Escaping Victimhood: promotional feature

Are you working with people who have suffered bereavement as a result of murder or manslaughter or are suffering trauma as a result of a serious crime?

Hopefully GP’s don’t come across this too often but when they do, it’s important that those patients receive the most appropriate intervention.

Symptoms

Many people can suffer symptoms of PTSD and other disorders, such as depression which can impact on their and, their family’s daily lives.

Why is it different?

This type of bereavement differs from other bereavements because of the unexpected violence associated with the death, and the involvement of the criminal justice system, and sometimes the media, which often adds additional trauma.

Criminal justice agencies often stress that securing a successful prosecution will afford the survivors ‘closure’ (this is not a word that Escaping Victimhood (EV) likes to use). It does not enable victims to be free of the emotional life sentence that can result from a sudden violent attack or traumatic bereavement. During the court process survivors may receive offers of help but, once a conviction is secured (or if no conviction is possible because the culprit is unknown or has died or the trauma results from a natural disaster), the victims find themselves isolated and unsupported and struggling to find ways of regaining control of their lives. 

The realisation by some victim’s families that they do not feel better or feel that ‘justice’ for their loved one has not been served, and that their needs have not been met, can lead to very negative outcomes for them, their families and the wider community.  A previous Victims Commissioner, found that1

  • The vast majority (80%+) had suffered trauma-related symptoms;
  • Three-quarters suffered depression;
  • One-in-five became addicted to alcohol;
  • 100% said that their health was affected in some way, and eight-out-of- ten (83%) said their physical health was affected;
  • Nearly six-in-ten (59%) found it difficult to manage their finances following the bereavement;
  • One-in-four stopped working permanently;
  • One-in-four had to move home;
  • Three quarters said it affected their other relationships;
  • 44% who experienced relationship problems with a spouse said it led to divorce or separation;
  • 59% had difficulty managing their finances;
  • A quarter (23%) gained sudden responsibility for children as a result of the killing; and
  • The average cost of the homicide to each family was £37,000, ranging from probate, to funerals to travel to court, to cleaning up the crime scene. The majority got no help with these costs and some were forced into debt.

Because of this difference and the isolation this causes for patients, it is important that any intervention is designed specifically for this group, in addition to, or instead of other treatments.

Scale of problem

There were 636 deaths2 recorded as homicides in England and Wales for the period between April 2010 and March 2011. The numbers vary from year to year, but there has been a downward trend over the last 10 years. In relation to other crime types, this is thankfully, a low number , but what this means is that, when you look at localities the numbers affected are even lower and this can lead to a lack of awareness amongst service providers and communities and in turn can result in, further isolation.

What does Recovery look like, is it even possible?

‘Moving on means moving away from the loved one’,  ‘Letting the anger go feels like betrayal and what would be left behind but the loss?’,  ‘I feel stuck’, ‘I feel like I have gone mad’. These are some of the responses from some people in this situation.

The rationale of Escaping Victimhood is that individuals were functional and balanced before the incident, but as a result of the trauma their equilibrium has been disturbed. Therefore with appropriate responses to their loss, grief and post-traumatic reactions they may be able to begin to recover and grow through natural urge toward the self-actualising tendency. Traumatic loss provokes a loss of control over wellbeing and routine, loss of safety, loss of belonging within one’s family unit and relationships, loss of self- esteem, status and a real and powerful sense of being locked into the past at the point of trauma, unable to escape the horrific reality of what has occurred. EV is keen to seek recovery and a more positive future, whatever that might look like for the individual.

Model of Recovery

EV, a national charity, offers residential programmes for adults, to address the effects of the trauma and loss and,  provide the skills for rebuilding shattered lives. Our core programme is for those bereaved as a result of murder or manslaughter and we hope to pilot programmes for those primary victims of other serious offences, later this year. 

We are an approved provider for the National Homicide Service and our staff are all professional experts in their field.

References

[1] ‘Review into the Needs of Families Bereaved by Homicide’. (July 2011) Louise Casey CB.

[2] Crimes detected in England and Wales 2012/13 ISSN 1759 7005 ISBN 978-1-78246-167-(8 July 2013)www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/224037/hosb0213.pdf
 

Charity No. 1121780 Company No. 6356205

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