Physical health issues can be painful reminders for crime victims. Victims may be seriously or permanently injured following a crime, and these injuries may prevent them from going to work or performing other day-to-day activities.
Victims of may suffer from mental health issues resulting from their victimization. Specifically, victims of a violent crime, such as assault and robbery, have reported feelings of distress, problems with work or school, and problems with family members and friends that include more arguments and an inability to trust them.
It is also critical to be aware of the mental health of victim service providers and first responders. Research shows that vicarious trauma, when left unaddressed, can lead to staff burnout, turnover, stress, and a lesser quality of services for victims. OVC’s Vicarious Trauma Toolkit offers guidance to help organizations strengthen their ability to address work-related exposure to trauma.
The following resources provide information on physical and mental health.
PTSD as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5, is a psychological reaction that occurs after experiencing a highly stressful event outside the range of normal human experience. PTS symptoms can happen without a full diagnosis of PTSD; the disorder is diagnosed when a number of the following PTS symptoms last longer than 1 month following a traumatic event:
- Re-experiencing or spontaneous memories and recurrent dreams of the traumatic event, flashbacks, or other intense or prolonged psychological distress.
- Avoidance of distressing memories, thoughts, feelings, or external reminders of the event.
- Negative cognitions and mood, including myriad feelings such as a persistent and distorted sense of blame of self or others, estrangement from others, markedly diminished interest in activities, and/or an inability to remember key aspects of the event.
- Arousal marked by aggressive, reckless, or self-destructive behavior; sleep disturbances; hypervigilance; and other related problems.
For additional information, visit the Physical and Mental Health section of our site.
To view publications and other resources related to the treatment of children who have been exposed to violence, visit the Office of Justice Programs’ Children Exposed to Violence Special Feature. This online resource also provides information on the prevalence of childhood exposure to violence, along with information on prevention.
Also visit the National Institute of Justice’s CrimeSolutions.gov website. CrimeSolutions.gov provides evaluations of justice-related programs and practices, including programs aimed at working with children exposed to violence.