Emotional Support Strategies
The traditional victim service model used by victim advocates will drive the type of assistance (e.g., information, support, referrals) provided in the Safe Haven. The model allows victims to have control of their environment and experience while attending a trial. Advocates, interfaith-based providers, and mental health professionals who are experienced with crisis response and related behaviors should prepare victims for upcoming trial events and their emotional impact.
Mental health strategies used at a Safe Haven should accommodate the different ways crime victims cope with the trauma associated with participation in the judicial process.7 Adaptation of a "defusing" (informal group discussion)8 may be a beneficial stress management tool.
Traditional social service case management or mental health evaluation is not recommended for victims during a trial because of its temporary nature. Services should be short term, with referrals for long-term care when necessary. It is helpful, and potentially critical, that victims' mental health issues be disclosed to Safe Haven service providers prior to the trial. Such information may affect the ability of volunteers to provide appropriate mental health services and anticipate potentially life-threatening situations.
In communities in which a significant number of the victims reside, the mental health professionals, victim service providers, and faith-based professionals may be overwhelmed with the unanticipated responsibilities and workload associated with the mass violence and terrorism affecting their community. This may generate a need to look outside the immediate community for service providers who are willing to assist the coalition. In addition, it is advisable that Safe Haven facility staff receive signed release forms from victims that will allow mental health providers or victim/witness staff to communicate specific mental health or medical issues that might affect services during the trial.