A reader has asked if there are any support services for parents of murdered children. Does anyone know any online support groups for this particular group? Please get in touch if you do, so we can update this page.
But back to the question, which is a very poignant one, since this is surely the hardest club to become a member of.
Online support groups would be useful in this space. Members can come together even though from distant places. Of course, the more diverse the places, the more different their cultural context. But this is one of those situations where that doesn’t matter as much as creating links with people who understand exactly what you are going through.
Dutch researcher Anton van Wijk describes the family and close ones left behind when someone is murdered as ‘co-victims’.
His 2016 study looked at the experience of 28 ‘co-victims’ and found their problems are serious and long term, and that the psychological issues are worse for them than those who’ve experienced other types of crimes.
- They are more susceptible to protracted and complicated grief.
- They have a higher risk of depression.
- They suffer a profound loss of self, which includes permanent loss of future, ‘violating devastation’, feeling like a different person now, loss of control and loss of innocence.
- They are likely to feel anger, not just against the perpetrator but against the world.
- They experience repeated intrusive images, nightmares, overwhelming feelings of anger and rage, fear, excessive alertness and guilt.
With this level of psychological distress ‘co-victims’ need as much support as we can give them.
Those grieving over or with an unresolved missing persons case have different issues but with similar complexity. They need support too. You can read more to help this group at: https://good-grief.com.au/holding-on-to-hope/
In Australia, it’s a sobering reality that most murder victims will have been killed by someone they know. The late Rebecca Poulson, who sadly died of breast cancer in 2021, was an advocate for preventing child homicide, after her brother-in-law killed his two children, her niece and nephew, as well as their grandfather, her father. When interviewed for A Good Death published in 2019, she said then that 85 per cent of child homicides in Australia are carried out by a parent.
Since then the spotlight has been shone on domestic violence but still such incidents occur.
For those who are living with domestic violence and need help, please ring 1800Respect on
1800 737 732.
They have an online chat service which you can find at https://www.1800respect.org.au/contact-us
You can also read our article on domestic violence at: https://good-grief.com.au/domestic-violence-jess-hill-explains-coercive-control/
Not every murder is at the hands of a parent. American Maya Roffler started her Surviving Siblings Podcast to help herself come to terms with the murder of her brother Andreas and to help others after she realised there was little support for siblings. The Surviving Siblings Podcast can be found here. https://www.thesurvivingsiblings.com/
For readers in the USA
One of Maya’s supporters is Nicky Wise, who runs the support site Saitada which lists a set of services across the USA for those who are grieving – including Homicide/Violent Loss Support a page which links through to an extensive list of support services for those who’ve experienced homicide or violent loss.
This includes Circles of Comfort, which provides support and advocacy for homicide survivors.
This in turn lists resources in each of the 50 American states and then national ones, including Parents of Murdered Children.
For readers in the UK
In the UK, Advocates for the Victims of Homicide, AdVIC provides advocacy and counselling.
They note that: “Many families reported that their trauma was exacerbated by the fact that they did not know their rights, or understand the system in which they found themselves. In setting up AdVIC, one of our objectives was to help families’ access relevant information. We at AdVIC have tried to collate as much of this information as possible in one location, on this website.”
Look here for more information about their counselling services.
For Australian readers in NSW
The NSW Government’s Victims Services website, provides Counselling services at https://victimsservices.justice.nsw.gov.au/victims-services/how-can-we-help-you/victims-support-scheme/counselling.html
The Homicide Victims Support Group is a valuable resource.
Founded in June 1993, the Group was established when the parents of Anita Cobby and Ebony Simpson, who had both been murdered, were introduced to each other. They recognised the very real need to set up an organisation which could offer counselling, support and information to families and friends of homicide victims throughout NSW.
Grace’s Place is an Australian resource, based in Sydney NSW, designed to provide support for children affected by homicide.
For Australian readers in Western Australia
Angelhands is based in Perth, Western Australia and was started by Ann O’Neill whose two children were murdered in an incident where her perpetrator also tried to murder her.