Crime is a menace to societal peace. Despite actions by the US Government to curb it, crime remains one of the leading causes of death.
Homicide, for instance, is the third leading cause of death in the US among people ages 1–44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A crime is an action that is punishable by law. Although there is more focus on violent crime, property crime is more common.
A report by the Pew Research Center discovered that theft was the most common form of property crime, followed by burglary and motor vehicle theft. At the same time, aggravated assault was the most common violent crime, followed by robbery, rape, and murder.
With the current reality of our society, it is evident that crime can only be prevented but is impossible to eliminate. Anyone can be a victim of a crime. A criminal may still target you even after taking every step possible to protect yourself or avoid being a victim.
How people cope as victims of crime depends largely on their experiences after the crime. If you or your loved one is a victim of crime, there are crime victim resources that can help ensure your safety and cope with the aftermath of the offence.
Who is sueable for a crime?
As per the law, only humans are capable of committing crimes. However, animal owners can be sued for the actions of their pets.
For instance, if you suffered personal injury from a dog bite, you can sue the owner. People found criminally responsible for committing a criminal offence can be convicted, and penalties may be imposed upon them as provided for in the relevant law.
How crime can affect victims
Meanwhile, crime victims, aside from the possibility of suffering physical injuries, often suffer psychological and social injuries that may last a long time, even after their physical wounds have healed.
Crime affects victims differently. The experience is similar to that of veterans; victims may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also, knowing the crime was committed deliberately by another person can make coping harder.
Victims of crime may experience any of the following:
- Emotional numbing
- Strong emotions like anger, fear, isolation, and low self-esteem
- Lack of sleep
- Anxiety-related illnesses
Factors that contribute to how victims react to a crime
The crime victimisation rate is higher among youths than the elderly. Crimes experienced by the elderly are also less severe. However, seniors are more likely to welcome victim services than younger victims.
Children who were physically abused or sexually abused are also likely to become abusive parents themselves. The abuse rate among individuals with a history of abuse is approximately six times higher than the base rate for abuse in the general population.
Type of crime
The psychological trauma of victimisation is more than enough to deal with in a lifetime. It is worse if the crime is repeated or ongoing, such as domestic violence or racial harassment.
It is a big issue when you know the offenders are intentionally singling you out.
Relationship with offender
Dealing with the aftermath of a crime can be more difficult if the offender is someone you know or trust.
You may feel strong emotions like betrayal, hurt, or grief if the suspect is a friend or family member.
Family and friends can help heal faster from a crime’s injury and psychological trauma. This is only possible if the people surrounding the victim are empathic and supportive.
Some victims were surrounded by people who cared less about how they felt. They are not helpful and would expect them to forget what happened and move on.
Victims may also suffer stigmatisation from friends, family, and social institutions, which can become a “second wound” for them.
Dealing with past difficult experiences can help cope with the aftermath of a crime.
For victims who have never experienced anything similar, coping may be more challenging.
What to do if you are a victim of a crime
Most violent and property crimes in the U.S. are not reported to the police. A lot of those reported are not solved.
If you or your loved one is a victim of crime, below is what you can do:
Get medical attention
Violent crimes can result in physical injuries. If you or your loved one is a victim, it is vital to seek medical attention immediately.
Even if you believe you are fine, getting a proper evaluation by a trained professional is recommended.
The shock of the event might not make you realise the injury sustained at the moment.
Ensure the safety of people around you
If you are in immediate danger, do not hesitate to call 911 or the local police emergency number in your area immediately.
Offenders can be unpredictable. They may not stop injuring you alone. Your safety and that of your loved ones are essential.
You may also need to leave the house or area where the crime occurred for optimal safety.
Report to relevant law enforcement
Report the crime to relevant law enforcement in your area immediately. Be as detailed as possible in describing the event, suspect, damages, and any other matter concerning the crime.
The more detail the police have, the higher their chances of solving the crime. Also, let them know if you think the offender might return so that they can ensure your safety.
You should have a list of your valuables along with serial numbers or means of identification and photos. This can help retrieve or track down the suspects in case you suffer a property crime.
If your credit, debit, or identity cards were stolen, contact all relevant organisations and authorities to hotlist your cards. Provide this information to the police; it may help track down the suspects whenever they try to use your cards.
Access support resources
Victims of crime are often affected mentally and emotionally, if not worse than they were physically injured.
Crime victims can access support resources to help them cope with the aftermath of the crime. These resources may include:
- Temporary shelter
- Support groups
- Counselling sessions
- Legal aid services
Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.