with Crime Victimization
Anyone can become a victim of a crime. If it happens
to you or someone you love, here are some important
points to remember:
Being a victim of a crime can be a very difficult
and stressful experience. While most people are
naturally resilient and over time will find ways
to cope and adjust, there can be a wide range of
after effects to a trauma. One person may experience
many of the effects, a few, or none at all. Not
everyone has the same reaction. In some people
the reaction may be delayed days, weeks, or even
months. Some victims may think they are “going
crazy,” when they are having a normal reaction
to an abnormal event.
Getting back to normal can be a difficult process
after a personal experience of this kind, especially
for victims of violent crime and families of murder
victims. Learning to understand and feel more at
ease with the intense feelings can help victims
better cope with what happened.
Victims may need to seek help from friends, family,
a member of the clergy, a counselor, or a victim
Potential effects of trauma
Some people who have been victims of crime
may experience some of these symptoms.
advice if the symptoms persist.
Chills or sweating
Lack of coordination
Heart palpitations or chest pains
High blood pressure
Loss of appetite
Feeling lost, abandoned, and isolated
Wanting to withdraw or hide
Intrusive memories or flashbacks
Inability to concentrate
Difficulty in making decisions
Tips for coping
These are some ideas that may help you
cope with the trauma or loss:
Find someone to
talk with about how you feel and what you are
going through. Keep the phone
of a good friend nearby to call when you feel
overwhelmed or feel panicked.
to feel the pain. It will not last forever.
Spend time with others, but make
time to spend time alone.
Take care of your
mind and body. Rest, sleep, and eat regular,
Re-establish a normal routine
as soon as possible, but don’t over-do.
daily decisions, which will help to bring
back a feeling of control
Exercise, though not excessively
and alternate with periods
Undertake daily tasks with
care. Accidents are more
likely to happen
Recall the things
that helped you cope during
and loss in
that give you hope.
Turn to them on bad days.
are things to avoid:
Be careful about using alcohol
or drugs to relieve emotional pain.
addicted not only postpones healing, but also creates
Make daily decisions, but avoid
making life changing decisions in the immediate
may be temporarily impaired.
blame yourself—it wasn’t
Your emotions need to
be expressed. Try not to bottle
For some victims and families of victims,
life is forever changed. Life may feel empty and
Life doesn’t “mean” what it used
to. Part of coping and adjusting is redefining
the future. What seemed important before may not
be important now. Many victims find new meaning
in their lives as a result of their experience.
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.
For family and friends of a victim of crime
with the victim.
Offer your assistance, even
if they haven’t
asked for help.
Help with everyday
tasks like cleaning, cooking, caring for
the family, minding
Give them private
Don’t take their anger
or other feelings personally.
them they are “lucky it
people are not consoled by
Tell them that you are sorry
such an event has occurred
to them and
to understand and
The FBI has a number of brochures and pamphlets
for victims of crime.
for Victims of crime (pdf) (html)
Affected by Crime (pdf) (html)
for Victims of Trafficking in Persons and Forced
Crime and You. (pdf) (html)
National resources and hotlines for crime victims
The website for the Office for Victims of Crime
in the Department of Justice includes an on-line
of victim assistance programs.
Battered Women’s Justice Project
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Indian Country Child Abuse Hotline
Childhelp USA/Forrester National Child Abuse Hotline
(800) 222-4453, TDD
Family Violence Prevention Fund/Health Resource
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
(800) 826-7653, TDD
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Children’s Alliance
National Fraud Information Hotline
National Organization for Victim Assistance
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
(800) 553-2508, TDD
National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
Stalking Resource Center