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Letter to Survivors

Dear Friends:

      When someone you love is murdered, your emotions become intensified to a much greater extent than you can imagine. You may feel as though you have been thrown into an emotional tailspin. Shock, grief and heartache, guilt and self-blame, disbelief, denial and anger which seems to know no bounds. You may possibly feel a loss of faith in both God and mankind. You may feel stigmatized and suffer a loneliness you have never known, all the while confused and wondering why this horrible tragedy occurred. Overwhelmed and confused, you may feel that you are losing your sanity. You will probably be depressed, impatient with yourself and others. You sometimes feel as though you have no emotional control.

The grief and heartache ordinarily associated with the death of a loved one are compounded when the loved one is lost through violence. You will learn that the crime is only the first in a seemingly endless series of victimizations. Society tends to focus attention on the criminal at the same time ignoring the victim. This unfortunate fact intensifies the victim's distress, confusion, anger, and pain.

At times you may feel the urge to cry out, "Hey, what about me?" At other times you may ask yourself, "Doesn't anybody care?" You feel victimized by public insensitivety, and you are frequently hurt by the apathy of others. You soon learn that those who have not suffered the trauma of victimization simply cannot understand. They don't realize that the victim is so traumatized that a simple courtesy shown becomes an act of caring from the victim's perspective. When a murder occurs within a family, one might expect it would unite the family more closely. Such is not the case for many times, murder separates a family both physically and emotionally. We each grieve and cope in our own way. Many times it is so difficult for family members to cope with their own grief that they simply do not have the ability to support other members of the family.

Society can be very cruel. Due to their lack of understanding, people may say inappropriate things to you. Implications that somehow the victim's behavior contributed to his/her death is devastating to the survivor. Equally offensive are remarks such as "It's over now, put it behind you; you should be over that by now, it's time to get on with your life.” There are those of the cloth who may tell you it was God's will and urge you to forgive the murderer. Remarks of this type "re-victimize" the survivor by adding the feeling of unworthiness to the existing emotional turmoil.

You have experienced a nightmare, which has altered your life permanently. Your sense of awareness has been intensified; your faith in mankind has been shattered. Those things, which may once have been of major importance to you, may now seem trivial, because you have already suffered the ultimate pain in life. You have learned a kind of sensitivity, which perhaps you never knew before.

Although it may seem doubtful to you right after a murder of a loved one, in time your pain will subside, and you will start to reconstruct your life. You will laugh again and find joy in the unexpected. You will go on with your life. You will cherish good memories of your loved one, for you are a survivor! At Violent Crime Victim Services victim/survivors of homicide are offered monthly support groups, courtroom support/advocacy, crisis intervention, counseling referrals, and information on crime victim’s compensation and victims rights.

One of the most important aspects of our organization centers on mutual understanding. In our peer support group people will find others who share their anger, frustration and grief. People who have been victimized find comfort, understanding, compassion, and coping skills in our monthly meetings We are sorry for your loss, and if we at Violent Crime Victims Services can be of any assistance please contact us at our Tacoma Washington office, (253)383-5254.