IV. For victims: taking care of yourself

Victims often experience strong emotions related to both the crime and to the accused, who is now also a patient. It is normal to experience intense emotions following victimization. It is important to recognize the emotions and to get support if you don’t feel you can cope with them.

It can be hard to find time to deal with your emotions because, as a victim, you must also deal with matters relating to the crime as well as the demands of day-to-day life. Activities such as organizing a funeral, undergoing medical treatments, or even just preparing statements for police, the courts or insurance can be draining experiences. Such activities may compound the hardships experienced in the aftermath of victimization and prolong and complicate the emotions that you are feeling in relation to what happened. The involvement with the Review Board process may add an additional layer of complexity to this experience.

As a victim, it is important to take care of yourself and other family members who may be affected by the crime. This may mean that you require outside help. Getting support from a professional may be necessary and offer balance to your own personal support network of friends and family. You can also seek counselling through victim services and community-based agencies in your area or ask your family physician for advice and support through these difficult times.

My name is Donna McCully.

It was always our wish to live in Jamaica in our dream home. So, in August 2012, my husband Sedrick Levine and I left Canada to move into our new home. We were thrilled to finally be starting the next chapter in our lives, in Sedrick’s beloved homeland. He bought a little bus and planned to operate tours for visitors to the island. I was helping him run this business venture, as part of our semi- retirement in Jamaica.

My life as I knew it was suddenly shattered when two masked men broke into our home on Sunday, November 17, 2013. Sedrick struggled with the men, allowing me to flee upstairs to call the police. His actions saved my life that day, and that of my father and his housekeeper, who were visiting us at the time. One of the masked intruders chased me upstairs and kicked in the bathroom door, but he stopped when he heard a gunshot from downstairs.

My husband Sedrick was killed that day and the men fled our home with a laptop. The Jamaican police have not yet found these men or charged them with killing my beloved husband. Their motive remains unknown.

This crime has completely changed my life. I suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder now and have depression as a result. I came back to Canada, but I feel very isolated since this happened. These emotional scars may never heal.

I managed to find the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime by searching online one day. I didn’t know where to turn for help when I came home to Canada. The CRCVC has provided me with a lot of emotional support, which has been tremendously helpful. They’ve also written numerous letters to Jamaican officials seeking justice for Sedrick, as well as intervening with Canadian officials on my behalf. The office also helped connect me to a trauma therapist for counselling sessions too.

In order to try and make sense of what happened to Sedrick, it is my hope that others could support the work of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. There are so many other victims/survivors out there who also need their assistance.