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If one is a victim of violence, he or she may be confused or embarrassed by what has occurred. A victim of violence often loses the opportunity for the police to make an arrest by immediately changing a crime scene. There are several simple guidelines to bear in mind that can help one through the difficult aftermath of a violent experience.
Regardless of the type of violence, the first thing one should do after a violent incident has occurred is to call the police. If one has been mugged on the street, or carjacked, find the nearest public location and ask someone to call 911. If one is at home, simply call, if it is safe to do so.
When possible, report one’s full name and location. If one is confused, ask someone else in the home or public place to provide this information. A victim of violence may feel fear of other people because of what has just occurred. In general, however, most people are more than willing to help someone who has just been hurt. So relying on others can help you get to the authorities or to a hospital as needed.
It is important for a victim of violence to stay near a crime scene. If one is in one’s home, one should stay there. If one is not at home, and there is no danger in staying at the location of the crime, one should remain nearby. This will allow forensic investigators to identify the scene of the crime and collect potential evidence against a suspect.
It is especially important when possible to remain in the same clothing. This can be very hard for a victim of violence who has been sexually assaulted. Most rape victims immediately want to shower and get rid of any clothing they were wearing. However, though the process of being examined after a rape is emotionally difficult, a doctor performing such an examination can derive considerably more information from the victim’s body than elsewhere. Once a physical examination has ended, the victim of violence like rape is usually given the opportunity to shower, and to change clothing, since clothes will often be held as evidence.
Often a victim of violence may feel reluctance in reporting an incident. This is particularly the case when one has been abused by a spouse, a family member, or has been the victim of date rape. Often a victim of violence does not report a crime because the attacker may have threatened him or her. Generally, an attacker cannot make good on any threats. Though this is a time of great fear and shock, the victim of violence tends to fare better psychologically if he or she can see an attacker arrested.
For children or teens that are the victim of violence in the home, it is probably best to get to a safe place before reporting an abuser who is a family member. The best place to do this is at a school or hospital. However, one can also report violence in the home to a member of the clergy or a counselor. A violent incident should be reported as soon as possible, from a safe place. One might also consider getting to a friend or trusted family member’s house and calling the police.
For a spouse who is a victim of violence, personal safety is one’s first concern. Do not report a violent incident where one can be overheard. As well, do not report the incident to the family of the violent spouse. Get to a friend, neighbor or one’s own family prior to making a report. As well, if possible take children at risk with one.
A victim of violence has the best chance at justice in a legal sense by reporting to the police as soon as possible, and doing as little as possible to alter clothing or the scene of a crime. One’s own body is in a sense, a crime scene, until doctors can make an examination and record findings.
This information gathering can be very difficult to go through when one has just suffered violence. If possible, ask for friends or trusted family members to be called to be present and offer support. As well, know that one can ask for breaks during a long physical examination. Enduring an exam, though difficult, can help ensure that one is no longer a victim of violence, but instead a strong and empowered voice for justice.