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Support and assistance 

This page contains links to information about:
Getting support
The effects of crime
Different kinds of crime
Reducing the effects of crime
Murder - a witness' story
Burglary - a personal story
Homophobic crime - a personal story

Different kinds of crime

This page gives more information about the crimes of burglary, domestic violence, murder and manslaughter, racist incidents and sexual violence and explains what Victim Support can do to help.

Burglary

Burglary is a serious crime that can affect victims both financially and emotionally. In 1997, there were over 1.6 million domestic burglaries in England and Wales. Burglary is the crime most commonly referred to Victim Support, with nearly half a million victims of burglary being offered help each year.

People react to burglary in different ways. Although for some people burglary amounts to no more than  an irritating inconvenience, many victims feel anger, shock, disorientation, disbelief or fear. All these reactions are normal and usually temporary. Talking to a sympathetic listener can help. Victim Support can offer:

  • a trained volunteer with whom you can talk in confidence

  • information on repairs and home security

  • information on compensation, insurance and replacing important documents

  • contact with other sources of help.

Victim Support can also arrange for a volunteer to accompany you to the police station or court.

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Domestic violence

It is estimated that one woman in four suffers domestic violence at some time in their lives and that domestic violence accounts for one-quarter of all violent crime. Domestic violence can include verbal abuse, restrictions on contact with family or friends, threats, physical assaults, rape and murder. It is rarely a one-off event and can escalate in severity and frequency over time.

Victim Support Schemes work with other local agencies in providing services to victims of domestic violence. Many Victim Support Schemes undertake long-term work with victims of domestic violence  and the services they offer include:

  • personal support - giving the woman time to talk about her experiences and feelings

  • information about the options available

  • information on the criminal justice system

  • practical assistance, for example with form filling.

Victim Support will refer those who need more specialist help to appropriate agencies. Victim Support's Witness Service can also provide information about court procedures, pre-trial familiarisation visits, and volunteers to accompany witnesses to court.

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Murder and manslaughter

Losing someone through a violent crime is a devastating experience. In the immediate aftermath of the crime, victims may have strong and overwhelming feelings such as shock, disbelief, numbness or panic. Every person experiences bereavement differently and often feelings change from day to day.

Victim Support has specially trained staff and volunteers who are able to support people bereaved by violent crime. If needed, these volunteers remain in contact with individuals on a regular basis over a period of time. Volunteers can:

  • offer practical help - it can be difficult to sort out practical matters while you are coping with losing someone suddenly

  • provide information on the criminal justice system, including the police investigation, the role of the Coroner, what will happen in court, and what happens to the offender

  • accompany you to the police station or to the Coroner's court.

Although life will never be the same again, we believe that talking about the experience can help. Victim Support staff and volunteers have the time to listen.

Victim Support works closely with SAMM (Support After Murder and Manslaughter), a self help organisation for the families and friends of murder and manslaughter victims. You can contact SAMM on 020 7735 3838 or by email.

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Racist incidents

Racist crime can take many forms ranging from intimidation, graffiti, offensive letters, telephone calls and criminal damage to physical assault, arson and murder. As well as providing emotional support, Victim Support's trained volunteers can offer:

  • practical help, for example assisting with repairs or security

  • information on police and housing procedures

  • information on compensation.

Our volunteers and staff can also act as advocates if desired, assisting communication with the range of other agencies which may become involved. Local Victim Support Schemes have a good working knowledge of, and relationship with, other agencies and services available in the local community.

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Sexual violence

Both women and men can be raped or sexually assaulted and this is a very distressing experience. For this reason, it may be weeks, months or even years before victims can begin to acknowledge and talk about their experience. Many sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, and in these cases the impact may be even greater.

Support and understanding are important and it helps to have someone to talk to in confidence. All Victim Support volunteers who work with victims of sexual violence have been specially selected and trained for this work. Victim Support Schemes offer:

  • emotional support and information so that the victim can talk about their feelings about the crime and think through what they want to do following the attack

  • information about the urgent practical, medical and personal issues which may arise following a crime of sexual violence

  • information on compensation

  • to accompany the victim to the police station

  • referral to specialist help from other agencies when appropriate.

If your case goes to court, then Victim Support's Witness Service can arrange a pre-trial visit for you and can provide information and explanation about the legal process. Volunteers can also accompany witnesses into court when they are called to give evidence. The Witness Service provides private waiting areas in court, to ensure that victims and witnesses do not have to sit near the defendant and their family.

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(c) Victim Support
This page was last revised:14/06/01
Victim Support National Office, Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London SW9 6DZ
Tel. 020 7735 9166, fax 020 7582 5712, contact@victimsupport.org.uk