Fighting hate: What to do if you are a victim of a hate crime
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Hate crimes are despicable, and in this day and age it seems ridiculous that they still occur, but what do you do if you find yourself the target of one?
Hate crimes have been occurring for years, but over the last year our news feed seems to be especially filled with coverage on them.
The reason for this is simple, recent events have emboldened the most intolerant of our fellow citizens and led to an increase in hate crimes throughout the west, especially in the US and UK.
Since the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the election in the US hate crimes have spiked considerably. According to The Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents in the US jumped 86% in the first quarter of 2017 compared with last year. Meanwhile, CAIR reported a 91% jump in hate crimes directed at Muslims for the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
In the United Kingdom police have seen hate crimes spike several times, most notably after the Brexit referendum in 2016, where more than 14,000 hate crimes were reported between July and September. Hate crimes also spiked considerably after recent terror attacks, especially the London Bridge Attack, which led to a fivefold increase in hate crimes against the Muslim community.
People with disabilities have also found themselves victim to more hate crimes, which have increased by 216% in the last year.
Bearing this in mind, especially as things begin to unravel once more in the US and Charlottesville becomes the battleground for racial tolerance, it felt essential to highlight some key advice on how to act if you are a target of a hate crime.
1. Report the incident
This may seem obvious but victims of hate crimes can sometimes feel too afraid or embarrassed to do so. However not reporting a hate crime can be dangerous, as it allows the perpetrators to get away with their actions and can invite further attacks.
There are many ways which you can go about reporting a hate crime. Firstly you can call the police, though if you do so you are recommended to ask for the name and number of the officer you speak to and make a note of the time that you reported the incident. Secondly, you can contact a Hate Incident Reporting Centre or contact the Stop Hate Line, which is a 24-hour helpline.
If you do not feel comfortable contacting any of these services you can always speak to those close to you or ask for advice from a teacher, mental health worker or community leader.
2. Note relevant details of the attack
Immediately following the incident you are recommended to make a note of the attack, including as many details as you can remember. These should include the date and time of the attack, physical descriptions and names (if known) of the people involved and any other discerning details.
3. Look for witnesses
Following the attack look around for witnesses and approach them to see if they will give you their details, including their name, address and phone number. If possible also get them to write a statement and sign it, as this makes your case stronger.
4. Don’t move evidence
Make sure you keep the scene as it was during the attack. Don’t move anything away as doing so could destroy evidence and hinder attempts to bring those responsible to justice.
5. Seek medical attention if needed
If you have been injured in the attack you should ensure you see a doctor or go to the hospital. The police recommend taking photos of any injuries, which you can then show to them as evidence.
6. Photograph damage to property
The police also recommend asking an officer to take photos of any damage to your property, or doing so yourself, as these photos can also be used as evidence.
7. Keep a record of expenses
Keep a record of any expenses incurred, such as loss of earnings because you could not work or cost of public transport to a hospital, as you might be able to claim compensation.
8. Be aware of how you are feeling afterwards
Make sure you are ok, both physically and emotionally, as there may be emotional trauma of which you are not yet aware. Surround yourself with friends and family and ensure you have a support group around you. Educate yourself on local helplines and mental health services and don’t feel ashamed to reach out for help if you need it.
9. Don’t blame yourself
It can be easy to blame yourself, looking back and trying to see what you did to cause the situation, however you should not do so. The only person to blame is the hateful being who attacked you, as no matter the situation such behaviour is inexcusable.
You should never feel ashamed of who you are, and if being who you are upsets other people then that is their problem, not yours!