Victims of Crimes

“To those who abuse: the sin is yours, the crime is yours, and the shame is yours. To those who protect the perpetrators: blaming the victims only masks the evil within, making you as guilty as those who abuse. Stand up for the innocent or go down with the rest.”

Crime is frequent, increasing, and truly democratic; it affects Americans regardless of sex, race, and age. According to the FBI’s final 1995 statistics for violent and property crime, 13.9 million offenses were committed, or 5 offenses for every 100 people. The chance that you will be the victim of a violent crime (with or without injury) is greater than your risk of being hurt in a car accident.

Who Are Crime Victims?

A crime victim is anyone who is harmed or made to suffer by another’s violent or brutal actions. Victims may have experenced physical or sexual assault or faced a person wielding a weapon during a robbery. Victims may have survived a car accident caused by a drunk driver. They may have witnessed the death or serious injury of a friend, relative, or stranger as a result of a crime. Victims of crime can also be those who hear, secondhand, of violence to loved ones: for example, when a family member is told by the police or emergency-room physician of the violent death of a loved one. In addition to possible physical injuries, a crime can also cause mental or emotional stress (also called trauma).

What May Happen to You During a Crime?

During a crime, victims experience a major life crisis that, at the time, often seems impossible to overcome; they feel that they can’t stop it from happening. Reactions to a crime vary, but usually an individual feels powerless, helpless, and experiences very strong emotions such as fear, hopelessness, and anger. Often it may seem dreamlike, time seems to slow down, and sound can seem distorted. These are normal reactions to a trauma.

What Problems Can Occur Following a Crime?

The first few days following a trauma can be a time of emotional confusion. It is normal and expected that during the first few weeks following a trauma a person’s life will be disrupted in many ways. Each person’s response is different, but usually they can expect periods of confusion and rushes of strong feelings. Memories of the experience are likely to pop up unexpectedly, and the victim will feel scared and unsafe. Other problems that victims have include difficulties sleeping, physical distress, such as stomach tightness and muscle soreness, and loss of appetite.

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy are types of treatment that are based firmly on research findings. These approaches aid people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

  • A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
  • A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
  • A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
  • A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like lessening back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Behavior Therapists and Cognitive Behavior Therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life, not on personality traits. Behavior Therapists and Cognitive Behavior Therapists treat individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. Replacing ways of living that do not work well with ways of living that work, and giving people more control over their lives, are common goals of behavior and cognitive behavior therapy.