Survivors of Homicide Victims
The violent, unexpected death of someone we love is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can face. Survivors often find that the grief of losing a loved one complicated by many factors, including the trauma or stigma of the crime and interaction with the criminal justice system. They may feel as though others do not understand what they are experiencing and that they are alone.
There is no right or wrong way to feel when someone close to you is murdered. You may feel overcome with disbelief, anger, and sadness or you may feel emotionally numb and disconnected from your life and the people around you. It is normal for people to experience intense feelings in the days, weeks, or years following a homicide.
Survivors will often develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other problems from this traumatic experience. This can lead to extreme anxiety, fear, and sadness or nightmares and constant intrusive thoughts long after the event. The investigation and criminal justice process following a homicide can contribute to feelings of retraumatization long after the event. Interactions with the media and the ways the victim is portrayed can also contribute to feelings of distress.
Survivors can feel that they are forever changed by the homicide. However, like many other survivors, you may discover resources and resilience that you never knew you had that enable you to cope successfully in the aftermath of a tragic personal loss. Additional support and counseling can often be very helpful in finding these resources and resiliency.
You may want to seek the support and understanding of others who have gone through similar experiences. Many survivors report that a homicide support group, or just talking one-on-one with a person who has had a loved one murdered, helps them in their grieving process. This can help you realize that you are not alone and that others have experienced similar tragedies and survived.
It may be helpful to speak one-on-one with a therapist who understands the trauma and complicated bereavement that follows a homicide. Many people benefit from individual counseling. While at times you may feel very isolated as you try to cope on your own, it is important to know that many types of assistance are available to you. You are not alone.
I offer individual counseling and personally understand the impact this type of experience can have on every aspect of a person's life. Please feel free to contact me if you would like help. Below is also a list of national resources that may be able to help guide you to any of type of assistance you may need.
Directory of Crime Victim Services
Office for Victims of Crime
Office of Justice Programs
U.S. Department of Justice
National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children
1-888-818-POMC or 1-888-818-7662
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
1-800-GET-MADD or 1-800-438-6233
National Center for Victims of Crime
The Compassionate Friends
Concerns of Police Survivors