A crime victim and those close to a victim will have many questions and concerns. Some crimes can change people's lives forever and have devastating and tragic consequences. Other crimes may have less serious consequences, but can still have a significant impact on the victim and those close to them.
You can be a victim of crime even if the incident is never reported to the police, or if the incident is reported but no one is ever charged or convicted of the crime. However, to participate in most government programs and services for victims, you must report the crime to the police.
If a victim cannot act for themselves, a family member will usually have the right to have input, be informed and apply for compensation. This could happen, for example, when the victim is a child or seriously injured. This will also be the case where the victim is deceased.
Even when a victim can act for themselves, those close to the victim can be considered secondary victims. When someone close to you is harmed, it can affect not just their life but your life as well.
Perhaps the only real answer to the question of "why me" is that there is no answer. When you are a victim of a crime you are harmed by someone else's actions, not because of something you did or did not do. Nevertheless, feelings of guilt and shame are common reactions to having been a victim. Victims may be especially vulnerable to feeling that they are to blame if they were victimized while engaging in risky activity. Children who are victimized while breaking a rule may worry that they are to blame. Many crimes are random. All victims need to know that it is not their fault - they are victims.
Being the victim of a crime can have a wide range of consequences. A crime can result in physical injuries, including death. A victim may need to see a doctor and may require immediate and sometimes ongoing treatment. A victim may need bed rest. A victim may not be able to carry out day-to-day activities for days, weeks, months or even longer. Some victims may never completely recover from their injuries.
While physical injury may be an obvious consequence of being a crime victim, many victims will also have emotional injuries that can be equally devastating. A victim may feel angry, confused or fearful and may no longer feel safe doing the things that they have always done.
A crime can also result in financial losses for victims. Property may be damaged, lost or stolen. Time off work may be needed to recover from injuries. Even if there are no injuries, time off may still be needed to replace items and do things like make insurance claims or testify in court. A Department of Justice Canada report estimates that the cost of pain and suffering to victims of crime is close to 36 billion dollars annually.
PLEA can provide you with information to help you understand many legal matters you, a family member or friend may be facing.