About 50 million crimes are committed each year in the U.S., with only 14 million arrests made. Most attention is placed on the criminals, but programs exist to help victims.
“There are far more victims of crime than criminals,” stated Dr. Greg Little, a psychologist who specializes in criminal justice. “Crime victims face serious issues that touch nearly every area of their lives. These include feelings of safety and security, financial loss and potential health issues.”
In 2011, Little and psychologist Dr. Ken Robinson coauthored a book for crime victims titled “Self Preservation.”
“It really is about self preservation,” Little stated, “and it’s important to take action when you have been victimized by a crime.”
Among their suggestions are five steps or lessons to keep in mind.
1. Victims need to view themselves as survivors who have some control. Some governments have services designed to assist victims. Understand your rights. Take control of what you can, and lower the probability of being victimized again.
2. What happens to the offender will probably be largely out of the victim’s control. Getting angry at the “system” is a typical response as is the desire to retaliate. Neither anger nor thoughts of retaliation are beneficial.
3. Nearly all crime victims want to immediately move from the problems caused by the crime, back to their normal life. It’s understandable but can lead to some bad decisions. Ask a simple question about each decision you make: “Will this actually make things better?”
4. Use family, friends and social support groups to help cope with the various feelings and stress. Many people won’t know what to do, so just talk to them about your fears and hopes. Don’t go through the process alone.
5. The most serious issue that crime victims face is trauma. Many victims have trouble sleeping and mentally relive the crime again and again, which just develops feelings of depression, anxiety and overall paranoia. Reliving the trauma is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Don’t ignore PTSD symptoms, and seek help if you think you’re experiencing PTSD. Professional help may be required, but social support groups can also offer assistance.