Victims of crime mostly find themselves being stigmatized, separated out, pitied upon or shamed, and ultimately abandoned or isolated from the mainstream society. This isolation and feeling of loneliness, lack of social support increases the impact of crime on the victim and makes them feel weak and helpless.
At DISHA we experimented with gathering victims of same / similar offence going through similar situations at one place and share their thoughts and feelings. And it worked to help feel supported from their peers, they take this opportunity to share their sorrows and support each other and show each other a ray of hope. They find it that even their relatives cannot understand their situation as much as these peers do. The level of trust, support and hope increases for them with such support groups, and so DISHA continues this activity.
We generally conduct support groups on quarterly basis and try to have different yet relevant themes for each session, sometimes we also invite some other resource person to facilitate or guide the group on certain topic. We have also invited stakeholders of Criminal Justice System like DCP and DySP, and District Women and Child Development Officer to hold a direct interaction between the key stakeholder and the ‘organized group of victims’.
Also the rehabilitated victims or those victims who have gone few steps ahead in process of rehabilitationare best examples for other victims and creates a sense of hope and belongingness in them amidst the helplessness and isolation experienced by them in routine life. DISHA look at the rehabilitated victim as source of hope, a guidance and social support / peer support for other victims with opportunities of deeper and strong bonding and so invites them in the support groups of new beneficiaries as well.
They take this opportunity for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and feel a sense of community. These small meetings and sessions help to build confidence of individual victim and are facilitated to explore relevant information, sharing of personal experiences, listening to and accepting others’ experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing a network. These theme based support groupsare also targeted at the level of crime prevention to reduce re-victimization.