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How To Get Help After a Victimization

By: the National Organization for Victim Assistance

There are some things a person can do to try to prevent a crime from happening. Everyone should learn personal habits and techniques they can use to help avoid becoming a victim. No safety plan or self-defense course will guarantee to keep a person safe. However, when people are more aware of safety, they will be more cautious and may feel more confident that they will know what to do if an emergency occurs.

Usually, a local law enforcement agency can provide information on where to obtain crime prevention information and safety training. The National Council on Crime Prevention can also provide valuable information on crime prevention. They can be contacted at 1700 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006, 202-466-6272.

Another excellent resource on safety and crime prevention is the Personal Safety Awareness Center, c/o Austin Rape Crisis Center, 1824 East Oltorf, Austin, TX 78741, 512-445-5776 x 210, 512-440-7363 TDD.

Keep in mind that most crime prevention programs are focused on preventing crimes committed by strangers. People are victimized more often by people who are known to them, so any program or plan should be reviewed and modified with this fact in mind.

A safety plan should be individualized to meet the unique needs of each person, and it should be developed with an expert on safety and crime prevention.

The following ideas may be useful starting points:

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about safety, crime or violence with a person you trust
  • Acknowledge that victimization is a painful and frightening experience
  • Don’t "buy into" your own or anyone else’s denial that there is no danger or that it won’t happen to you
  • Get some help to make critical decisions about safety planning
  • Practice your safety plan on a regular basis, as if it were a "fire drill." Think of some "what if" situations, and try to figure out how you would respond in a variety of environments (for example, at home, at work, at school, on the transportation system)
  • Plan for protecting yourself from the people most likely to victimize you, including, but not limited to, acquaintances, strangers, peers and family members
  • Have important phone numbers and addresses memorized or written down in a safe place that can be accessed easily
  • Know about victim rights and services (explained later), so that you will know what to do if a crime does occur, in spite of all safety precautions
  • Let only trusted friends know about your safety plan