A victim is more than a person who has suffered a wrong. They’ve lost a part of themselves. It can be as little as a few dollars or as catastrophic as having a child, family member, friend, or loved one taken from them.
Never start off telling a victim who has just lost a part of themselves, “I’m sorry but I can’t tell you…” and then cite some rule or regulation that is made to protect you, the offender, or the institution that you work for. Do not lead with the need to conceal details from the victim because to share every detail would be wrong, violate confidentiality, or break some rule. The person has just been wronged, violated, and broken. Don’t give the impression that you’re going to do the same thing again.
Recently, I spoke to five different individuals trying to help a victim. One person tried to push me off to the following week, one refused to answer even simple questions, and three led with, “Sorry, I can’t tell you…”
This isn’t how we get things done and it’s not how we help victims.
In all things, take care of yourself. It serves no one any good if you get hurt emotionally, spiritually, or financially. Follow the rules, just don’t lead with the rules. Don’t make it seem as if your primary aim is to make sure some federal, state, department, or school rule is not violated.
Instead, lead with how you want to help and not how you’re going to protect someone or something other than the victim.
“I’m with you. I want to help you. Let’s make this better. We can do this.”
Begin with a message of hope and not one of immediate hindrance.