Each year during the month of May, individuals and organizations join the national movement to raise awareness about mental health.  By raising awareness, we can fight the stigma, provide support, and educate the public.

Effect of crime on mental health

Victimization can be a difficult and stressful experience. Getting back to normal after a crime can cause depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is the most common anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic or life-threatening event, such as domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, or murder of a loved one.

Victims’ mental health during legal intervention

After a crime, the victim has the option to seek justice and protection. The legal system offers a surplus of major benefits for crime victims, but navigating the legal system in search of justice can also expose them to recurring triggers.  These triggers can make them relive their trauma all over again, further affecting their mental health. The process can also take a long time causing frustration,  causing unwanted stress for the survivor. 

Lone Star Legal Aid’s Crime Victims Unit provides legal assistance to victims of crime for a wide range of civil legal issues. The unit can help survivors of crimes including (but not limited to) the following:

We can help if you’ve been a victim of:

  • Human trafficking;
  • Domestic violence,
  • Homicide;
  • Emotional abuse;
  • Robbery;
  • Physical abuse;
  • Assault;
  • Identity Theft;
  • Neglect;
  • Elder Abuse;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Stalking;
  • Bullying;
  • Arson;
  • Sexual Abuse;
  • Burglary;
  • Fraud;
  • Theft;
  • Cyber crimes; and
  • Vandalism.

In addition to its legal staff, Lone Star Legal Aid’s Crime Victims Unit has two social workers who help remove social, emotional, and psychological barriers for clients who are victims of crime.  “I have specifically worked on case management, offered emotional support to clients during mediation and also assisted attorneys and clients during trial prep. Furthermore, there are times when I have worked with clients who have deemed to not actually have a legal need, but have issues that purposely require social worker intervention instead,” said Ashleigh Cormier, a social worker in the Crime Victims Unit.

Ideas for a healthy mind

The current COVID-19 health crisis is adding on stress to many people around the world who are in lockdown and isolation. If you are a crime victim or just an individual facing the hardships of quarantine, you are not alone in the way you feel. One in five adults or 10 million people in the United States are living with a mental health illness. Here are ways to stay on top of your mental health:

  • Connect: Reach out to friends and family especially now during the health pandemic. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it is proven that human interaction can lower anxiety, depression and help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy.
  • Be active: Exercise has been linked to improved mental health and cognitive function.
  • Take notice: Observe your feelings and other’s feelings to help you respond better to what you are facing.
  • Give: Whether you are being charitable or surprising a friend or family member with something they love, you are stimulating healthier brain. Giving is proved to make people feel happy and it increases self-worth.
  • Keep learning: Educate yourself. It affects how we think, feel and act.It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to other and make healthy choices.

Refer to our previous blog post: Life After Trauma for more in depth information on what happens to the brain after a crime victim faces a traumatic experience.

If you or a loved one are experiencing abuse and need assistance, self-help resources are available via www.texaslawhelp.org.  If you or a loved one are in need of an attorney or would like to explore other resources, you can utilize if they are being abused, you can visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org.