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  • Murder, assault, and battery are all violent crimes that greatly impact the victim and surviving loved ones.

  • Education about violence should dispel myths regarding stranger danger and provide strategies to avoid violence.

  • Resources exist at the federal and state level to provide compensation and assistance to victims and their survivors of crime.


Murder and assault and battery represent crimes that are significantly traumatic for both the victims and surviving family members and friends. According to the Office for Victims of Crime (n.d.), in 2010, an estimated 725,189 incidents of aggravated assault and 2.4 million cases of simple assault occurred in the United States. In 2010, incidents of assault accounted for 63% of violent crime in the United States. In both simple and aggravated assaults, firearms were the most common weapons used, followed by knives. During a 1-year period, 47% of youth ages 14 to 17 experienced a physical assault. In 2010, an aggravated assault occurred every 41 seconds (Office for Victims of Crime, n.d.).

Further, the nature of the relationship of the offender to the victim can have a significant impact on the recovery of the victim. Although most of American society focuses on “stranger danger,” research consistently shows that most victims do know their offenders (Finklehor, 2013). Specifically, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, 2015a), in 2011, in incidents of murder for which the relationships of murder victims and offenders were known, 54.3% were killed by someone they knew (acquaintance, neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.); 24.8% of victims were slain by family members. Additionally, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC, 2015), more than 200,000 children were abducted by family members.

The damaging impact of crimes such as murder and assault and battery are traumatic both physically and emotionally, and this trauma is often compounded by the fact that someone (the offender) has “taken” something—whether it be a life, property, or a sense of safety in daily life. According to an analysis of reported crimes in the United States from 2009 to 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that the majority (91%) of violent crime victims with socio-emotional problems experienced one or more emotional symptoms for a month or more. Most (61%) experienced one or more physical symptoms for a month or more. Further, a greater percentage of female than male victims experienced socio-emotional problems, regardless of the type of violence or victim-offender relationship (Langton & Truman, 2014).

Subsequently, it’s important for nurses to be aware of the foundational facets relative to these criminal activities and related psychosocial impact toward prevention efforts and the ability to conduct targeted yet sensitive assessments and determine appropriate interventions toward adaptive coping and mental health in survivors (Clements et al., 2015; International Association ...

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