If I experience a violent crime, what’s the first thing I should do?

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According to Witness Justice, first, make sure to address any physical injuries and get to a safe place. Then phone 911 (or ask someone else to do it) and, while you’re waiting for the police to arrive, try to write down as many details of the crime and your attacker as possible — especially details of his or her physical characteristics and face, clothing, voice, and any unique physical markings or tattoos. Although this can be upsetting, it is during the time immediately following the incident that you will most likely be able to recall the greatest number of details with the greatest degree of clarity. These details will assist you when providing a statement to the police and could be essential in apprehending and successfully prosecuting your assailant.  When the police arrive, they will investigate, collect evidence, and obtain your statement. If the police are meeting you at the scene of the crime, try not to touch or move anything, because doing so may compromise the integrity of the crime scene. When giving your statement, consider having a family member or friend present – not only for emotional support, but also to help validate or corroborate your statement. Following a violent experience, your mind may be racing and your emotions running high, and having someone you trust there with you can help.

The First 24 Hours following a violent encounter can be extremely difficult. You are at the initial stage of what may be a life-altering experience that can affect you in fundamental and unforeseen ways. You are probably, and understandably, overwhelmed. Try to remember that it can take a while for the full extent of the physical and emotional impacts to set in, so consider getting support mechanisms in place (friends, family, counselors, doctors, etc.) as soon as possible. Try to be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time you need to work through the healing process. It is not an easy road to travel, but there is hope, help, and healing ahead.

Join the fight to prevent crime in our communities by joining The Pinellas County Urban League’s Crime Prevention Task Force.  For more information, call Michael Adekunle at (727) 327-2081 extension 119, or inquire by e-mail to madekunle@pcul.org.

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