Crime survivors and their loved ones are changed forever. So too are the loved ones of those who did not survive. Here are resources for coping with grief and regaining your life.Sharyn Williams was battered so badly that she nearly lost an ear, facial bones were shattered, and her teeth were dislodged from her broken jaw. Metal plates and screws hold her face together. With no medical insurance, her bills are staggering.
The Florida’s Victims' Compensation Fund provides crime survivors with up to $15,000 for medical bills and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) counseling – not nearly enough to put Sharyn’s life back together.
Hurricanes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters wreak havoc and leave grief in their wake. Car wrecks, fires, and freakish mishaps also ruin lives. Illnesses, too, break countless hearts.
Trauma caused by hostile intent rather than by accident or illness adds insult to injury: the memory of another human willfully harming you. Survivors usually suffer some degree of PTSD which may cause haunting memories, emotional blunting, behavioral problems, and suicidal tendencies. You can find help through Resources in the Recap and at Rape Survivors.
One way or another, everyone eventually meets their end, with any luck leaving behind only fond memories for their loved ones. It’s heartbreaking to lose a loved one to accident or illness, but it’s worse when a loved one is lost to a killer’s cruel whim.
The killer's evil amplifies the grief of the surviving loved ones and forever scars their memories of the beloved victim. When people die a violent death, they are remembered for how they died, not how they lived.
I know this firsthand. I was babysitting my two nephews when I got a call and ended up at the Detroit morgue to identify their father, my brother-in-law, murdered two hours earlier.
Despite clear motive and clear eyewitnesses, apathetic and inept police detectives never even arrested his known killers.
He was a totally innocent, fine, hard-working, clean-living, honest, loving, and handsome young man, but my primary memory of him is his devastated face and body – and malicious, terrifying death.
A victim's family and loved ones don't have to suffer alone; there are many experts at helping you cope with grief – and recovering. Start your search with your local police or sheriff's department. Ask them if they can connect you with a local victims services grief counselor.
You can also use a Google, Yahoo, or Bing search. Type in "victim services (add your town or county)" to find one that can connect you with a grief counselor.
There are also thousands of support groups worldwide. Of the
handful listed below, some are located in the US and some in the UK. But
it doesn’t matter where you’re located. Contact any or all of them.
They’ll be happy to help survivors of crime from the other side of the
globe – and also refer you to a group near you for face-to-face
counseling. (You'll find more detailed resources in the Recap of this section.)
• Parents of Murdered Children help parents who’ve lost a child to murder.
• Survivors of Homicide and Witness Justice help the loved ones of murder victims with the legal system and financial aid.
• Michigan Victim Alliance help murder victims' loved ones try to heal.
• Compassionate Friends help murder victim's loved ones help each other.
• Recap of this section (and detailed resources for grief counseling).
• Rape Survivors