Thursday, November 4, 2010

Financial (and Other) Assistance to Crime Victims.

People victimized by crime suffer physically, mentally, legally—and often financially. When filing a report of your crime with the police, they may be able to direct you to sources of help. If not, there are several places you can try.

The easy way is to dial 211 for this and other emergency social services IF 211 is in place in your area. You can check here. Put in your zip code, and it will tell you if you are covered by dialing 211, or if you are outside the service area, in which case it will give you another number you can call.

The U.S. Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime has a searchable database of places in the U.S. to go for help of different kinds, including financial. Picking through it is a little odd, so here’s a guide:

First, click the button that says “start here.” Then click the state in which you live and suffered the victimization, or click the box next to national. There’s even the option of picking another country (assuming you were a crime victim there). Next, you can search for an agency name OR the name of a city OR zip code, to narrow your search to a very specific area. Thirdly, you must pick the type of victimization you suffered (like stalking or sexual assault) by highlighting it, then clicking the arrow pointing to the right so that it ends up in the right hand box.

Next, pick the type of assistance you need. If you need money immediately, one of the choices to highlight and send to the right hand box is emergency financial assistance. Another category you might pick if you need financial assistance is assistance in filing compensation claims. Click search and a list of agencies in the area (more likely, the whole state) will appear, along with their phone number and the types of assistance they provide. Beyond money, many offer counseling, therapy, transportation, victim’s legal assistance and more.

If you want to find the state office in charge of victim’s rights (and often, financial compensation), go to this state map and click your state. Once in, click on the tab at the top that says VOCA state contacts. This will get you to the right state office.

Finally, if you are attempting to get information because a loved one is a missing person, and feel that a reward might result in tips helping to find that person, the Carole Sund Foundation offers money for rewards in such cases.  The award asssistance criteria is here.

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