AZ DPS

Crime Victims Services - Coping as a Victim

Information and trauma recovery tips can be found at the following websites:

 


"Helping Victims Rebuild Their Lives"

National Center for Victims of Crime




National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc.

For the Family and Friends of those who have died by violence

Parents of Murdered Children





National Organization for Victim Assistance





The Arizona Attorney General Website


TRAUMA RECOVERY TIPS
From America’s Leading Crime Victim Assistance Organizations

No American will go untouched - whether directly or indirectly -- by the devastating terrorist attacks that took place recently and which swept the hearts and minds of citizens across the nation. Many people will experience a variety of reactions to the trauma and the unforgettable images from the tragedy, including feeling numb, angry, sleepless and helpless. The following tips may help you cope with the emotions and grief.·

Talk. Unspeakable trauma becomes more manageable when it is verbalized. Try to find words to describe your reaction and share them with someone you trust. If you can’t talk with someone, write in a journal or diary.·

Recognize that thinking ability may be compromised. It is natural that in these circumstances, one’s ability to concentrate is limited. Employers must recognize this and accommodate.·

onor individual differences in trauma reaction. Your way is not the only way. People bring their full life experiences to the events of September 11, 2001. It is not useful to tell others how to handle their own trauma. For example, telling someone he or she must be strong is useless. People are coping the best they can.·

Recognize the value of tears. Tears are simply a tender tribute to mourning. They are a natural reaction of men, women, and children to internal stress. They remove unhealthy stress-related toxins from the body.·

Reach out to those more directly affected. Call those you know who are affected, even if distantly affected. Perhaps invite them over for dinner or take them a meal. Listen exquisitely. They may say the same things over and over again. Honor these experiences by listening rather than giving advice or telling them that things could have been worse.·

Limit television and radio. Turn it on only occasionally and then go for a walk or put on some calming music to remind yourself that most of the people in the world and in your community are good. Human goodwill and kindness illuminate the darkness even as a single candle can pierce the darkness.·

Do something to help. Donate blood. Send money to the American Red Cross or one of the other organizations that are helping directly. Fly an American flag or put a candle in your window to affirm your commitment that darkness will not overcome the light. Plant a tree or perennial plant to remind yourself at next year’s anniversary that life prevails.

Utilize spiritual resources. Attend church, synagogue, mosque or other faith community services or vigils. Be authentic with the God of your understanding.

Seek professional support. Additional trauma support, counseling and resources are available with the following organizations.

Coalition of victim assistance organizations providing this information include:

California Crime Victim Compensation Board, Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, Joint Center on Violence and Victim Studies, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National Office, National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards, National Association of VOCA Administrators, National Center for Victims of Crime, National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).

Additional information and trauma recovery tips can be found at
National Center for Victims of Crime
Parents of Murdered Children
National Organization for Victim Assistance
Arizona Attorney General's Office.

Reactions of Children and Adolescents to Terrorism

Most children who might be affected by the terrorist attacks were witnesses through their parents or the media. Some children will have had parents or loved ones killed in the tragedy. Others will know friends whose loved ones have been killed. Not all children will know anyone or have reactions to the threat or the attack. They may feel safe in their homes and communities. Young children, particularly, may not understand adult reactions. It is important to reassure those children of their safety at this time. For those who have an immediate involvement with people who have been killed or injured, the following may be useful.

 


 

Development stages affect how children interpret their fear or how they experience traumatic reaction.

Pre-School (ages 2 to 6)

  • Death may be thought of as a different state but not permanent.
  • Time and space is only related to concrete or personal concerns.
  • The focus for children of this age is on their immediate life.
  • They may also believe that what they think about something can cause it to happen.
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    School-age children (ages 6-10)

  • Death may still be thought of as reversible.
  • Death is externalized into concrete fears and images of monsters or scary people.
  • Death may cause conflicted feelings about another person’s death or the terrorism attack. Children may fear for their own death.
  • The disruption in routine may cause children to experience a disruption in their own sense of identity and belonging to the world.
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    This is an age when children become more conscious of right and wrong. If they think they have done something wrong to cause what happened they will feel guilt. If they think others have done something wrong, they are likely to feel violent anger. If they cannot comprehend the issues they may distance themselves from any feelings because, “it doesn’t matter.”

    Early adolescence (10-13 for girls, 12-15 for boys)

  • Due to physical changes, children in this age group often talk about physical stress-related symptoms: nausea, headaches, sleep disturbances, frequent crying spells, and so on.
  • Preadolescence and adolescence brings with them a solid concept of death.
  • The emotional roller-coaster that a child deals with at this age is manifested in wide mood swings.
  • In early adolescence, children become more preoccupied with peer relationships and begin to distrust or challenge adult interpretations of the world. When they perceive adults have failed them, they may be particularly hostile to the adult world.
  • There is a tendency for children to become very emotional in response to emotion-laden events at this age.
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    Ideals and commitments are viewed as a sacred trust. Betrayal of promises, vows, or relationships is rarely tolerated, even when being faithful to them may be harmful to the children who rely upon them or when the person making such vows is incapable of honoring them.

    Words and symbols mean a great deal to the preadolescent and the adolescent child. Emphasize the use of stories, plays, poetry, and music lyrics often as a basis for expression.

    Adolescence (13-18)

  • Normally, adolescence tends to increase the emotional upheaval of preadolescence.
  • Adolescent behavior is inconsistent. Anger may manifest itself as rage, and sorrow may become suicidal.
  • The immediacy of death when it affects teenagers is in stark contrast to their desire to see death as a part of a far distant future and their inherent sense of immortality. Sometimes their activities center on proving themselves more powerful than death. Involvement in risk-taking activities may be exacerbated by the loss of risk-inhibitions due to traumatization. They often express themselves by acting out and through experimenting with new behaviors.
  • Most adolescents are creative and energetic. Their creativity is manifested through the creation of their own symbols, activities, and words. Many young people create symbolic activities to memorialize their losses and to maintain a living connection to loved ones who have died or been injured in a catastrophe.
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    Children’s reactions to trauma at any stage are affected by the impact of “parent loss”

  • Actual loss of parent(s)
  • A violent, traumatic event may cause the death of a parent. Children then must cope with the shock of the event but also with the sudden loss of one of the most important people in the world to them.
  • Perceived loss of parent(s)
  • Often parents and other significant adults in a child’s life are unavailable to the child after a traumatic event because parents are so involved with other concerns.
  • Actual or perceived parent loss can be more traumatic than the trauma event itself
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    Common coping skills among children and adolescents

    Coping through spasmodic crises

  • Children naturally allow themselves to deal with crisis and trauma by confronting those issues incrementally. They tend to focus on their grief and distress in short time periods and then return to everyday activities. They are not prone to dwelling on events or concentrating and analyzing the aftermath. They may become overwhelmed with emotions relating to a tragedy for a while but other things often divert them.
  • Seeking and relying upon help from others

  • Resilient children develop strategies for finding older children or adults who might help them. They will gravitate towards people who seem to provide stability and comfort. A child whose parent has died may actively identify a surrogate parent in the neighborhood or become especially close to a teacher or religious group leader.
  • A sense of a foreshortened future

  • Many children after surviving trauma cannot conceptualize a long-lasting life. This can be a positive coping skill when it helps them to focus on the present. It can be a negative coping skill when they believe that they may, or can, or will die in the near future and contribute to that belief through their actions.
  • Retreat into fantasy

  • Children often use fantasy as an escape from reality. They may imagine “savior” endings to a traumatic event that resulted in death or destruction. At times their fantasies will involve seeing themselves as the savior to the event; at other times they may imagine a loved one appearing as a superhero.
  • Education and aspiration

  • Some children cope well because they view the traumatic event as something to overcome through their learning or physical activities. School can provide a welcome relief to a traumatized child because it is routinized and the child knows what is expected. Lessons that are targeted and have definable goals help children to concentrate and adapt.
  • Spirituality

  • Children may cope better if they have a belief in God or other spirits. Children may believe that they are communicating with a loved one who has died and that they see the ghost or spirit of the loved one. This is not a frightening thought to many children but a comfort as they continue to grow and develop. Some children rely upon a belief in a loving God to help them through times when they feel alone and afraid.
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    Interventions for traumatized children

    Establish safety and security

  • Respond to and provide opportunities for children to receive positive human physical contact to reaffirm needs for sensory comfort and care.
  • Help children get enough sleep.
  • Help children develop protective plans of action if another traumatic event were to occur.
  • Provide them with physical symbols of nurturing, love, or remembrance.
  • Allow children to tell what happened and to talk about death and loss

  • Encourage them to tell or develop stories that help them explore intense reactions such as anger or fear.
  • Ensure that children understand differences between life and death.
  • Reassure them that sadness and grief are a necessary part of surviving the death of someone they loved.
  • Talk with them about what they observed in the reactions of parents, peers, or other significant adults.
  • Predict what will happen and prepare children for the future

  • Encourage the establishment and reestablishment of comforting routines.
  • Provide them with tangible comfort items: a photograph of a loved one who died, a stuffed animal, or a favorite blanket.
  • Educate them about trauma, death, and loss.
  • Help them develop reasons for living.
  • Help them take time to think about their future.
  • Support adult caregivers in their efforts to react appropriately.
  • Work to help children solve problems they face because of the trauma.
  • Address what can and can’t be done.
  • Help mitigate other changes in their lives.
  • Address estrangement or their removal from peers and friends.
  • Help children frame their loss in the context of all of their relationships and their life as a whole.
  • Help children focus on the future.
  • Give concrete aid and factual information.
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    Copyright 2001, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR VICTIM ASSISTANCE©, Washington, DC. Permission is granted to reproduce this material provided its source is properly credited

     


     

    Recommended Books for Children Experiencing a Loss or Trauma

    The Tree that Survived the Winter - Mary Fahy, Paulist Press. 1989 (All ages though adult)

    Take Time to Relax! - Nancy Carlson, puffin Books, 1991. ISBN # 0-14-054242-6. Ask for soft cover edition.

    The Knight Who Was Afraid of the Dark - Barbara Shook Hazen, Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN # 0-8037-0667-7. Ask for soft cover.

    There's Something in My Attic - Mercer Mayer, Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN #0-8037-0414-3. Ask for soft cover edition.

    There's a Nightmare in My Closet - Mercer Mayer, Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN # 0-8037-8574-7.

    I hear a Noise - Diane Goode, Dutton Children's Books (Puffin Unicorn Book), NY. 1988. ISBN # 0-525-44884-5.

    When Someone Very Special Dies - Marge Heegaard. Woodland Press, 1988. ISBN # 0-96-20502-0-2.

    When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death - Laurie Krasny Brown and Mark Brown, Little Brown and Company, 1996.

    The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story for All Ages. - Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D. 1982. SLACK Inc. ISBN # 0-943432-89-8, or Henry Holt and Co. ISBN # 0-8050-1064-5.

    Sunshine: More Meditations for Children - Maureen Garth, Collins Dove, 1994. ISBN # 1-86371-406-5.