A Safer Naper
February - Crime Victims' Rights & Resources
When you or someone you love is the victim of a crime, you may experience a wide array of intense and ever-changing emotions. You may be shocked, in disbelief or angry with the perpetrator. You may be terrified; terrified of sharing this information with other people and terrified that something like this could happen again. You may not feel safe. You may feel as if the challenges of navigating life after victimization are insurmountable and you will never heal. You may feel completely numb and devoid of emotions. If the perpetrator was someone you knew, you may be confused as to how you can have such anger or confusion towards this person’s actions but still also have feelings of love and support for this person.
It is important to keep in mind that;
- Your feeling are normal. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to respond to a traumatic event. Each person will process these events in their own way, at their own pace. Your feelings are valid and they deserve to be respected.
- Healing is not always linear and there is no “playbook” showing what actions you should or shouldn’t take as you move toward healing and empowerment following a victimization.
- There are resources available and people that can and want to help. There are numerous local, county, state and federal programs and supports for crime victims. Processing a trauma is challenging and doing so alone can make it even more difficult and overwhelming.
- You have rights as a victim of crime. These rights may change depending on a myriad of factors, such as what type of victimization you experienced or when you were victimized, but it’s important to know that you have rights.
Resources for Parents
Speaking to children about violent crimes, whether preemptively or in response to a crime, can be a challenging task. Luckily, there are many resources to assist. While it is natural to avoid these conversations due to discomfort, it is imperative that children feel empowered to keep themselves safe and understand what to do if something bad happens to them.
These books and other resources contained in this document may serve as helpful guides to broaching these difficult topics with children. Many of these books also contain “notes to parents” that assist in debriefing the book and provide tips for integrating the book’s lessons into your child’s daily life.
Despite sharing important preventative information with your children, there is a chance your child might be the victim of a crime. While this can be emotionally devastating, it is important that if your child discloses they were the victim of a crime, you:
- Remain calm. Your child will be very sensitive to reactions of anger, disgust or sadness.
- Express that you believe them and you are happy that they told you about what happened. This is critical to the child’s healing over time.
- Call the police immediately. It is important that the police are notified to ensure the child is safe.
- Do not ask direct questions or inquire for details about what occurred as this may revictimize the child and evoke emotional responses that may negatively affect the quality and validity of the information shared. There are professionals specifically trained to interview children in a style that is appropriate to the crime suspected.
- Support the child’s feelings; let them know that their feelings are normal and you are there to help. Let your child know what happened was not their fault.
- Ask the child what you can do to make them feel safe, emotionally and physically. Let them know what you plan to do next and why it’s important that you take these steps to protect them.
- Do not confront the alleged perpetrator. While it is understandable that you would want to speak with them, this could compromise a legal case and put you in danger.
Along with these tips, the following information provided by the Will County Children’s Center may also prove helpful in navigating child victimization.
Additionally, the following websites, among many others, offer a tremendous amount of valuable information on childhood victimization and trauma.
Childhood Sexual Abuse
- Darkness to Light
- The National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Domestic Abuse or Physical Violence
- Childhood Domestic Violence Association
- The National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network (Domestic Violence)
- The National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network (Physical Abuse)
Notable Laws and Protections for Victims of Crime
Crime victims have rights. Navigating the legal system or digesting complicated legal language can leave many survivors feeling frustrated, dejected and dissatisfied. Here are some of the most common laws pertaining to victims of crime along with a brief description of how these laws may offer assistance.
PLEASE NOTE: This is not meant to be a comprehensive legal analysis but rather a quick look at the most notable remedies provided in Illinois State law. These are presented in general terms, but please know that there are always additional considerations/requirements when working within these remedies. It should also be noted that other crimes not listed here may be afforded protections under one of the broader highlighted crimes (e.g., a victim of trafficking would be protected under many of the sexual assault laws provided here).
Sexual Assault Law
- Ensures that any services provided in a hospital emergency room following a sexual assault are provided free of charge to the survivor.
- Provides a survivor a period of 10 years to decide whether or not to release forensic evidence for testing or 10 years from the date the survivor turns 18, whichever is longer.
- Prevents any forensic evidence collected following a sexual assault from being used to prosecute a victim for use of alcohol, cannabis or a controlled substance.
- Requires that every “treatment” hospital for sexual assault victims enter into a “memorandum of understanding” with a rape crisis center; provides that a survivor has a right to meet with a sexual assault advocate from a crisis center who can talk them through their options and choices and provide emotional support. This communication is protected by absolute privilege and will remain confidential.
- Requires that upon first contact with law enforcement (whether a full report is made or not), a survivor is to be provided information regarding the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over their case, local hospitals, the local rape crisis center and information on obtaining protective orders.
- Requires that law enforcement arrange or provide transportation for a victim of sexual assault to a local area emergency room or courthouse, if seeking a protective order.
- Provides college students with access to specially-trained “confidential advisors” who do not serve as “responsible employees” under Title XI. These confidential advisors provide specific and emergency ongoing support to a victim and can help guide them through reporting both internally to campus authorities as well as to local law enforcement.
- Requires that students be afforded an opportunity to report sexual assault electronically, anonymously or confidentially.
- Allows a survivor to request interim protective measures, such as changes to class schedules and living arrangements.
Domestic Violence Law
- Provides that, with exceptions and upon request by a petitioner for an Order of Protection, the court may order a wireless telephone service provider to transfer to the petitioner the right to continue to use a telephone number(s) and the financial responsibility associated with the number(s).
General Crime Victim Law
- Requires that a victim be notified, in a timely fashion, of the time, date and location of all court proceedings pertaining to their criminal case.
- Provides the victim the right to be present at a trial and all other court proceedings on the same basis as the accused, unless the victim is to testify and the court determines that the victim’s testimony would be materially affected if the victim hears other testimony at the trial.
- Allows a victim to choose a “support person” to be present during all criminal proceedings so long as they provide the support person’s name to the prosecutor at least 60 days before trial.
- Provides eligible victims of violent crimes with up to $27,000 in financial assistance for certain out of pocket expenses resulting from the crime.
- Extends compensation to spouses and/or parents of victims of violent crimes as well as to individuals to witness violent crimes or intervene on behalf of victims in violent crimes.
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Allows victims of domestic or sexual violence to leave their rental housing early, prior to the end of their lease, in order to protect their physical safety and emotional wellbeing. In certain circumstances, the victim can also request that locks be changed to keep an abuser out of their home.
- Informational Brochure
- Provides an employee who is the victim of domestic or sexual violence, or who has a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per any 12-month period to address issues arising from the violence.
- Requires than an employer keep all information pertaining to the usage of VESSA private and confidential.
- Allows victims and the public the ability to register for e-mail, text or phone call notifications pertaining to vital information about criminal cases, custody status and service of protective orders.
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (VTVPA) of 2000
- Creation of “U Visas” intended for victims of serious crimes to seek legal status in the U.S. for up to four years (which may be extended depending on “exceptional circumstances”) provided they have worked with law enforcement to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice.
- Creation of “T Visas” intended for victims of human trafficking to seek legal status in the U.S. for up to three years; at the conclusion of three years, the victim can seek permanent resident status. To apply for a T Visa, the victim must currently be in the U.S. due to human trafficking.
There are three types of civil protective orders offered to victims of crime; Stalking No Contact Orders, Civil No Contact Orders and Orders of Protection. While each order is intended address different situations, all three orders seek to protect victims from further abuse. It should be noted that no police report is required to seek a protective order in civil court.
- Prevents someone from stalking someone else. The stalking (unwanted contact, physical proximity, monitoring, etc) must have occurred on more than one occasion to be considered stalking.
- The petitioner (victim) and the respondent (stalker) should have no current or former relationship in order for a Stalking No Contact Order to be considered.
- Prevents victims of sexual abuse from being further harassed or abused by their perpetrators.
- The petitioner (victim) and the respondent (abuser) should have no current or former relationship in order for a Civil No Contact Order to be considered.
Order of Protection (Contained within the IL Domestic Violence Act of 1986)
- Prevents victims of abuse (not just physical abuse) from further abuse by their perpetrators.
- The petitioner (abused party) and the respondent (abuser) previously or currently, are in a romantic relationship, share a common dwelling or are members of the same family.
- Provides not only protection pertaining to physical proximity and contact but also addresses other issues such as possession of a common dwelling, care of minor children and exchange and transfer of personal property, among others.
Additional Protective Orders Resources