Onus to protect victims of violent crimes

No one can imagine how terrifying it would be to be the victim of a violent crime such as an armed robbery unless they have been in that exact situation.

The psychological scars such an ordeal would have on any individual would be deep and long-lasting.

According to psychologists, there’s no right or wrong way for a victim of a violent crime to react. Different people react differently. 

Those reactions can range from feelings of disbelief and shock right through to complete mental breakdowns or even post-traumatic or acute stress disorders.

Being able to talk to someone about those feelings can be cathartic, but often those victims feel less inclined to want to talk to friends or family. That’s why access to a wide range of professional counselling services is so important.

Counselling can help victims manage the emotional and physical impact of the crime and regain a sense of control over their lives life. 

During any trial, the victim of a crime is often able to submit what is known as a victim impact statement – giving magistrates the opportunity hear first-hand how the crime has impact their life and the lives of those around them.

From an outsider’s perspective, it can sometimes be puzzling (or confronting) to see the perpetrator of violent crimes – particularly repeat offenders – given lenient sentences, while often the victims may never truly get over the trauma of the crime. 

It must always be remembered that victims never completely forget about their ordeal. Those memories stay with them forever. Having to re-live every moment of such a traumatic event during the trial itself can be particularly distressing.

There is a rule of thought here that participation in the criminal justice system can help victims to building their lives and move on – giving them closure.

For those who don’t move on or take closure form the experience, experts say that for any victim to truly move past their experience they must accept that many incidents of violent crimes are random, often senseless and without reason, and can happen to anyone regardless of the precautions they take.

As a society, the onus is also on all of us to make sure those victims are given the support and help they need.