Victim Assistance Programs
Victim assistance programs can help different people, in different ways. The victims’ advocates who work for the program can:
- Help make a personal safety plan that the victim or family can use to avoid being victimized again, or to use if someone thinks that he or she might be in danger. If a victim is thinking about leaving a violent relationship, that person should have a safety plan because the risk of violence gets higher when a victim leaves. Victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, stalking and harassment also should have safety plans. A victims’ advocate can help think about planning for work, travel, housing, moving childcare and other aspects of life.
- Help act as support or spokesperson in difficult situations.
- Help the victim get registered for VINE to be notified about future hearings for the offender or about the offender’s release from custody. The victim can tell the victims’ advocate, or the prosecutor or the Department of Corrections if the victim wants to know where the offender is lodged. VINE is a telephone notification system (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) that will call and tell the victim if the offender is transferred from one institution to another, or if the offender is released or escapes from custody.
Newspapers and Television
Newspapers and television reporters sometimes want to talk to victims and survivors. It may be hard to deal with them, for many reasons. Reporters have the job of telling a story. They may want to do this with photographs, TV scenes and news stories. It is the victim or survivors decision whether to talk to the reporter. Victims and survivors also have the right to say “no” to any or all contact with reporters. Victims and survivors also have the right to not give out their names and addresses.
A victim or other person who agrees to give an interview has several choices. The victim can take the time to talk to someone, such as a victim advocate, the prosecutor, friends or others before giving an interview. Or, the victim can agree only to a written statement that he or she can take time to think about. The victim or survivor can refuse to let the reporter talk to children or other family members in the victim or survivor’s care. The victim can ask that only certain quotes, pictures or information be used in the story, but once the reporter has the information, it is the reporter’s decision whether to use the information.
If the newspapers and television give the story a great deal of publicity, the defendant may ask to have the trial in a different location (a “change of venue”). This is something for the victim to think about before agreeing to say anything in public. Another thing to think about is the fact that if the case goes to trial, the defense attorney and prosecutor can ask the victim or survivor about any statements that the victim or survivor made before the trial and can compare them to statements made at the trial or at other times.
Grieving and Healing
Victims of crimes may feel anger, hatred, self-blame, guilt and confusion. Their sense of trust and order may be shattered. They may have many different feelings and behaviors, and sometimes find it hard to control their emotions. Everyone reacts differently and has a different timetable for healing.
The emotions a victim feels are very personal, and may continue for months or years. Some victims have nightmares or trouble sleeping. Some have periods of uncontrolled sobbing or hysterical laughter, and others have stomachaches, headaches, fatigue or a feeling of going crazy. An individual victim may experience all of these things at different times. Family relationships can change because each family member may deal with these emotions in different ways. Being a crime victim can lead to money problems, family troubles, divorce, substance abuse and other problems. It is important to realize how much the experience has changed each person’s life.
Victims of crime often find that telling their stories helps them heal. Friends, victim advocates and counselors all offer support and will listen. Many other people have had the same experiences and can help victims and their families. Sometimes victims participate in victims’ panels, or contribute their time to groups that are working to provide more justice and healing for all victims of crime.
300 4th Ave SW, Room 100
PO Box 100
Albany, OR 97321
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30-5:00
Phone: (541) 967-3805
Fax: (541) 928-3501