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  • Crime Victim Mental Trauma

  • Crime Victim Mental Trauma

    Victimization can obliterate the most fundamental assumptions that people rely upon in order to function each day of their lives-that they are immune from harm; that events in this world are predictable and just; and that they are worthwhile, decent individuals. Failure to intervene with crime victims rapidly and appropriately can compound emotional and physical distress resulting from assaultive violence.

    In 1982, the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime (President's Task Force, 1982) concluded that the criminal justice system's treatment of crime victims was a national disgrace and specifically noted that violent crime produces psychological and physical injuries. The President's Task Force also called on the mental health community to:

      Develop immediate- and long-term psychological treatment programs for crime victims and their families.

      Work with victim services to ensure that crime victims have access to competent psychological treatment.

      Study crime-related psychological trauma.

      Establish training programs for practitioners who work with crime victims.
    Why Should the Criminal Justice System Concern Itself With Crime Victims' Crime-Related Psychological Trauma?

    Crime-related psychological trauma impairs the ability and/or willingness of many crime victims to cooperate with the criminal justice system.

    The President's Task Force argued that victims must be treated better by the criminal justice system because it cannot accomplish its mission without the cooperation of victims. At every key stage of the criminal or juvenile justice system process-from contemplating making a report to police, to attending a parole hearing-interactions can be stressful for victims and often exacerbate crime-related psychological trauma.

    Victims whose crime-related fear makes them reluctant to report crimes to police or who are too terrified to testify effectively make it impossible for the criminal justice system to accomplish its mission. Thus, it is important to understand the following dynamics that may hamper the criminal justice process:

      Victims' crime-related mental health problems.

      Which aspects of the criminal justice system process are stressful to victims.

      What can be done to help victims with their crime-related mental health problems.

      What can be done to help victims cope with justice system-related stress. Effective partnerships among the criminal and juvenile justice systems, victim assistance personnel, and trained mental health professionals can help victims with crime-related psychological trauma and with justice system-related stress. By helping victims through such partnerships, the criminal and juvenile justice systems also help themselves become more effective in curbing and reducing crime.

    This information came from a
    US DOJ online article.

    *** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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