This online brochure from the HELP Brochure Series of the federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) addresses the characteristics of the offense and potential victimization harms of homicide, identifies victimization needs that frequently occur as a result of homicide, and provides information on services available for victims and how to access them.
This brochure defines homicide as "the willful, intentional killing of one human being by another, including murder, manslaughter, and vehicular homicide." Survivors of homicide victims, also called co-victims, are generally defined as the family members, friends, and other loved ones of the victim. They are viewed as co-victims because they experience the life-changing impact of the trauma, hardship, and loss that result from homicide. Co-victims are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological harms. Families may have financial issues with the death of the victim. Co-victim stress may also result from the investigation and criminal justice processing of the homicide. This may cause overwhelming confusion, frustration, anger, and a sense of futility. The brochure provides information and advice on services and programs that can address the various harms and needs caused by the homicide. It is recommended that co-victims contact a victim assistance professional or a victim advocate as soon as possible after being notified of the homicide. Many victim assistance professionals are linked to criminal justice agencies, so they are particularly helpful in dealing with issues related to criminal proceedings. They are also knowledgeable about various services available in the community to address victim needs. Contact information is listed for nationwide victim resources and assistance.