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The lives of crime victims and family and friends of homicide victims are abruptly shattered by perpetrators. Any single crime can result in physical injury, the loss of a loved one, psychological trauma and the loss of property. Regardless of the type of crime or its degree of impact, one of the biggest devistating feelings all victims experience is a loss of the sense of personal control over their lives.

If you are a victim or a witness to a crime, there are statutes and programs designed to provide services and explain your rights while you are involved with the criminal justice system. There are also options and alternatives in the private and non-profit social service sectors that can assist you in a variety of ways.

Some of these protect your rights as a victim, others help you recover the costs of dealing with what happened, and still others can provide additional financial punishments against abusers or those who contributed to the commission of the crime.

Being a victim of a crime can be a very difficult experience. Each person deals with being a victim in his or her own way. If a person has been victimized, he or she may feel anger, guilt, shame, insecurity, fear, powerlessness, and depression. Victims do not have to live with all of these emotions alone. Many people can help them understand this experience and support them as they work through it.

This section was written to help crime victims. The more you know about the criminal justice system, the more comfortable you will feel when events happen. You also can start to influence those events. While it won't solve all problems or answer all questions, it will answer many of them, and show you how to get help with the rest.

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Last Updated: May 5, 2011