April 28, 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following feature article on the Department of Public Safety's Victim Services Program is released in conjunction with National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, April 26 - May 2.
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Being the victim of a crime (violent or otherwise) can be traumatic and challenging.
It is common in the subsequent weeks and months for victims to be overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, fear, and loneliness. These can be difficult emotions to manage alone, and there is the additional fear of having to navigate the criminal justice system.
The good news is that victims need not suffer and confront these obstacles alone. The Department of Public Safety's Victim Services Program offers assistance in a variety of different ways.
For instance, trauma and short-term counselling may be available to victims of crime based on individual needs. Counselling may assist victims in dealing with the emotional effects of being victimized, thus helping them to move forward.
In addition, Victim Services provides court support and court preparation to assist victims who are required to testify in court.
Victim Services can explain what happens in court, the roles and responsibilities of various people involved in the court process and help victims understand what is expected of them when they testify.
Participation in the criminal justice process can be traumatic or frightening for any victim of crime. This is especially true for children and other vulnerable persons. Additional protections have been put in place for vulnerable victims; these include testimonial aids such as the use of closed-circuit television and the installation of a screen shielding the victim from the view of the accused.
Victim Services can also arrange tours of the courtroom and help identify any special needs that victims may have. Victim Services can also provide help in completing a victim impact statement after a finding of guilt has been determined by the court.
Victim Services provides several follow-up services for victims after the court process, including providing information on sentencing.
Victim Services provides information regarding notification of the offender's release from incarceration, and on accused found not criminally responsible.
Victim Services has a crime compensation program for victims of violent crimes who have suffered personal loss or injury. Financial benefits may be available to assist with expenses as a direct result of the crime, not covered by other means.
Victims of crime should know that they are not alone. The Department of Public Safety's Victim Services staff are accessible in all regions of New Brunswick, and they can provide more information on the programs and services mentioned in this article. Contact information is available online.
As New Brunswickers work together to build a safer province, victims of crime should know that they will be supported.