All victims of crime have the right to receive support and assistance. The government has established a national code of practice for victim support services, which sets out the standards of support that victims of crime should expect to receive. These standards ensure that the effects of crime on victims are acknowledged and dealt with in a sensitive way that is victim-centered. So what impacts might offending have on victims?
The effects of crime can be a traumatic experience for victims and the impact can be far-reaching and long-lasting, often affecting mental and physical health. Additionally, it can impact on social and personal relationships as well as financial stability.
Here are 3 common ways victims could be effected by crime.
In my experience, one of the most immediate effects is emotional. For example, victims may experience shock, fear, anger, and sadness. On occasion, these feelings can be overwhelming and can lead to the victim feeling isolated and helpless. Victims may also experience feelings of guilt or shame e.g. thinking they could have prevented it, even though they are not responsible for the crime that was committed against them.
Social and personal relationships may also be effected. For example, as a result of crime perpetrated against them, they may struggle to trust others and this could result in a change to how they behave in a social setting. An example could be missing a meeting with friends as they are scared to take public transport or changing their route home because they feel unsafe. They may also experience a strain on their relationships with family, particularly if they are not able to talk about the crime or if their loved ones who they may perceive as not being able to understand.
Victims may have suffered damage to property or lost valuable possessions. Victims may also experience a loss of income if they are unable to work due to their physical or emotional health. The financial impact of crime can be particularly challenging for those who are already struggling financially or who have limited resources.
There are of course many ways victims can be effected, however it is important that all victims receive support. Moreover, this support should be evidence-based and take into account the individuals needs. For example, some victims will have more needs than others and these may vary in complexity and so it is important to tailor the response to the individual. Needs could cover a range of issues such as substance misuse, low confidence/self-esteem, lack of support network, loss of employment, negative sense of identity associated with the experience of being a victim.
Conclusively, the most important thing for victims to know is that they are not alone and in all circumstances should be offered support. The victims code itself states:
“You have the Right to be referred to services that support victims, which includes the Right to contact them directly, and to have your needs assessed so services and support can be tailored to meet your needs. If eligible, you have the Right to be offered a referral to specialist support services and to be told about additional support available at court, for example special measures.”
If you would like to know more about how RSMS supports victims, please contact – email@example.com