Why is it important to refer a victim of crime to further support?

A person of any age, nationality or social position can become a victim of crime. Victims of crime are often left with psychological, social, physical and financial consequences. For some people, an experience of crime may only cause some concern, for others it can be a very tragic experience that leads to a traumatic crisis. The person's own history, life situation, energy resources and method of dealing with the events influence the reaction. Strong emotions are also brought on by the idea of what could have happened.

On the outside, the victim may seem calm and peaceful, although it is chaotic under the surface. The initial shock often protects people from difficult emotions and the behaviour may be very rational and the victim may seem to be coping. It is hard for anyone on the outside to recognise the need for help, and the victim may not realise it either. After the crime has happened, he/she may not be able to foresee, when and what kind of help he/she might need. He/she cannot know what the future psychological reactions will be like and he/she cannot know what kind of questions might be encountered during the criminal procedure.

According to studies, many victims of crime, their loved ones and the witness of a criminal case may benefit from professional help that is outside their own social network. They often need support and detailed answers for various questions. In most cases, they do not know what they should even know and what kind of help could be beneficial for them. The difficult legal jargon is rarely understandable to people who are not familiar with it. Misunderstandings and ignorance may lead to significant loss of rights. During a crisis, the victim’s ability to attain information is not at its best. He/she must however be able to handle practical matters on time and find answers to questions relating to the criminal procedure.

The duty of the helper is to patiently support the victim to talk and progress in his/her coping process. It is extremely important to refer the victim to such help, where he/she can go through these emotions. Due to the traumatic experience, the victim’s ability to think and act rationally may weaken, in which case understanding any information provided may prove more difficult.
Procedures may be forgotten or they are remembered wrong. Behaviour may also not always be in their own interest. For example, a victim of sexual violence may take a shower immediately, even though he/she has heard that washing should be avoided before seeing a doctor.

In terms of the victim coping, it is important that authorities and other helpers who meet him/her have enough knowledge and understanding of the consequences and effects involved with becoming a victim of crime. The helper's thoughts on the seriousness of the crime and the well-being of the victim may not influence offering help. The victim should always be provided further help.

By referring your customer to Victim Support Finland (RIKU), you can help him/her obtain the necessary help and answers. At RIKU, we are familiar with the consequences caused by the criminal procedure and the experience of crime. We can be reached by phone, online or at face-to-face meetings. We offer discussion help, we refer to further support and we explain what the criminal procedure involves. If necessary, we help with restraining order and compensation claim matters, as well as in acquiring an attorney and we calculate the incurring costs. If necessary, we can also arrange a support person for your customer for the different stages of the handling of the criminal case.

Frequently asked questions at RIKU:

How and where do I report a crime?
What is preliminary investigation / consideration of charges / mediation?
When can punishment be demanded?
What significance does a demand for punishment have?
How is compensation claimed?
What happens after police questioning?
How is a restraining order applied for?
Who pays for the legal costs?
What is an attorney needed for?
Where can I find an attorney?
What happens in court?
How do I deal with the media?
Where can I get practical advice?
Who can provide me emotional support?

Excluding phone charges, the service is free of charge for customers. The service is mainly based on voluntary work, which is always professionally managed. Our volunteers have been selected and trained for their duties. An important additional resource is the close collaboration with authorities, such as the police, and other bodies encountering victims of crime.