Victims of interpersonal violence, especially those who are victims of sexual or physical violence,
emotional abuse or stalking, can have a host of different reactions. For example, they may be
calm, angry, tearful, depressed, nonchalant, or even display nervous laughter. Any of these
reactions is a normal response to being the victim of a violent crime.
It can be difficult for survivors to talk about what has happened, because many of them may feel shame, embarrassment and/or self-blame.
The trauma of being victimized may cause the victim to have difficulty recalling the incident, details of what happened or the order of the events. Memory of certain aspects of the event may or may not emerge over time. This is normal and is not necessarily an indicator that the victim is being untruthful.
The impact of crime victimization can result in a host of psychological and physical reactions such as depression, anxiety, difficulty eating, sleeping or concentrating, physical pain, and/or stomach problems. While some victims will heal on their own, there will be others that develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or substance abuse issues in the wake of crime victimization.
With regards to academics, student survivors may have difficulty completing work in some but not necessarily all of their classes. Some students may have an easier time with classes that are more concept-based, yet have greater difficulty in handling classes that require a great deal of memorization or calculations such as math or chemistry. For other students the reverse might be true, or they may have difficulty completing work in any of their classes.
Helping a person who has recently been victimized by a crime can be challenging.
The best way to be supportive to the person is to stay calm, be non-judgmental and respectful in your responses. Remember that talking about these experiences can be incredibly difficult. Your supportive response can help the healing process and encourage the victim to seek all the supportive services he or she needs.
The three most important things that you can state directly to the victim of a crime are:
I believe you.
It's not your fault.
You have options.
The language you use makes a difference. It is important to avoid questions that start with “why” (e.g. “Why did you go there?”) because they can be experienced by the victim as blaming him or her for what happened.
The campus has a number of great resources to effectively handle the various needs of students that are outlined in the victim services and resources section.
Remember that your role is not to investigate the crime. Your job will be to listen and offer information on resources on and off campus. Depending on the victim’s emotional state, facilitating a referral may be as simple as providing relevant phone numbers or other contact information. However, if the victim requires more support, facilitating a referral may involve you calling the particular office and arranging an appointment, or escorting them to the office or emergency room.
We strongly encourage members of the campus community to report all instances of crime. These reports help the UIC police and administration hold perpetrators accountable, monitor crime and develop targeted prevention efforts. If you are a Campus Security Authority (Clery Reporter), please see the section on reporting crime and CSA responsibilities.
Hearing about experiences of violence and providing support can sometimes be overwhelming.
If you want to contact someone off-campus, you can contact the Center for the Prevention of
Abuse at 800.559.7233 for consultation, support or to debrief about your experience.
The Campus Advocacy Network, located on the Chicago campus, can also provide a place to debrief or receive support in your role as a responsible Clery reporter. Campus Advocacy Network staff are available for phone consultation either during or after you meet with the student victim at 312.413.8206.
Copyright © 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois