One thing that is often said is that people don’t understand how it feels to be a victim of crime unless they have been a victim themselves. Victims Support Services, formerly Families & Friends of Violent Crime Victims, has worked with thousands of victims who became survivors. I would like to share with you just some of what a victim of crime encounters in the aftermath. Please keep in mind that each person’s experiences are unique to them.
When you are a victim…your life is irrevocably changed. So many emotions take over.
Chaos—our minds are marvelous instruments; they take on only what we can handle. In the beginning victims may experience numbness. It’s this numbness that allows victims to accomplish the necessary tasks each day. Victim Support Services is here to guide.
Hurt—when we hurt, we turn to people who have always been there—our family and friends. These are the people who at first held our hands, answered the phone, made us eat and sat by our bed as we attempted sleep. But a month, six months or a year later they have gone back to their lives, when victims still need to express their feelings. Victims are told, “When are you going to move on?” Victim Support Services is here to listen.
Guilt—victims berate themselves for not being able to prevent what happened. Guilt is unfounded. No one ever asks to be a victim. A victim can’t change the events that took place. Victim Support Services is here to support.
Anger—from a lack of control over what happens after becoming a victim of crime. There is a sense of unfairness that is prompted by rights that are afforded an alleged person while a victim struggles to come to terms with rebuilding what was lost. The world continues to revolve, even as life as they once knew it has come to a halt for victims. Victim Support Services is here to validate.
Family—each of us is an individual. It stands to reason that at the most painful time in our lives, we would also grieve in our own way. I have often said it is impossible to support one another in a family when you can’t support yourself. While we think that victimization pulls family closer together this is not always true. Victim Support Services is here to encourage.
Holidays—holidays are an accumulation of traditions. Traditions are habits made by families to be shared by its members. Holidays can become a painful reminder instead of a joyful time. Victim Support Services is here to care.
Society—a general lack of understanding in our society about the impact of crime is often compounded by poor communication. There is another element of our society which hides behind anonymity. What can possibly be more damaging than those who ignore or blame us? We have been told “had he not been walking on the street at 2:00 am he wouldn’t have been murdered.” The victim must be at fault for his own death. If not, it could happen to anyone. Victim Support Services is here to educate.
The Criminal Justice System—in most cases victims are thrust into the criminal justice system. Most have never been involved with it before. Victims may have questions about how the criminal justice system works. The criminal justice system can be confusing, frightening and, at times, absolutely frustrating. Victim Support Services is here to provide advocacy and support.
In order to meet our mission and provide services to crime victims in our community, we rely on the generosity of individuals and businesses for support. Without the assistance of community-minded individuals like you, we wouldn’t be able to serve those in our community each year.
This year has been particularly trying since we experienced an unexpected reduction in our Federal Grant resulting in a deficit this year of $157,000. We have been making good progress $1 at a time; however, we have a way to go to make up that deficit.
I ask that you make a commitment to help by making a 2013 tax deductible cash donation. Your generosity will make a difference in our community by allowing us to continue in our work. Remember, every donation makes a difference, regardless of size. At Victim Support Services eighty-six cents out of every dollar goes directly to meeting our mission.
In closing, all of us at Victim Support Services hope that you will be able to take part in one or more of the many exciting events that we are offering this year and experience firsthand the passion we take in supporting Victims of Violent Crime. Our next event is the Voices of Victims Breakfast on February 19th.
On behalf of our staff, board, and volunteers, I thank you in advance for your support. May your holidays be merry and bright!