Being a victim of a crime is frightening for the millions of Americans who unfortunately experience it each year. Victims and survivors of crime have transformed their victimization into a vehicle for ensuring that victims of crime receive justice, meaningful assistance, and compassionate treatment.
Did you know?
- Most violent and property crimes in the U.S. are not reported to police, and most of the crimes that are reported go unsolved (Pew Research).
- In 2019, aggravated assault was most likely to be reported to law enforcement (52.1%) followed by robbery (46.6%), simple assault (37.9%) and rape/sexual assault (33.9%) (Pew Research).
- In 2019 there was a 6% increase in the number of murders committed in Texas compared to 2018 (Department of Public Safety).
- There has been a 35% increase in Houston homicides in 2021 compared to 2020 (Houston Police Department).
Victim Services Safety Awareness Tips
Consejos de Seguridad de Servicios para Víctimas
Know Your Rights
You have a 1 in 239 chances of becoming a victim of violent crimes and 1 in 42 chances for property crimes in Texas (Neighborhood Scout). If you become a victim of a crime understanding your rights and how to navigate the criminal justice system is crucial. Any victim of crime in Texas has the right to:
- Be notified of all court proceedings including cancellation and rescheduling.
- Receive information about the Texas Crime Victim Compensation Fund that provides financial assistance to victims of violent crimes.
- Have the magistrate take the safety of the victim or their family into consideration as an element in fixing the amount of bail for the accused.
- Collect information about procedures in the criminal investigation of your case by law enforcement officials, and about general procedures in the criminal justice system, including plea bargaining, restitution, appeals and parole from the prosecutor’s office.
- Complete a Victim Impact Statement, detailing the emotional, physical, and financial impact that the crime has had on you and your family, and to have that statement considered by the judge at sentencing and by the parole board.
Visas for Victims
If you are a nonnative who has been a victim of crime in the U.S. resulting in mental and physical abuse, you can be eligible for U nonimmigrant status to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Victims must possess information regarding criminal activity and law enforcement agencies must certify that a victim has been, is being, and/or is likely to aid in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. For more information, click here.
Remaining vigilant in every setting is pivotal to preventing victimization and defending yourself when necessary. Consider the following:
- Practice Situational Awareness: Situational awareness mitigates victimization opportunities by allowing you to recognize terroristic threats, identify criminal behavior and avoid other dangerous situations.
- Communication is Key: Use your cell phone as a tool to help and not as a distraction. Inform your loved ones about your whereabouts if you’re traveling alone, ridesharing, and/or meeting someone you have never met before.
- Utilize Security Systems: Burglars are deterred by security systems and cameras. Prominently display signs that say you have a security system and make them visible from the street.
- Fight Back: Learn simple self-defense techniques and do not be afraid to fight back. Practice yelling things like “STOP” and “GET BACK”. Always have a personal safety tool with you and practice using it.
The mission of Crime Stoppers of Houston’s Victim Services and Advocacy Program is to promote safety, healing, justice and rights for crime victims and survivors. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a crime and/or want to assist crime victims, consider participating in our events listed below. For further information contact our Director of Victim Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents of Murdered Children’s Meetings
If you are a parent who lost a child and/or children to violence, join a supportive network of parents who meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month in our headquarters that share ongoing emotional support, education, prevention, advocacy, and awareness.
National Day of Remembrance
September 25th is the designated National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. On this day, families and loved ones remember those who were lost to homicide and honor their memories. If you would like to submit a video displaying the years of life of your loved one, please email email@example.com and provide a name and pictures remembering your loved one.
Remembrance Tree Ceremony
On December 11th from 1-3PM ornaments remembering murdered victims are placed on a Christmas tree by Crime Stoppers of Houston staff. This event is open to family members and loved ones of murder victims. Law enforcement, victim service agencies, and community members are invited to attend.
Where to Report
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911
- Report anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477)
Partners & Resources
- Houston Police Victim Services Department: 713-308-0080
- Harris County District Attorney’s Office Victim Services Division: 713-274-0250
- Harris County Sheriff’s Office Crime Victim’s Assistance Unit: 713-274-9369
- Texas Attorney General Crime Victims Compensation Program: 800-983-9933