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What Works for Crime Victims

What Works for Crime Victims


After the Second World War, the role of the victim in criminal conflict became an object of interest for academics. But it was only in the 1960s that the importance of providing protection and assistance to crime victims was highlighted in particular by the victims' movement, which inaugurated a new era of criminal justice in systems throughout the world. Moving beyond just the role of controlling crime and punishing the offender, the criminal justice system also began to contribute to the victims' rehabilitation and to help the victim to move on from the event psychologically and emotionally. Although some criminological research was conducted on this topic, the effect that the criminal justice system and victim support services have on the well-being of crime victims is still uncertain. The current study sought to understand the healing process of victims of crime, the potential consequences of their participation on the criminal justice system, and the support of victim centers. Moreover, it aimed to find out whether the existence of a Victim Support Act would change the treatment that the victim receives in the criminal justice system. Thus this research was conducted based in two countries – Switzerland and Brazil – where the outcome of the victims' movement on the criminal justice system was different, as was the participation of the victim in the criminal justice system and the government's provision of support. In order to conduct this research the qualitative method was employed, which is the most efficient to gather sensitive information. Interviews with crime victims were the main source of information. Hearing observation and document research were used as complementary sources. The results of this research show that victims who have contact with the criminal justice system and victim services are not more likely to recover than those who had no contact. This is to say, the support offered has no major effects; the influence of the criminal justice system and the victim support services in the emotional well-being of crime victims is rather neutral. However, considering that the sample is not representative, findings are not expected to be generalized. Instead, findings may give insight to practitioners or to future criminal justice policy makers, suggesting what may work to improve the emotional well-being of crime victims, as well as suggesting further studies.