Violent crime has profound impacts on victims that often extend beyond the immediate, physical trauma. While bodily injuries are most visible, victims may also experience enduring and debilitating psychological effects as they begin to cope with the aftermath of a violent crime. If left untreated, a victim or his/her loved ones may develop a myriad of psychological, emotional and physical health challenges.
Mental Health Consequences of Violent Crime
Research has shown a strong correlation between mental health, trauma and violence. The mental health consequences of violent crime are extensive, and the traumatic injuries sustained can cast a wide range of psychological and emotional issues including:
- Anger or irritability
- Detachment or estrangement of others
- Memory loss or forgetfulness
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sleeping disorders
- Recurring flashbacks or intrusive thoughts
Children are susceptible to long-term psychological injuries that may persist well into adulthood. Child victims have been known to suffer adverse effects such as poor academic performance, aggression, antisocial behavior, substance abuse and personality disorders. Molestation victims may develop sexual, obsessive compulsive and/or major depressive disorders.
As the cost of mental health care increases, many victims find themselves struggling to pay for mental health services.
CalVCP can assist with expenses related to inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment that is necessary as a direct result of the qualifying crime.
The financial assistance and resources provided by CalVCP promote healing and recovery and provide victims with the opportunity to restore their lives to their fullest potential. Victims can apply for CalVCP assistance in four ways:
- Contact a local county Victim Witness Assistance Center. A victim advocate at the center can help victims complete and submit an application as well as provide other assistance. Most victim witness centers are part of the county District Attorney’s office.
- A list of California Victim Witness Assistance Centers can be found on CalVCP's Local Help pages
- Call the CalVCP Help Line at (800) 777-9229
- Download an application from CalVCP's How to Apply page
- E-mail CalVCP at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about CalVCP benefits, see the CalVCP Benefit Reference Guide.
Child Witnesses to Violent Crime
Minors who suffer emotional injuries from witnessing a violent crime may be eligible for up to $5,000.00 in mental health counseling through CalVCP. A law that went into effect in 2009 allows the minor witness to be eligible for assistance even if he or she is unrelated to the crime victim. To qualify, the minor witness must have been in close proximity to the crime.
Child Victims of Crime
For information regarding child victims of crime, please refer to the Child Crime Victims: Standards of Care Task Force Guidelines (2001).
Published by the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB), Victim Compensation Program, this 300-page volume is the result of the efforts of a group of mental health providers and organization representatives who specialize in the treatment of child trauma victims in the State of California. The goal of this group was to produce a set of guidelines that reflect a consensus of the most effective practices for remediating the effects of emotional trauma in child victims of crime. The task force was convened by the VCGCB; the work of the task force was to address the needs of all victims of child maltreatment.
Emergency Medical Services: 911
For potentially life-threatening crises, get immediate emergency assistance by calling 911, available 24 hours a day.
Find a Psychologist
The National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology provides an online directory of psychologists and additional helpful information.
Find a Therapist
CounselingCalifornia.com provides a searchable directory of licensed therapists, most of whom are members of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
List of County Mental Health Departments
The California Department of Health Care Services' Mental Health Services Division maintains a list of county mental health departments on their website. The Medi-Cal and MHSA programs' services are directly provided at the local level by counties and their contract providers.
United Advocates for Children and Family
United Advocates for Children and Families (UACF) is a non profit organization with a mission to improve the quality of life for all children and youth with mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges and to eliminate institutional discrimination and social stigma.