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)

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"With the help of VSS, you are empowered and encouraged to fight back and be pro-active. Then your conscience can be more at peace because you know you have taken some action to protest crimes inflicted on your loved one. It is sometimes your only consolation."

“The one takeaway for me in working with VSS is that it is a necessary organization. I know they are funded by grants and fundraisers but it’s something we need to make sure as a community that they have the funding needed because what they do for people in need doesn’t happen anywhere else. This is the only place that this happens and VSS helps with so many things.”

David Rose

Anchor, Q13 News and Host, Washington’s Most Wanted

“VSS is there when the unthinkable happens.  When a police officer knocks on your door and gives you tragic news, VSS helps navigate the court system, which can be very confusing. VSS is compassion, caring, and commitment. Commitment to once justice is done that victims and their families can move forward with their lives.”

Jennifer Gregerson

Mayor, City of Mukilteo

“VSS has been our partner in recovery and healing and a key part in what makes Mukilteo Strong. VSS has been a trusted advocate for the victims that have suffered so much in the community.  I’m so grateful to VSS as our partner in strength.”

Jon Nehring

Mayor, City of Marysville

“VSS is there for people in their darkest hour. At a time when they need an advocate and friend, VSS steps in to fill that gap and help them begin their journey back to some sense of normalcy.” 

Myrle Carner

Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound

“This thing about closure. There is never really closure in a victim’s life but VSS helps individuals to get closer to that and that’s critical because the cops and the judicial system just move on to another case because they don’t have time. Victims live with this trauma forever so VSS is with them for as long as they need the services. VSS takes the time, more importantly, they really care."

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