FACTS ABOUT THE VIOLENCE AND RISK CATEGORIES OF CITIZENS
Each action or behavior directed against the other person or your own personality, which provokes physical, mental and emotional suffering, may be called violence. Violence is an anti-human act in its social essence. It is a kind of crime and violates the dignity and the interests of the personality. Violence is one of the possible results of aggressive behavior. Like it, it also has a lot of varieties and forms of manifestation. Violence is manifested in various manners depending on the fact who its perpetrators are, who the victims are and what the relationships between them are. You should know its logical features to cope with violence.
FACTS ABOUT VIOLENCE AS A PROBLEM OF CITIZENS
There are people who use violence with regard to others everywhere throughout the world. The growth of domestic violence increases with deepening the social-economic crisis in the society. Within this context the unemployment and the absence of financial security may be indicated as main factors provoking the violence in all its forms. The observations over life as well as data from studies conducted indicate that domestic violence predominates in our country with regard to its amounts and cruelty. According to other research, the Balkans are a place where violence is a part of the growth of the children, i.e. a corrective measure. Violence in the family is provoked more seldom by the fact that the child violated a parental prohibition and more frequently by the fact that there is a problem in the family. The indicated facts support the thesis that violence in our country serves for overcoming family problems and is an expression of the principle “The stronger is always right”.
MODERN FACTORS OF THE ENVIRONMENT WHICH INCREASE THE TENDENCY FOR USE OF VIOLENCE IN OUR COUNTRY
- The social-economic and financial crisis and their consequences – factors which threaten the physical survival of individuals or families and provoke spiritual disillusionment;
- The mass information media – a factor, which threatens the building up of the value system in adolescents and within a certain meaning provokes the use of violence as a mechanism for the solution of conflicts;
- Globalization – a factor which threatens the self-realization of the personality. In global society one is aware of his imperfection and more and more frequently gets depressed.
- Alienation – a factor which threatens the cohesiveness of the society as a group and provokes mistrust and insecurity;
Social devaluation – a factor which threatens the preservation of spiritual identity. The absence of values and value orientation is reflected predominantly regressively onto mankind.
WHAT DO VIOLATORS DIFFER FROM OTHER PEOPLE BY?
To our regret there are no clearly defined signs. There are violators amongst all the communities. They are not representatives of a certain social group and may not be distinguished for their religion, age, political partialities.
Violators may be:
- Rich or poor;
- Young or old;
- Married or single;
- Low or highly educated;
- From a family of full value or not;
Some characteristics of the personality of the violators may be identified which determine that they may show violent behavior in specific situations.
Mental characteristics predominating in the personality profile of the person with violent behavior:
- Persons with low self-esteem compensated in the idealization of physical superiority as means for subordination of people they communicate with;
- Persons with emotional instability resulting in the absence of self-control in extreme situations;
- Persons with extreme egocentrism at satisfying their own needs;
- Persons with enhanced aggressiveness and cruelty and with deficits in telecommunication methods for acceptance and forgiveness;
- Persons who consider themselves as untouchables – vindictive and full of hatred to anyone who gets in their way;
- Persons with primitive consciousness for the woman and her role in the family and social life;
- Persons with alcohol and other substance addiction.
RISK CATEGORIES OF CITIZENS
The risk groups with specific age or social particularities may be identified through description of the various categories of victims. The knowledge of the particularities in the behavior of the various kinds of victims shall help police officers to optimize and individualize the approach to each individual case.
The victims may be categorized as primary and secondary. An idea is obtained in this manner of the degree of impact over the victim in a physical or psychological aspect. A primary victim shall be each individual who suffers from physical injuries or an emotional trauma as a result of criminal offense or disaster. A secondary victim may be a witness or a person related to the primary crime victim in any manner whatsoever. The reactions in primary victims are more intensive and the trauma is experienced in a more profound and serious manner. The victims experience various in intensity mental and physical traumas. This depends on the degree of “participation” in the criminal deed.
It is necessary to know the risk groups and the subjects belonging to them in the police practice for good preventive work as well as for the appropriate evaluation of the victim of violence:
High risk victims:
- People with deviant or criminal behavior;
- People belonging to destructive family and/or social environment;
- People with deviations in their mental and intellectual development.
Moderately risk victims:
- People originating from inferior families;
- People with eccentric habits;
- Children without parental control.
Low risk victims:
- People with normal living, professional and social environment.
AGE AS A FACTOR
CHILDREN are a particularly vulnerable category due to their incapacity to render physical resistance. The absence of social and living experience deprives them of the possibility to evaluate the deeds of violence as such.
Such examples are observed when:
- The violator is a close relative;
- Violence is daily occurrence in the family;
- With inspired sense of guilt;
- Announcements are made about imaginary violence which was not really committed.
In this connection it is necessary to consult the children’s testimonies with a psychologist.
PUBERTY AGE is a risk time period, which prerequisites may be created in for frivolous and/or extreme behavior. The risk of commitment of antisocial acts and crimes is increased.
PEOPLE AGED OVER 65
Sometimes the behavior of this risk group of people is characterized further to the painful withdrawal from social activity also by biological degradation and mental changes. They may be expressed in problems with memory and thinking, lower capability for the exercise of control over the emotional status, exacerbation of conflictness and so on.
DEVIATIONS IN THE MENTAL AND INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT AS A RISK FACTOR. MENTAL DISEASES
There are changes in the consciousness and the behavior of patients suffering from nearly all kinds of mental diseases, which increase the risk of violence to a different degree. The incapacity of this category of people to evaluate adequately certain situations turns them into potential targets and crime victims. Because of their specific disease related state they cope with the trauma with difficulty. Problems may arise also with regard to the authenticity of their testimony.
The problems of this category of people are related to the problems of the mentally ill patients. They frequently do not understand the meaning of the actions performed with regard to them and it is due to this reason that they with difficulty or in principle at all do not evaluate them as criminal ones. Their intellectual deficit and the particularities of reproduction of the information often generate doubts for the authenticity of the deed.
CONDITIONS AND TYPICAL REACTIONS OF THE VICTIM
To demonstrate adequate attitude and to fulfill their professional obligations in a competent manner, the police officers should have the needed knowledge about the condition and the reactions of the victims of violence and show understanding to them. At the evaluation of the status of the victim attention should be paid to the intensity of experiencing the mental trauma. When the victim is in a condition of traumatic or post-traumatic stress, it is possible to observe behavior which at first sight would look as illogical and disturbing for the police officers. These reactions are normal reactions to an abnormal event in human life.
The severity of the symptoms depends on factors such as:
- physical and mental condition of the victim;
- availability of previous experience with similar situations;
- the adequate reply of the police officer;
- support by the family, the professional and social community.
ACUTE STRESS REACTION
It arises directly at the time of the stressful event and is related to:
- initial condition of stupor;
- narrowing of attention and disorientation;
- withdrawal from the stressful situation;
- excessive anxiety, self-isolation;
- excitement, anger, hyperactivity.
Partial or full amnesia for the time of the traumatic event may be observed. It is recommendable in similar events that the victim should be taken out of the stressful situation fast. Usually the symptoms disappear quickly and painless work may be done for the victim. If this does not happen, the symptoms start to disappear spontaneously 24-48 hours up to 3 days later.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
It arises in the events when the traumatic reaction is not well mastered and the victim may not cope with the trauma. The matter is about a delayed reaction to the stressful event. The symptoms of the post-traumatic stress disorder are:
- Episodes of repeated experience of the trauma as sudden remembrance of individual fragments of the situation;
- Experiences in the form of dreams, nightmares;
- Continuing feeling of “stupor” and emotional bluntness;
- Manifestation of hostility to others;
- Loss of temper, appetite, sleep disturbances;
- Avoidance of actions and signals reminding the traumatic situation.
REACTIONS IN THE CRIME VICTIM OTHER THAN THE TRAUMATIC AND POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS
Feeling of guilt and self-incriminations. These symptoms are disseminated in events of sexual crimes and domestic violence. Frequently this feeling is inspired by the violator aimed at the provision of “silence” on the part of the victim.
- Feeling of helplessness and fear. The generation of fear and anxiety as effects of violence may result in negative changes in the social behavior of the victim and in this manner his/her feeling for protection shall be hurt.
- Paradoxical reactions as laughter or devaluation of what has happened.
- Uncontrollable anger and aggression and redirection of the angry reactions to neutral subjects, predominantly to the representatives of the law. This is a frequently encountered reaction and it is paradoxical in events of domestic violence. Similar behavior, however, is not an expression of personal attitude to the official of the order and the law. The victim feels need of prompt relaxation and anger is an intensive emotional state. The violator is the aim of this anger but the interrelations victim – perpetrator not always allow for adequate release of the emotion and in this case the anger is directed at another more accessible target.
WHAT THE VICTIM OF VIOLENCE EXPERIENCES
The systematic and occasional experience of the violence results in change of personality. The experience of violence is reflected onto the quality of coping with the tasks of daily life. It causes negative mental states which disturb the dynamic stereotype. The experience of violence is perceived as an event which provokes a crisis of the existence. The consequences of experiencing violence may be described as post-traumatic stress disorder. It may be detected in the behavior of the victim and in his/her health status. The maltreated, humiliated, injured, raped person lives in fear. Fear changes the self-confidence of the victim. Fear provokes:
- Low self-confidence and devaluation of life;
- Feeling of hatred to oneself;
- Compliance with the requirements of the violator;
- Refusal of one’s own opinion;
- Compromise with one’s own principles and needs;
- Feeling of guilt and helplessness;
- Substance abuse;
- Chronic anxiety;
- Membership in various groups.
The victim feels dissatisfaction with the interpersonal interaction and life perspective loses its meaning. Life “without a compass” is a prerequisite for self-isolation, aggression or auto-aggression.
PSYCHOLOGICAL SIGNS FOR RECOGNITION OF THE VICTIMS, IN CONFORMITY WITH THE KIND OF THE EXPERIENCE
Symptoms of the victims of physical violence:
- Children - seclusion /apathy/, aggressive behavior, suppressed weeping, emotional dependence, avoidance of eye contact, indiscriminative attachment.
- Adolescents - seclusion /apathy/, aggressive and self-destructive behavior, self-harm, problems at school, fear of failure, substance abuse, escape from home.
- Young people - seclusion /apathy/, aggressive and anti-social behavior, lack of uniformity with young people at the same age and seeking the attention of the adults, escapes from home and use of alcohol, drugs and so on, problems at school.
- Adults – incapacity for maintaining continuous and satisfying relationships, poor self-confidence, manifestations of fear, anger and situations of violence.
Symptoms of the victims of sexual violence
- Children – sexualized behavior, rigidity, emotional dependence, passivity, seclusion, excitability, difficulties in eating.
- Adolescents – sexualized behavior, incapacity to get attached to adolescents of the same age, absentmindedness, eating disorders /bulimia, anorexia, obesity/, problems at school.
- Young people – sexualized behavior, airs and graces, debauchery and prostitution, disobedience or kindliness brought to extreme isolation, fear, self-harm, suicide symptoms, pseudo-maturity, eating disorders, abuse with alcohol and drugs, escape from home.
- Adults – sexual problems, mistrust, shame of one’s body, inability for self-affirmation, feeling a victim, abuse with alcohol or drugs, poor self-confidence.
REACTIONS OF THE POLICE OFFICERS
The adequate reaction of the officers may be a main prerequisite for the painless for the victim conduct of the procedures for the investigation. During the police intervention the officer may experience various emotional states and observe his/her own natural reactions. The first step in mastering his/her own reaction on the part of the police officer is his/her skill to self-evaluate his/her emotional state and choose an appropriate model of professional behavior.
What might the natural reactions of the police officers working with crime victims be?
- Anger – emotion characteristic of situations in which there is obviously criminal behavior of the victim or in situations of particulalry cruel behavior on the part of the violator;
- Projection – when the victim with some of his/her characteristics reminds the officer of a person close to him/her;
- Helplessness and lack of knowledge - when the police officer is inexperienced, is not trained and does not know the model of taking care of and redirecting the victim;
- Confusion – when the police officer does not have sufficient professional and social experience and does not know the reactions and the behavior of the victims;
- Indifference, formality, devaluation of what has happened – sometimes with over experienced employees with professional experience of many years.
THE DESCRIBED REACTIONS AND BEHAVIOR ARE FULLY NATURAL BUT THEY SHOULD NOT BE DEMONSTRATED BY THE POLICE OFFICERS IN ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER!
THE SOLE APPROPRIATE REACTION IS THE UNCONDITIONAL BEHAVIOR OF SYMPATHY, UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORT!
ETHICAL PRINCIPLES AT WORK OF POLICE OFFICERS WITH CRIME VICTIMS
Police officers shall observe the following principles in their work with crime victims:
- Respect for the individual – each person – a crime victim is entitled to respect;
- Confidentiality – preservation of the secrets of the victim and of the data collected about the intervention;
- Sincerity – a clearly defined idea of the established problems, discussions with the crime victim and realistic approach to reality;
- Awareness of one’s own limitations – it requires that the professional should use the cooperation of a collaborator when he/she may not find the solutions by him-/herself;
- Negotiation of the decisions with the crime victim and their observation – it requires that each of the Parties should realize the manners of action, render cooperation at making decisions and observe them;
- Absence of discrimination – respect for the cultural, ethnic, religious, social identity of the victim of violence.
MAIN PSYCHOLOGICAL RECOMMENDATIONS AND PRINCIPLES OF BEHAVIOR OF POLICE OFFICERS WITH CRIME VICTIMS
- Demonstrate sympathetic, supportive and non-evaluative attitude.
- Comply with and respect the dignity, the human rights and the individual particularities of the victim.
- Inform the crime victim about his/her rights and the possibilities for him/her to make use of specialized services.
- Assure the victim that he/she is safe and is protected from new encroachments, violence and fear.
- Get personally assured that the victim and his/her relatives and close friends are informed about the procedures and the results of the investigation as well as about the consequences for the perpetrator.
- Take measures for reducing to a minimum the risk of mental and physical trauma or related traumatization of the victim.
- In events of need redirect the victim to other rendering assistance institutions.
SEQUENCE OF STEPS FOR WORK WITH CRIME VICTIMS
First step – provision of supportive environment for crime victims.
Each crime against the personality results in dramatic change in the state of the victim. Threat for the physical, personal or the social integrity of the individual may be expected after such an event. The high risk of unfavorable development after the crime ensues also from the meaning of the event for the victim. All this bears a risk for unfavorable development after the crime or difficulties in the recovery processes for overcoming the stress. A state of emotional anxiety is characteristic of the victim. He/She feels confused, with a feeling of inefficiency and life before failure. The mental blocking which the victim feels may be expressed in impossiblity for concentration and fragmentation of thoughts. The behavioral problems /crying, aggression, refusal for cooperation/ as well as vegetative disorders /palpitation, suffocation, tremor/ are another characteristic feature of a similar state. Due to the suddenness of the experienced event, crime victims are susceptible to impact. This requires that the meeting of the victim with the representative of the Ministry of Interior should be modelled in a manner which shall recover the hope that “life has its meaning and may continue its course” in spite of the experienced. The other mandatory part of the model of the meeting is the enhancement of the confidence in the victim. He/She should feel that he/she is safe and is protected from a new encroachment in spite of the event experienced.
Appropriate supportive impacts may be:
- I see that you are very upset but I assure you that we will work earnestly for the detection of the crime as well as for the fair punishment of the perpetrators.
- It may be difficult for you to answer my questions at the moment but I am ready to hear your story.
- I am ready to answer your questions about my powers.
- I assure you that you, your relatives and close friends will be informed about the results of the investigation and the consequences for the perpetrator.
- If you start to feel mistrust in our actions, please, share your opinion with us so that we could limit your negative emotions.
- Confidentiality in our interrelations is a mandatory condition. It is important that you should trust us.
Second step – evaluation of the mental state of the crime victim.
Symptoms may always be identified in the mental state of the victim which trouble his/her adequate participation in the meeting with the police officer. The impossibility of a person to oppose what is happening results in a mental trauma. It is provoked predominantly by the exposition of the person to an event which threatens his/her life. The manner in which the victim experiences the threat is of exceptional significance in this event. Four types of traumatic events are classified in this respect:
- A single event without danger to life - robbery;
- A single event with high degree of threat to life - rape, abduction, attack;
- Multiple repetitive events without danger to life – mental harassment /mockery, insults/;
- Multiple repetitive events experiencing threat to life – physical beating, blackmail, financial dependence, isolation.
Symptoms for severe mental state with possibility for serious disadaptation.
- Symptoms of emotional nature: anger, fear, oppression, enhanced tension, confusion, helplessness, deviations in self-evaluation;
- Symptoms of physical nature: dizziness, feeling faint, palpitation, nausea, shivering, sweating, tremor;
- Symptoms of behavioral nature: aggressive outbursts, self-isolation, apathy;
- Symptoms of mental nature: distortions - “I am to be blamed for what happened”, impossibility for analyzing the crime in a chronological sequence.
Third step – redirection of the crime victim to other forms of social support aimed at reducing to a minimum the risk of mental and physical trauma.
This step requires the interaction between the police officer and the crime victim should be built up on 3 categories of competences:
- Protection of the crime victim.
- Satisfaction of the needs of the crime victim.
- Maintenance of connections between the crime victims and other institutions for rendering social and other support.
Within this meaning the professional strategies for the enhancement of the sensitivity of the police officers to the problems of crime victims require the use of a target strategy with the following dimensions:
- Provision of information about the institutions which offer social services related to the social, health, mental and legal consultation of victims of violence.
- Mediation for improvement of the dialogue between the state and the municipal units through accessible, confidential and competent support of the victims of violence;
- Introduction of new forms of interaction between the local state institutions and the non-governmental sector on the one hand and the police institution on the other hand as responsible for rendering support to the victims of violence;
- Ratification of the lawful solution of crimes with observation of the legal and statutory legislation.