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Things Fall Apart - Victims in Crisis

NCJ Number
Evaluation and Change Dated: Special Issue (1980) Pages: 28-35
M Bard; D Sangrey
Date Published
8 pages
Victims of personal crime experience emotional stress which develops in three stages of varying length and intensity: (1) disorganization, (2) struggle, and (3) readjustment. The support of the police, doctors, and friends is crucial for the recovery.
The severity of the victim's emotional reaction to personal crime depends on the degree of violation of the self (e.g., an assault will usually precipitate a stronger crisis reaction than a purse snatching), and the capacity of each person to deal with stress. However, the kind of help the victim receives immediately, after the crime is a crucial factor in influencing the severity of the stress as well as the chances of full recovery. Immediately after the crime, or several hours later if the reaction is delayed, the victim will feel helpless, disoriented, and in need of support. This first stage will diminish, if satisfied. The persons helping the victim should listen carefully to the victims' expression of his or her needs without imposing their own views. During the second stage, when the victim experiences inner struggle, sometimes talks a lot about the experience, and shows withdrawal and anger, friends and relatives can help by providing stability and reassurance. As a result, the victim will gradually be able to put the experience into perspective, (the third stage), and resume normal life, even though the event can never be entirely forgotten. Descriptions of specific cases and footnotes are included.