3 Steps to Take When You Are the Victim of a Hate Crime

Have you been the victim of a hate crime? It's important to understand your rights and how to move forward.

When you hear the term "hate crime," it's easy to think that the word hater refers to anger; however, this isn't always accurate. Justice.gov explains that "hate" means a demonstrated "bias against people or groups with specific characteristics that are defined by the law" (see resources). Each year, thousands of hate crimes are committed against other people on the basis of sexual orientation, race, or disability. Hate crimes may range in severity and intensity. If you are the victim of a hate crime and you're wondering whether there is any hope for moving forward, rest assured that you aren't alone and you do have options.

1. Seek help immediately.

Make sure you seek medical care as soon as possible. If you were physically attacked or harmed, your first step should always be to seek medical treatment for yourself and anyone else who was injured during the attack. Make sure you explain what happened to your medical providers so they can provide you with prompt treatment. It's important that you are as detailed as possible when discussing the circumstances surrounding the crime. In addition to helping you receive the appropriate medical treatment, talking with your care provider will also help start a legal paper trail that can be used should you go to court at any point.

2. File a police report.

It's imperative that you file a police report. Hate crimes are very serious. According to The Human Rights Campaign, it's important that you not only file a police report, but that you keep a copy of the report for your own records. The responding officer should provide you with their name and badge number, as well. Make sure you save all of the documentation you receive to demonstrate that you filed a report regarding the incident that occurred. While talking about the hate crime can be emotionally difficult, make sure you give as many details as possible when you file the report.

3. Seek counseling.

Facing a hate crime is an emotionally traumatic experience, which means you may need to talk with a therapist or counselor who can guide you during this time. Don't be afraid to reach out and seek help when dealing with this type of experience. The right therapist can help you work through your feelings and emotions during this time. Therapy can be quite beneficial when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety surrounding the crime.

Your attorney understands that a hate crime can change your life. Once you've been the victim of a crime based on your sexual orientation, race, religion, or even your disability, you may struggle to understand what your legal options are for seeking restitution. Fortunately, your lawyer can help guide you and assist you with understanding your legal options and obligations during this time. Call for a consultation as soon as you can to talk with your lawyer about what your next steps should be.