Helping Victims of Crime

What Helps

  • Make connections with community-based and corrections-based advocacy resources
  • Consider victim safety and confidentiality at all times
  • Wait for the victim to initiate direct contact whenever possible
  • Use respectful communication (verbal and non-verbal)
  • Elicit their perspective: ask questions about what they need
  • Share information and other resources
  • Allow them to vent. Validate their feelings and concerns
  • Assure victims that you will consider their safety in decisions that you make
  • Explain the process of probation/parole/reentry and discuss special conditions of supervision
  • Explain the benefits and limitations of community supervision
  • Provide opportunities for choice to give victims back some control that was taken away by the person who committed the crime (i.e. ask the victim their preferred times and modes of contact (i.e. cell phone, mail, at work, at home)
  • Explain protocols in the event that the victim’s perpetrator tries to contact them
  • Make time to communicate (in person, email, or telephone) to address victim’s needs

What Hurts

  • Contacting victims without their prior consent may increase their risk of further harm
  • Assuming you understand the victims’ perspective
  • Being judgmental
  • Being a lone ranger and trying to do your work without the support of advocates and other resources
  • Leaving victim information in an unsecure location like on top of a desk, caller ID/phones
  • Forgetting to include the victim in status change updates
  • Making promises you can’t keep or follow through on

“Since suffering confers no rights on its victims, we who witness are the ones responsible for restoring these lost right.”

Liv Ullmann

Helpful Things To Say To Victims

  • What do you need?
  • What can I do for you?
  • I’m sorry the happened.
  • What happened to you is not your fault.
  • I believe you.
  • Your case is important/unique.
  • Are you safe?
  • Do you have any concerns about your safety?
  • Who else have you spoken to?
  • Would you like a referral for further victim assistance?
  • Can I make any calls for you?
  • Do you need anything else? If you do, contact me at….
  • Is now a good time to talk? Is there a better time to talk?
  • You’re not going crazy.
  • I can’t imagine how difficult this was or is for you.
  • I am going to try my best to help you.
  • I don’t know, but I’ll find out.
  • How are you doing?
  • Let’s see if we can figure out your most important needs right now.
  • I’m glad you called.

Things Not To Say To Victims

  • I know how you feel.
  • You should forgive.
  • I understand what you’re going through.
  • Time heals all wounds.
  • Why?
  • Why didn’t you?
  • Why were you…didn’t you?
  • It could be worse.
  • Your case reminds me of another victim I dealt with.
  • What you need is…
  • As a general rule of thumb…
  • You’re so lucky.
  • It’s God’s will (or any religious platitude).
  • Get over it. Get on with your life.
  • Move on, put it behind you.
  • You’re not the only victim I’m trying to help.
  • You need to get over it/get on with your life.
  • They aren’t really bad people.
  • I can promise you that will happen for sure.
  • The poor defendant had a really tough childhood.
  • If I were in your shoes… You should have…
  • You’re so strong…
  • At least you weren’t hurt…
  • Nothing at all.