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2024 National Crime Victims' Rights Week

How many people do you interact with every week? For many people, it’s dozens: family, friends, coworkers, classmates. For others, the answer is hundreds; think about preachers, flight attendants, grocery store clerks, or bank employees. Even those who have a small circle of close contacts may interact with more people than they think. When you factor in activities like going to the store, getting a haircut, taking transit, or even playing a multiplayer video game online, the number starts to rise.


Why is that important? Each person you interact with is someone with unique lived experiences. And they may consider you someone they trust or can turn to for help. If someone confided in you about a crime committed against them, what would you do? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. In 2022, there were nearly 20 million crime victimizations in the United States. More than 6.6 million were the result of violent crimes, including rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault, and of that 6.6 million, only about 42% were reported to police. A survivor could be your family member, coworker, friend, teammate, or even an acquaintance. Here are some tips about how you can be prepared to help.


Offer support


Start by listening with empathy and without judgement. When someone confides in you, the very act of giving them your time and paying attention can go a long way. Be sure to listen actively, focusing on what they say and showing that you hear them. Don’t interrupt or spend time focusing on your response while they’re talking. Talking to someone can be a crucial step on a crime survivor’s journey toward healing. In some cases, this may even be a step toward justice for them; there may be no viable recourse in the criminal justice system, and the act of telling someone who can listen in a meaningful way, can be powerful.


Share resources


Educate yourself on the resources that are available for crime victims and survivors in your community. You should familiarize yourself with the names of local victim service organizations and national hotlines. Think outside of the box, too. Learn about housing assistance, low-cost medical care, legal aid services in your area — the list goes on.


The VictimConnect Resource Center (victimconnect.org) also has an accessible map of resources across the U.S. and you can find a list of national hotlines at https://ovc. ojp.gov/help-for-victims/toll-free-text-and-online-hotlines.


Don’t underestimate the power of hope


The act of active listening, or an offer to help a crime survivor find appropriate resources if needed, can allow them to see that their future can be improved and that they can take steps to make it better. Hope is an essential component of mitigating some effects of trauma. To learn more about options, services, and hope for crime survivors as well as access material to help spread awareness of victims’ rights and resources, visit ovc.ojp.gov/ncvrw2024 today.



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