Helpful Information for Crime Victims

Common Victim Reactions
Victims experience a broad range of emotions in the aftermath of a crime. These emotions are normal reactions to a stressful situation or traumatic event. There is not right or wrong way to feel—each victim experiences unique emotions at different points during their recovery process.

Victims may feel shock and numbness immediately after the crime. They may find it difficult to react, think clearly, make decisions, interact with others, or go about their daily lives.

Victims may be filled with denial and disbelief about the incident. The shock and loss of control over life and personal safety may leave victims troubled, confused, and unable or unwilling to face the reality of the crime or deal with its complications.

Anger is a common reaction. Victims often feel angry with the offender, the criminal justice system, and sometimes with the closest to them. They may have thoughts of wanting to “get even” with the offender accompanied by feelings of shame.

Grief and depression frequently follow injury or loss. Victims who are depressed often lose interest in their lives and struggle with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. It is important to seek professional help if these feelings last for an extended period of time.

Guilt is a normal reaction as victims tend to second-guess themselves, saying, “I should have…,” or “If only I had…” Criminal justice system personnel and others who focus on how the victim could have avoided or prevented the crime may add to this sense of guilt.

Fear and distrust can be hard to overcome. Crime is sudden and often life-threatening. Once victims have experienced it, feeling safe again can be difficult. Victims may fear staying at home or leaving home and may find it impossible to trust anyone.

Anxiety may cause victims to avoid certain places, people, and situations that remind them of the crime and their vulnerability. Anxiety can lead to physical problems, such as headaches, changes in appetite, and sleep difficulties.

Frustration, loneliness, and despair may set in when victims are unable to recover even after a significant period of time. Victims may no longer wish to “burden” those closest to them with their troubles, or those individuals may no longer have the time or patience to provide emotional support to the victim.

Suggestions for victims

  • Talk about the crime with a patient and sympathetic listener. Family members, friends, and spiritual leaders can often provide the needed time, support, and assurance to assist you in recovering at your own pace. 
  • Contact a victim advocate who can offer support, as well as information about the criminal justice system, and referrals to other resources. The Office of Justice Programs Website has a searchable victim service provider directory for Minnesota. 
  • Take steps to bolster your sense of safety and security. Work with a victim advocate to develop a safety plan and/or obtain a restraining order against the offender. Install new locks, a security system, or additional lighting. Learn personal safety techniques. Register for release notification if the offender is in jail or prison through the VINE system. 
  • Try to maintain a routine and make daily decisions to regain a sense of control. Avoid isolating yourself from family and friends. Interacting with others can help to speed your recovery. Practice proper self-care by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and regular meals, and getting adequate exercise. 
  • Mental health professionals are available to help you in the recovery process. Call a crisis hotline and/or arrange for one-on-one counseling or group counseling. Some victims may be eligible for financial assistance from the Minnesota Crime Victim Reparations Program to assist with therapy costs. 
  • Join a support group to talk with others who have experienced similar crimes and learn what has helped them heal. A victim advocate will assist you in finding a support group, if one is available. 
  • Recall how you may have overcome difficulties or challenges in the past and try to use some of the same coping strategies in your current situation. 
  • Try writing or keeping a journal about your feelings. Focus on the positive things in your life and make a list of reasons to recover. 

Suggestions for supporting people
  • Encourage victims to express their feelings and provide a safe, nonjudgmental, and comforting environment for doing so. 
  • Validate victim’s feelings and confirm that their confusing or troubling emotions are normal. 
  • Tell them you are sorry about the incident. 
  • Ask how you can help. 
  • Emphasize that they are not to blame for what happened. 
  • Allow victims to respond in their own way and in their own time. 
  • Check in with the victim on a regular basis and pay attention to any issues that require intervention, such as substance abuse or mental health concerns. 
  • Provide mutual support to the victim’s family and friends, who may also be experiencing a wide range of distressing feelings. 
  • Offer to attend criminal justice proceedings with the victim or help with any needed paperwork. 
  • Gather information about other resources the victim can contact for additional support and assistance. 




VINE is a free, anonymous, automated service with two important features: offender custody status information and release notification. Individuals can register with VINE to receive automatic telephone or email notification upon a change in the offender’s custody status such as a transfer, release, escape, or death of an inmate. 

Registration If the offender is in custody, you can register to receive notifications. If registering a phone number, you will be asked to create a four-digit personal identification number (PIN) that will be used to confirm that the call was received. Make sure your PIN is easy to remember. 

Notification Methods 

VINE will notify via automated telephone message, text message, or email. VINE calls automatically when an offender’s custody status changes. Therefore, there is a possibility that you could get a call from VINE in the middle of the night. If you do not answer a notification call, VINE will leave a message and continue calling back until you enter your PIN or until up to 24 hours have passed. 

  • Do not register a phone number that rings to a switchboard. 
  • VINE is confidential. The offender will not know you are registered with     VINE. 
  • You can register multiple phone numbers and email addresses for notifications. 
  • If you forget your PIN, call the VINE number and press zero. The operator will provide contact  information for the Minnesota VINE Program Manager who can reset your pin. 
  • Operators are available 24/7 to assist you. 

It is important to note that once an offender is released from a jail or detention facility and notification is given to the victim, the VINE registration ends. Victims will not be automatically notified if a released offender is later returned to a jail or detention facility, nor will victims be notified of a later release. If an offender is returned to jail, the victim must re-register with VINE. Furthermore, if an offender is transferred to another jail, notification is given to the victim and the VINE registration ends. The victim will need to re-register by calling VINE at 877-664-8463 or by visiting the VINE website

United Way 211

The 24-hour, toll-free referral hotline can be reached by calling 211 or 800-543-7709 from anywhere in Minnesota.

Victim Service Provider Directory

For a listing of Minnesota victim service providers see the OJP Website.

Office of Justice Programs

The Crime Victims Justice Unit investigates complaints regarding violations of victims’ rights, and can provide referrals to other victim assistance programs in your area.
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 2300 St. Paul, MN 55101-1515
Phone: 651-201-7310

Mothers Against Drunk Driving State Office

155 S Wabasha St. #104 St. Paul, MN 55107
Phone: 651-523-0802

The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women

60 East Plato Blvd., Suite 130 St. Paul, MN 55107
Phone: 651-646-6177

The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault

161 St. Anthony Ave. #1001 St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: 651-334-9449

Parents of Murdered Children

P.O. Box 516 Circle Pines, MN 55014
Phone: 651-484-0336

Someplace Safe

106 S Union Ave Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: 218-739-2853

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