Crime Victim

You have been the victim of a crime. No matter what led to the crime, you are not at fault. The person that committed the crime (the offender) is at fault. It is normal to feel many strong emotions, such as shock, embarrassment, fear, depression, blame, guilt, shame, or anger. For a while, you may not be able to think clearly. You likely have strong emotions about what happened to you. This is normal. Here's what to do next.

Report the crime

If the crime has not already been reported to the police, it is vital that you do this as soon as possible. If you need support to do this, ask a trusted family member or friend to be with you. When you talk to the police:

  • Give as much detail as possible.

  • Get the police officer’s business card and write the case number on it. Keep this in a safe place.

  • Request that the police notify you if they make an arrest or when the case goes to the prosecutor’s or district attorney’s office.

  • Find out if there is a victim assistance or advocate program in your community. Such a program can give you specific information about your rights, the prosecution process, how to get money for damages, and other support services.

Keep records

  • Keep a record of the crime. Include the date, time, and place along with names of the offender(s) and any witnesses.

  • Write down the names of the police officers involved in the case and the case number. Also write down the prosecutor assigned to the case, the victim advocate, and any other people or programs that you are referred to.

  • To get money for damages, save receipts for medical treatment and mileage to go to the hospital, police, or courthouse. Keep a record of stolen/damaged property. In addition, keep track of the time you take off work to deal with any aspect of the crime.

Stay safe

If you are scared that the offender may harm you again, ask the police about specific steps you should take to stay safe. Request that you be told when the offender is arrested or when they are released from jail. Some communities have shelters for victims of domestic violence that offer temporary housing. The location of these shelters is kept secret to protect the people that need them. Ask the police or the victims advocate for shelter telephone numbers. Be certain to keep them where your partner can't find them. 

If you are a victim of domestic violence and are still in a violent situation, put together an emergency escape kit and keep it in a safe place outside your home. This kit might contain: 

  • Identification (Social Security numbers, birth certificates, photo ID, passports, visa)

  • Important documents (marriage license, divorce papers, custody papers, health insurance)

  • Duplicate keys (car, home, safety deposit box)

  • Telephone numbers and addresses (shelters, police, family and friends)

  • Cash

  • A 1-month supply of medicines

Get help

Don’t isolate yourself. Extra support at this time is important. You may prefer to stay with family or a friend for emotional support and to help you feel safe. If family and friends intentionally or unintentionally cause you more stress, ask the victim's advocate for the name of a crisis counselor. Short-term emotional support can be very helpful.

Resources

Seek out local resources or refer to the links below for more information:

  • National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC). Offers victim services, referrals, articles on victim’s issues, and other resources. www.ncvc.org

  • National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA). Has articles on victim’s issues, provides victim assistance, and coordinates the National Crime Victim Information and Referral Hotline. www.trynova.org 800-879-6682

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline. Offers 24/7 support and local shelter referrals in over 170 languages. www.thehotline.org 800-799-7233 (TTY 800-787-3224)

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