How Chicago Survivors Helps
Crime Victim Rights Education and Protection
Crime victims, including immediate relatives of homicide victims, have legal rights in Illinois law and the State Constitution. Chicago Survivors protects the rights of vulnerable family members encountering numerous unfamiliar systems in the aftermath of homicide – whether in funeral planning, dealing with media attention, the criminal investigation, filing for Crime Victims Compensation, safety concerns, accompaniment and advocacy in the Courts.
Liaison and Mediation with Police
Every crime victim has the right to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement. Chicago Survivors advocates for families where any disrespect is alleged, where communications have broken down, where a formal complaint needs to be filed. Chicago Survivors also advocates for change in police protocols that negatively impact families after homicide, and trains law enforcement and prosecutors in the needs and expectations of families.
Retaliation Prevention and Safety Planning
The harsh reality of threats and intimidation of families following homicide necessitates both safety planning and retaliation prevention. Most retaliations are carried out by persons outside the family; however, families are often made aware of volatile community dynamics. Chicago Survivors has created an interactive Safety Plan to help families assess and limit risks, and a Retaliation Assessment Tool and Prevention Strategy for use with family members.
Psycho-education and Coping Skills
Through Supportive Counseling, Wellness Kits and Support Groups, Chicago Survivors provides psycho-education and coping skill-building to family members following homicide, including exercises in self-awareness, meditation and relaxation, stress reduction, anger management, assistance with insomnia and other effects of violent loss.
Practical Needs, Advocacy
The impact of violent loss affects every aspect of personal and family life. Chicago Survivors mitigates the impact by immediately assessing needs and vulnerabilities, articulating options and remedies, and accompanying family members as they navigate unfamiliar systems, encounter prejudice or discrimination against them as victims, and face lengthy waiting periods or gaps in referral to professional services, including legal aid, housing, therapy, psychiatric or medical care.
Return to Work and to School
Working family members need to go back to work following violent loss for economic stability and emotional wellbeing; however, returning can be difficult. Chicago Survivors assists working family members and employers in finding meaningful accommodations, often small, to allow employees to return. The return to school for children and youth is just as important so that they do not miss developmental milestones because they or their parent is struggling with trauma and grief. Victimized children are also frequent targets of bullying and social isolation. Chicago Survivors works with the parent or guardian and teachers, counselors and principals to ensure that a child who is ready to return to school is supported and monitored for success.