Are you in a safe place?
If not, please consider calling 9-1-1 for emergency assistance
Are you concerned that you may harm yourself or someone else?
Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
As a victim of crime, you might be entitled to victim advocacy. Advocates, both professional and volunteer, work to affirm your rights and to provide information and services to victims of crime. Organized locally, the starting point is a victim advocate in the jurisdiction of the crime. Because of the many jurisdictions in our nation, it is not possible to list all the agencies providing victim advocacy and assistance. To search, use key words “Victim Assistance” (County) (State).
To find information about legal assistance, please visit the National Crime Victim Law Institute.
To learn more about victim’s rights law, please visit VictimLaw, a resource from the U.S. Department of Justice.
A restraining order or protective order is a legal order issued by a state court which requires one person to stop harming another person. It is also sometimes called a protection order, an injunction, an order of protection, or some other similar name. Visit The National Network to End Domestic Violence for more information.
As a victim of crime, you might qualify for financial assistance for a variety of needs resulting from your victimization. Qualifying uses vary from state to state but commonly medical bills, funeral or counseling expenses are covered. Compensation is managed on a state level and many states have applications for assistance available online. Visit the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Board for more information.
Emotional trauma is a common element for nearly EVERY victim. Some traumas you never ‘get over’ but you can learn ways to cope.
The US system of justice is not a speedy process, from before an investigation (IF you get one) to prosecution to incarceration of a perpetrator. The Justice System is deliberately slow at nearly every level. This commonly surprises victims who expect ‘swift justice.’
It is typical for victims to experience secondary trauma. Secondary trauma is emotional pain caused by the people and processes from whom victims seek help. This can happen because of the system’s slowness, incompetencies and just the fact that you are working with humans.
Some people around you will not understand your struggle and frustration. This can include family and close friends. It is helpful for some victims to find others like them for support and understanding.
To find someone you can talk to, ask your Victim Advocate for recommendations. Here is a list of questions you can use when choosing a trauma-informed counselor (from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.)
For information about stalking, please visit the National Stalking Resource Center.
victims of Crisis
For more information for and about victims of crisis, please visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s webpage on Domestic Terrorism and Mass Violence.
What Victims of Mass Casualty Won’t Tell You
Rushing to do something immediately, even giving money, isn’t necessarily best. The reason? In the immediate aftermath, communities aren’t ready to receive funds even as fraudsters are. Yes, funeral and medical expenses can be immediate. But each state has a crime victim compensation fund that can support qualifying expenses. And there will still be a host of financial needs that follow in the weeks and months to come when the media interest fades. As well, giving time for a community to establish equitable ways to collect and distribute funds is important to supporting all the needs in a community after such loss.
While it might be therapeutic for you, sending food, toys, clothes and handmade crafts isn’t usually very helpful to victims. In some natural disasters, food, water and shelter can be crucial but there are already organizations equipped to provide those (e.g., The Salvation Army). Not only does inundating a community not help, it can create more difficulty as victims and community leaders now have to manage the onslaught of items. Handling and storing massive amounts of donated goods can create serious challenges that thoughtful but uniformed donors don’t realize. It might make you feel good to paint a picture to donate but candidly, it isn’t about you.
Financial donations are commonly the best and most prudent assistance. Once trustworthy and reputable mechanisms are established for donating, save the money you would spend on buying materials to make something and donate it. Or buy gift cards. Not only are those easy to distribute more equitably, they become like cash for victims to pay expenses that the average citizen has no idea follow these crises.
Victims and communities want as much control over their decisions as possible. Why? For one, loss of control is a result of the horrible events. For another, gaining some control back is part of the recovery process. Unless they specifically ask for it, state and federal officials deciding what they believe is best actually demonstrates a lack of respect for victims’ ability to assess and determine what the victims believe is best for their recovery. While community individuals might disagree with one another about decisions, they are still the central stakeholders in the aftermath of a tragic event and need the liberty to work out solutions.
While we are careful not to speak specifically for victims, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) has been training people to respond to mass casualty crime scenes and natural disasters for over twenty-five years. This has provided insights into the needs of victims of crime and crisis.
If you need additional information or referrals, please contact us:
firstname.lastname@example.org | 800-TRY-NOVA