Supporting Victims of Crime

By: MaryKate Lesar
For those who directly and indirectly become a victim of crime, life as they know it may be forever altered. Life may lose the meaning it once had and the ability to cope may become a great challenge. Being a victim of a crime isn’t a one size fits all and it often leaves lasting trauma. That being said, victims will very likely turn to those closest to them for support – but can still feel isolated and misunderstood by those who may not fully grasp the experience from a personal perspective. Based on the FBI resource page “Coping with Victimization,” here are some tips in order to better assist those we love who have been affected by crime

  • Help them find someone to talk with about how they feel and what they are going through. Urge them to keep the phone number of a good friend nearby to call when they feel overwhelmed or feel panicked.
  • Allow them to feel the pain. It will not last forever.
  • Recommend they keep a journal.
  • Encourage them to spend time with others, but also make sure they create time to spend alone.
  • Remind them to take care of their mind and body. Rest, sleep, and eat regular, healthy meals.
  • Re-establish a normal routine as soon as they are possible, but don’t over-do.
  • Encourage them to make daily decisions, which will help to bring back a feeling of control over their own life.
  • Exercise, though not excessively and alternate with periods of relaxation.
  • Urge them to recall the things that helped them cope during trying times and loss in the past and think about the things that give them hope. They can turn to them on bad days.

It is also important in those early stages to encourage a loved one to avoid using alcohol or drugs to ease emotional pain as addiction can create greater turmoil. Gentle reminders to not make big life-changing decisions, and remember that their emotions need to be expressed. Be there for them and listen to them.Getting back to “normal” after a traumatic event may feel impossible for those victims. As their built-in support system, you are there to be a guiding light in what may be a terrifying time. If you are at a loss for what to say or which direction to lead them in, research your local crime victim advocacy organization for further assistance.“It is important to remember that emotional pain is not endless and that it will eventually ease. It is impossible to undo what has happened but life can be good again in time.” (FBI’s Coping with Victimization)