U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Losing a Loved One to Homicide: What We Know about Homicide Co-Victims from Research and Practice Evidence

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2019
35 pages

This report by the Center for Victim Research (CVR) summarizes findings from research and practice on the needs of homicide co-victims (family members and loved ones of the victim) and how services for homicide co-victims can be improved.


The reported CVR research on homicide co-victims focuses on the prevalence and detection of homicide co-victims; risk factors for homicide co-victimization; harms and consequences; prevention, interventions, and victim services; and implications for research, policy, and practice. Homicide co-victims face a range of psychological harms that include posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and prolonged grief. This requires their access to a variety of early interventions that may not be readily available. Relatively few services are tailored to co-victims’ complex needs, and few of those have been evaluated. An exception is a therapy called “Restorative Retelling,” which is a group therapy program that has shown promise in improving victims’ psychological well-being. Co-victims need wrap-around services and long-term care in fully addressing their needs. This should include assistance in media interactions and management of the stress that stems from criminal justice proceedings. The rarity of such services for homicide co-victims requires that researchers, policymakers, and practitioners focus on expansion of the knowledge base and availability of services tailored to the identified needs of homicide co-victims. 160 references

Date Published: July 1, 2019