A 2004 Statistics Canada General Social Survey reported that after a crime has occurred, 32% of victims experienced anger, 20% confusion, 18% fear and 12% disbelief. All these reactions, especially if they are prolonged, can seriously diminish an individual's quality of life.
Victims have also indicated that after a crisis has occurred:
- 47% would like someone to talk to
- 33% would like someone to stay with them to feel more protected
- 18% would like advice on getting help
- 16% have concerns regarding their children
- 13% would like emergency transportation
- 9% would like emergency financial assistance
Individuals who have been victimized often turn to family or friends for help, but this is not always the case. In the Drumheller area for example, many visitors, seasonal workers and long term residents cannot readily access these traditional forms of support. This results in many victims being left to deal with their situation alone. It is the belief of the Big Country Victim Services that with early intervention and support, the impact of problems associated with crime and tragedy can be greatly reduced.
The criminal justice system has traditionally devoted significant time and energy to dealing with offenders but not victims. Over the years, few resources have been available to assist victims of crime and trauma, creating a significant imbalance. Through the provision of support, information and assistance, victim service programs help address this imbalance.
In 1996, the Alberta Victims of Crime Act was passed, strengthening existing legislation regarding the rights and entitlements of victims in this province.
In 2007 a Victims of Crime Protocol was developed by the Alberta government to let victim’s know what they can expect from the criminal justice system.
As of August 2011, there were 126 police-based victim services units in Alberta. Many similar programs also exist throughout Canada, with this Alberta network being the most extensive, assisting over 60,000 individuals annually.