Victims of violent or sexual crimes are being ‘re-traumatised’ while going through the government's process of claiming compensation, a review has said.

They are being unnecessarily made to repeat traumatic details of what has happened to them during applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), a report by Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Newlove revealed.

The financial support they are applying for can often help them access counselling.

However, as part of the application process they have to give details of the crimes against them, even though CICA also applies to the police for the full copy of the victim’s statement which contains this information.

Applicants also face delays, uncertainty and poor communication during the process, the review found.

It said nearly 40% of victims felt the need to turn to a third party to pursue their claim because of the distress caused by the process or the sheer complexity of the application.

Emotional distress

CICA has said it welcomes the review and would be considering the findings.

Justin Havens, a BACP member and psychological therapist who specialises in trauma, said:

“The issue here is people having to revisit details of what happened to them during a distressing event and that this process can bring it back and create emotional distress. Surely a more appropriate way would be to ask them to confirm if the details provided to police are accurate.

“People tend not to be treatment-seeking when it comes to trauma. It’s a common response that people don’t want talk about their experience. They want to shut it out.

Healthy environment

“Yes, in therapy they will be talking about their experience – but it will be within a healthy environment, with boundaries, and it should be with a counsellor who is a specialist in trauma.

“The thing with these compensation applications is that people may just be sitting at their kitchen table filling in forms or taking a telephone call and may be confronted again by the full horror of what they’ve been through again, without those boundaries or support in place.

“Trauma is treatable. With the correct techniques people can get through this and come out the other side.  If a person has already had therapy to help resolve their feelings about the trauma, they won’t be triggered by this process. But on the flip side they may need the money for that treatment by going through this process.”

Recognise emotional needs

Baroness Newlove said:

“My review shows that the process of making their claim, which should strengthen victims, can have the opposite effect. The process of claiming is often having a detrimental impact on their wellbeing. I worry that we are treating it as a tick box exercise, without recognising the emotional needs of those making claims.”

To find a therapist to talk about issues such as trauma see our therapist directory.