Implications and Applications

The use of a brief, early intervention video for seriously injured crime victims appears to have many positive implications, as well as potential for numerous points of application. The video, now converted to a DVD, was specifically designed to help an individual to understand and navigate the criminal justice system, and to increase an individual’s knowledge about common psychological responses to crime and strategies to reduce their negative effects. By using this DVD, victims of crime can immediately begin to participate more fully in the criminal justice system and reduce their levels of psychological distress. Both of these results may have significant positive impact for victims of crime, who frequently report feeling a loss of control over their lives after being a victim of crime. By more fully participating in the criminal justice system, victims may experience an increased sense of control in their lives. Although participation in the criminal justice system does not ensure that the perpetrator will be successfully apprehended and prosecuted, victims may derive satisfaction from the knowledge that they did all they could to assist with the process. Victims’ increased participation with the justice system provides another benefit for society in general that may be self-evident: Victims are essentially witnesses, sometimes the only witnesses, to the crimes in which they are victimized. Without the full participation of victims, the likelihood that perpetrators will be apprehended and subsequently convicted is diminished, thereby leaving the criminal to victimize other citizens. Along slightly different lines, victims’ increased understanding of the crime victim compensation program would logically increase their use of a program that reimburses them for their hospital bills and lost wages. Any assistance with financial matters would be of significant benefit to those victims with insufficient resources.

The use of the DVD as a brief, early intervention to educate victims about common psychological reactions and to provide them with strategies for reducing those effects may have enormous benefits for crime victims by lessening the development of crime-related psychological symptoms and/or disorders. The Resnick and colleagues 1999 rape victim study, which was the model for the present project, gathered data that demonstrated the efficacy of using a brief video as early intervention. Other studies have indicated that approximately one-third of seriously injured crime victims who perceived that their lives were threatened developed posttraumatic stress disorder. Therefore, an intervention that lessens the risk of developing such a debilitating disorder is a tremendous benefit for crime victims and provides a new strategy for professionals to use in their treatment.

This video project was designed for the trauma/surgical inpatient setting of a hospital where victims have acute injuries, but the resulting DVD may have much broader uses. Other potential settings for the DVD and accompanying brochure may be outpatient emergency rooms, other hospital-based clinics, physical therapy facilities, rehabilitation centers, or primary care offices and clinics. The DVD might also be used in nonmedical settings such as the victim advocacy services at police departments or courts, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, or other agencies that offer victim services. Moreover, the DVD’s usefulness does not appear to be limited to acutely injured victims. Positive effects may result from using the DVD with victims who have long since recovered from their injuries; they may benefit from a better understanding of the psychological reactions that they may still be experiencing. Finally, the DVD could also be used as a training tool for law enforcement, victim service providers, and health care professionals who would like to increase their understanding of either the criminal justice system or typical crime victim reactions. The best application of this video/DVD intervention may lie with its use as part of a comprehensive victim service program, but it is also a stand-alone intervention tool which can be distributed directly to victims to ensure that all victims have access to essential information.

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A Multimedia Program To Improve Criminal Justice System Participation and Reduce Distress Among Physically Injured Crime Victims
April 2006