Information, Referral, and Support for Victims, their Families and Witnesses of Crime
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF A ROBBERY...
You've all seen a pebble drop into a pool of water and noticed the ripples which are produced by the impact of that pebble. A similar ripple occurs from person to person when crime victimization happens.
As an employee, you have been exposed to a crime in your work setting. Even if you were not directly confronted during the incident, you will experience reactions from your exposure to the robbery or attempted robbery.
How people react to these events varies from person to person and is affected by individual factors such as how you usually handle stressful situations and what kind of support you have both inside and outside work.
Your reaction may be immediate or may be delayed. You may experience symptoms that are physical, emotional, or cognitive (involving your thinking ability)
IT IS IMPORTANT TO REALIZE THAT THESE ARE NORMAL FEELINGS, BEHAVIORS, AND REACTIONS TO AN ABNORMAL EVENT...
Employees who have been through a robbery or an attempted robbery report having a variety of experiences
They are afraid of leaving the bank, being in public, or being re-victimized. They are afraid the robber will find them or will come back.
They find that they startle easily; they "jump" when suddenly approached by customers or when they hear loud sounds.
They feel that they could have done something differently; they wonder if they could have prevented the incident, or if they didn't do something they should have.
They are enraged that their life has been disrupted and that they no longer feel safe or in control.
They feel that they are the only ones who are having reactions to the event; they feel isolated from family and friends, and they feel no one can understand what they have been through.
Emotional and Physical responses
- Irritability, which may be directed at family and friends.
- Loss of motivation - feeling blue or depressed.
- Apathy and indifference.
- Chronic fatigue and flashbacks.
COPING WITH THE AFTERMATH OF CRIME VICTIMIZATION...
Awareness and understanding are crucial in beginning to deal effectively with this event in your life. You can begin by being aware that you MAY react in some of the ways we have discussed. Remember that your reactions are normal.
1) You may find that you react to sights, sounds, smells, and textures that were present at the time of the crime and which remind you of the incident.
2) Sometimes, being exposed to a traumatic event may trigger memories of past events in your life which were also traumatic or which involved loss of control. Perhaps you have been in a robbery before, have been an assault victim, or have lost someone in death. You may find yourself reacting anew to feelings about these earlier events.
3) Feelings of vulnerability and helplessness are frequent after victimization. One of the first things to pay attention to is your need to feel safe again. For a short time, take any precaution which will make you feel safer. Some example might include:
- Having someone drive you to work and pick you up at the end of the day.
- Following procedures that will protect you from as much risk as possible at work or at home.
- Making your daily schedule as predictable and routine as possible for awhile to return some control and stability in your life.
EVERYONE REACTS DIFFERENTLY TO TRAGIC EVENTS, SO BE PREPARED FOR A VARIETY OF REACTIONS AT A VARIETY OF TIMES...
Support from all sources is especially important at this time to help the victims function normally after the incident. Typically,the levels of support include:
1) Your work group
Very possibly these people have gone through the trauma with you and know how you feel. Use each other to talk about your feelings and support each other. However, discuss the following reactions with your co-workers:
- Don't startle, surprise, or pertinent to aim a real or imaginary gun at the victim.
- Don't feel rejected when victims want time alone.
- Healing takes an enormous amount of psychic energy. Be prepared for mood swings which include anger, depression, and the feeling that "nothing good ever happens to me".
2) Your community
You may find this support in friends, professional counselors, the clergy, or other significant people in your life. And you will get help either from the United States Attorney's Victim-Witness Coordinator (618-628-3700) or the Shelby County District Attorney General's Victim-Witness Coordinator (901-576-5900)
3) Your family
They will need to know what is happening with you and what to expect. They will react to your experience, but may not have the information needed to deal with it as you do. Please remember that children are very perceptive. Do not underestimate their ability to understand and deal with life's trauma. Let your child know that you are all right. Nightmare come. Crying happens.
SOME IDEAS FOR CO-WORKERS AND FAMILY...
the victim to talk about the event even long after you are tired of hearing about
minimize the fear or seriousness of the event as a way of "helping".
The victim then feels that you don't adequately understand the event or sympathize
with fears that normally occur after such a traumatic event.
ask "why" questions. They put blame on the victim.
though you want to "make it all better," try to understand that the
suffering is normal. IT is a genuine healing process that must be worked through.
sexual dysfunction is not an unusual reaction for victims.
desire for extra security precautions is normal. Such as locking house and car
doors, using night lights, leaving radios and televisions on.
is the time to be more considerate of "little things" such as:
- Calling home if you expect to be delayed
- Helping with household tasks
- Assuming responsibility for tasks the victim ordinarily performs
Although a spokesperson may have been designated to speak for your institution, you may also be contacted by the media. You have the right to decline comment.
PREPARING TO TESTIFY...
You are an important witness if the robber is apprehended. You may be needed as a witness and may have to attend a line-up and testify in court. The prosecutors and victim-witness coordinators from the United States Attorney's Office (federal cases)or the District Attorney's Office (state cases) will keep you informed of the progress of your case and will help you through the criminal justice system.
Resolution of traumatic stress is a healing process. It is important to allow yourself time to heal at your own pace. It is important that you actively seek support from you family, friends, co-workers, and possibly professional counseling and victim support groups.
Illinois Crime Victim Compensation Program
Click this link for more information:
or your family may be eligible for reimbursement of your expenses
if you have been a victim of a crime or if you have been
injured while trying to prevent a crime. Reimbursement
may be made for the following:
1) Compensation for Medical Expenses
2) Compensation for Temporary, Partial, or Total Disability
3) compensation for Pain and Suffering
4) Death Benefits
5) Compensation for Property Loss or Damage
more information about the program,
please call 618-628-3700.
If you have questions, please call Julie Swanston, Victim Witness Coordinator for the Southern District of Illinois at (618) 628-3700.