What happens if you’re the victim of a violent crime and you need funds to cover your medical bills or time off work? What if your insurance isn’t enough? What if you were abused and need money to survive without the abuser? Earlier this week, mapgirl wrote about one option, victim relief funds which are often available through police departments.
These funds aren’t widely publicized, though perhaps police departments inform victims as standard procedure. Still, I hadn’t heard of one until she wrote about it. The problem with such a lack of publicity is that a) fewer people know that it’s there and they can contribute, b) fewer victims may know it’s there and c) people don’t think to start one.
In DC, the program is called the Crime Victims Compensation Program it:
assists innocent victims of violent crime and their families with crime-related expenses such as funeral and burial costs, medical and mental health costs, lost wages, loss of support and services, clean up of a crime scene and, for victims of domestic violence, the cost of temporary shelter. Through the services of a victim advocate, crime victims receive assistance in filing applications; locating victim service programs, support groups, or mental health counselors; and handling quality of life issues that arise after victimization.
If you’re the victim of a crime that leaves you needing funds, talk to your police department. Even if they don’t run one, they should be aware of local victim relief funds.
Besides getting monetary relief from victim funds, immigrants who are victims of crimes may be able to get “U Visas” (PDF from DHS.gov). These visas allow them to stay in the United States for a certain period. The legislation is particularly aimed at victims of domestic violence, who may fear deportation if they separate
The National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women has put together an introduction to and FAQ on the U-Visa (PDF).
What can you do? When considering which charities to give to, think about calling your local police department and asking how to give to their victim relief fund. It’s a way to help out in your local community.