Many crime victims experience physical injuries, emotional trauma, adverse changes in their relationships and challenges maintaining productive employment.
Crime poses a huge cost to society, both financially and in less tangible terms. Tragically, the direct victims of criminal activity often bear a substantial portion of this cost. People who have experienced physical attacks, sexual violence or other crimes are often at risk for many lingering health problems and other setbacks. Often, these issues have far-reaching impacts and persist long after the crime in question was committed.
Each year, thousands of survivors of violent crimes are left with serious and even life-changing injuries. The Office for Victims of Crime states that annually, violent crime is the cause of at least 2.2 million reported injuries. Collectively, the victims of these offenses require over 700,000 days of hospitalization. With unreported injuries factored in, the physical toll of crime may be even greater.
Victims of crime may also be at risk for experiencing adverse changes in mental health, especially if the crime was traumatic or life threatening. The OVC reports that it's not uncommon for victims of violent crimes to develop the following debilitating emotional disorders or behaviors:
- Fear and anxiety
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Substance abuse
- Avoidance behaviors
Tragically, some victims may live with these conditions indefinitely. Illustrating this issue, one study found that about one-third of rape victims who develop PTSD never achieve remission of their symptoms, even after several years have elapsed.
As a result of both physical and psychological injuries, crime victims may struggle to be productive at work or maintain employment, according to a literature review published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. One study found a 27 percent drop in employment among victims who lost loved ones to violent crime. Another study determined that victims of sexual assault or rape required more than half a year to resume normal functioning at work. Sadly, due to these issues, victims often face loss of immediate income as well as long-term earning potential.
Victims of crime also may experience intimacy and trust issues, which can lead to negative changes in their personal relationships. As an example, according to the same literature review, victims of sexual assault are less likely than their peers to experience regular contact with loved ones or receive adequate emotional support from them. The dissolution of intimate relationships is also a common outcome for these victims.
In light of the many long-term challenges that victims of crime often face, it is important for these individuals to be aware of their legal rights. When a violent crime occurs due to the negligence of another party, such as a property manager or a business owner, victims may be able to seek recompense for their various damages and losses. An attorney with experience representing crime victims may be able to offer further advice regarding options for pursuing recourse.