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Researchers wanting to change support available for victims of traumatic crime

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Posted October 7, 2015

Psychologists at the University working with the national charity Escaping Victimhood are conducting a new study aimed at improving the support available for the families and relatives of victims of traumatic crime.

Victims of traumatic crime, particularly those who lose a loved one in traumatic circumstances, often struggle to move forward even after many years.

Our researchers are conducting a study of individuals that have lost loved ones to violent and traumatic crimes, particularly murder and manslaughter, and is looking for participants aged 18 or older and from all parts of the UK. The research team is studying the short and long-term effects of being bereaved in such traumatic circumstances.

Filipa Alves-Costa, working on the project said: “In many respects for the criminal justice system, the successful prosecution of the perpetrator of a crime, ultimately marks closure. Yet we know for the victims of a crime and their families and relatives, this is often just the start of the grieving process.

“Whereas there has been a focus on this issue in the United States, very little emphasis has been placed on what happens to the families and relatives of victims after the criminal justice system closes a case in the UK. We want to change that.”

The Bath team are working together with Escaping Victimhood, a national charity which has developed a holistic approach to helping those bereaved by murder or manslaughter.

The charity was founded over 10 years ago in 2004 by criminal justice practitioners increasingly aware that the justice system in the UK was often not fully meeting the needs of victims. Participants in the Bath study may later have the chance to take part in one of the unique groups run by Escaping Victimhood, offering them to the chance to take part in sessions including the effects of trauma and personal change tools, which can help to put the traumatic event in the context of their whole lives – past and future – and assist them in moving forwards.

This will feed into new work to improve recommendations and practice for members of the criminal justice system and as well as outside support services and agencies.

According to The Global Study on Homicide, close to half a million people were killed by homicide across the world in 2012. According to the latest figures for the UK, 551 homicides were reported for 2012/13.

Escaping Victimhood Chief Executive, Debra Clothier, added: “Professionals working to support victims of crime know that, for many people, a traumatic event such as the murder of a close relative can have repercussions far beyond the immediate impact.

“Such an event can often become a defining moment in a victim’s life, with consequences impacting on every aspect of day to day living, such as the ability to work, physical and mental health, relationships with family members and so on.  The on-going consequences of victimhood can create a ripple effect, with one crime affecting many people.”

To find out more about the study and what’s involved, or to volunteer (all information collected will be confidential and anonymous) to take part contact Filipa Alves-Costa at the University of Bath via [email protected]

For more on the charity Escaping Victimhood see https://www.escapingvictimhood.com/.

Source: University of Bath

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