim's life.

Acknowledge that your victim has a right to be angry, and forgiveness would mean so much. Reiterate that it is your fault alone and not the fault of society, or even the fault of the victim himself.

Detail how you plan to make amends for your behavior. This does not necessarily mean you have to have continuing contact with the victim; this can mean what steps you are taking to contribute to society through therapy or community service.

Express what you have learned and how you plan to take that knowledge into the future to be a better person. Detail for him how you plan to change your behavior for the better, and what steps you have taken to change.

Tell the victim that you wish them the best for their recovery and for the future and summarize the intent of the letter, which is to demonstrate to the victim you understand the events from her point of view and accept her anger as a consequence.


Some may not be prepared for or wish to have contact with those who have victimized them. Abide by any "no contact" rules that are set in place by the victim.

About the Author

Ginger Voight is a published author who has been honing her craft since 1981. She has published genre fiction such as the rubenesque romances "Love Plus One" and "Groupie." In 2008 Voight's six-word memoir was included in the "New York Times" bestselling book "Not Quite What I Was Planning." She studied business at the University of Phoenix.

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