14. Victimology

14.5 Victim Assistance Services

Dr. Jordana K. Norgaard and Dr. Benjamin Roebuck

Victims can receive help through a variety of victim services throughout each stage of the criminal justice system. Victim-based services can be police-based, court-based, or community-based. Police-based victim services are available to victims of all types of crime and trauma. They are located in RCMP detachments and/or municipal police departments. Police-based victim service programs respond to police call-outs and provide critical incident response to victims and their family members in the immediate aftermath of crime or trauma (Province of British Columbia, 2021c). Crown or court-based services are available to victims of crime to enhance the understanding and participation of victims and witnesses in the court process. Victim court support case workers work alongside victims, witnesses, and their families to provide updates, information, and emotional assistance. They can assist with preparing victim impact statements, applications for Crime Victim Assistance (if applicable), and registration with a victim safety unit (if applicable). Additionally, victim court support case workers can accompany victims and witnesses to court and Crown counsel interviews and help connect victims and witnesses at the courthouse with victim service programs and other resources (Government of Canada, n.d.; Province of British Columbia, 2021d). Community-based victim services are available to assist victims of family and sexual violence, regardless of whether the victim has reported the crime to the police. Some communities have specific programs for women, children, youth, male survivors of sexual abuse, Indigenous peoples, and people from specific ethnic communities. Services can be found in sexual assault centres, victim advocacy groups, distress centres, and safe homes (Province of British Columbia, 2021c).

For many communities and victims and/or survivors of crime, traditional approaches to healing such as talk therapy and crisis intervention may have little relevance within their cultural context (D’Anniballe, 2011, as cited in Poore, Shulruff & Bein, 2013, p. 3). Instead, these communities may opt to use more holistic and culturally relevant approaches to heal from trauma and victimisation. A growing body of research has demonstrated that trauma can result in significant changes to both the neurological and physiological make-up of an individual. Trauma can affect survivors in many ways, and consequently, victim service providers have begun to respond to an assortment of needs with a variety of healing paths. This may include art therapy, arts and crafts, meditation and mindfulness, music and dance, sweat lodge ceremonies, on-the-land and camping programs, healing circles, prayer, and traditional herbal medicines (Poore et al., 2013). Moving away from traditional, Western approaches to healing can be beneficial for victim service providers assisting Indigenous clients. Some Indigenous victims may be wary of accessing victim services due to past discrimination and racism by social and legal institutions (Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General BC, 2009). As a result, some Indigenous victims may opt to access and use traditional approaches and culturally specific strategies as part of their support and healing process.


Highlight Box 5: British Columbia’s Family Information Liaison Unit

The BC Family Information Liaison Unit (FILU) (n.d.) is a provincial frontline victim service unit for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Prior to the release of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Canada in 2017, consultation with families of MMWIG found a number of difficulties in accessing consistent, reliable, and fulsome information related to their missing or murdered loved one(s). Stemming from the recommendations of the National Inquiry on MMIWG, federal funding was announced to develop and implement family information liaison units in each province and territory. BC’s FILU became operational in 2018.

FILUs are designed to assist family members[1] in accessing information they are seeking related to the loss of their loved one. Family members are able to access information in a ‘one-stop-shop’ to request existing information such as police investigations, coroner reports and inquests, and court proceedings related to their loved one(s). FILU works with system partners to share the gathered information with family members in both a trauma-informed and culturally sensitive manner. FILU services and supports travel across British Columbia to help connect families to local services and supports finding healing from the trauma of losing their loved one(s) to violence.

  1. FILU services and supports are available to family members of missing or murdered Indigenous women, whether or not they are participating in the National Inquiry.


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Introduction to Criminology Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Jordana K. Norgaard and Dr. Benjamin Roebuck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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