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Assisting Targets – Victims and Community Support

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Assisting Targets – Victims and Community Support


Populations impacted by Hate Crime and incidents

All of us are diminished by hate activity, whether as victims, survivors or community members. The insidious nature of this type of behaviour creates a climate of fear that moves beyond the individual targeted to encompass the whole community. At risk populations for victimization include marginalized and vulnerable populations such as Aboriginal peoples; persons with physical, mental or developmental disabilities; persons who are gay, lesbian, transgendered or bisexual; members of racialized communities; and women. Perpetrators and victims alike are often young people.


Understanding Impact on Communities

Hate crimes are often called "message crimes," because of the impact that they have on members of an entire community. For example, when a hate crime occurs a community may experience:


         Feelings of victimization projected to an entire community,

         Sense of group or community vulnerability

        Community fear/tension

         Community reactive crime

         Copycat incidents

         Community polarization

         Loss of trust in Police, and/or

         Heightened security concerns at schools, churches, and private homes.


Dauvergne, Scrim, and Brennan (2008) found that 40% of victims of hate crime incidents in the General Social Survey found it “difficult or impossible to carry out their daily activities compared with 23% of victims of non-hate crimes. Violent hate crime incidents were also more likely to result in victims feeling fearful and unsafe in their communities (p. 16). And yet, hate crime goes largely unreported leaving communities feeling vulnerable.


Videos: Disability Hate Crime




How can the Community Assist?




Provide Victim Support


Some good ideas for documentation and police response


Alberta Police Based Victim Services Association with contact information across the province (


Victim information, support and information on hate crimes at Victims of Violence 


Work with Law Enforcement

Local police are there to assist, counsel, investigate, provide support and referral. Working with them helps educate both community and police about community needs and the law.

Some good ideas for establishing a partnership from Poland

Other good examples of community and policing partnerships are the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee, the Edmonton Chief's Advisory Council, The Calgary Police Service Diversity Resources Team

Respond Effectively

What to do when Nazis come to town – Local Responses 

Responding to Hate crime and Groups (Calgary)

Heal the Community

Strengthen Individual Knowledge and Skills

Programs and practices which are directed to specific individuals at risk, encouraging them to change their behavior


Promote Community EducationThe goal to community education is to reach the greatest number of people possible and to build a critical mass of people who support the message. Community education aims to change behavior. Mass media reaches the broadest community.

Police-based victim service units are available to deliver services to victims of crime throughout Alberta.  They operate out of police facilities and deliver ongoing, frontline services to victims of crime that includes providing information about available programs and services, updates on the status of court cases, court preparation and court accompaniment. 

For more information on police-based victim service units, please visit:

If the victim requires additional help navigating through the complex criminal justice system, they can obtain a copy of the Victims of Crime Protocol by visiting the Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security website at This booklet explains what victims can expect throughout the criminal justice process.  A copy can also be obtained through the local Victim ServicesUnit.





Heal the

Community – Cont.’


Educate Providers

This strategy reaches an influential group of individuals who have daily contact with large numbers of at-risk people. These professionals and community activists who work in health and other community services become advocates of prevention. Providers also contribute to community education, change policies within their institutions and advocate for legislation. These include health care workers, political, police/justice, religious, civic and other community leaders can advocate for prevention.


Foster Coalitions and Networks

Community organizations, policymakers, businesses, health providers and criminal justice professionals need to work together to conduct more broad-based efforts in the community. Joint planning and coordination allows for system-wide problem-solving, and leads to successes that and individual program can not achieve alone. Programs share ownership, build skills and avoid duplication


Change Organizational Practices

By changing its own policies, an organization can affect the safety of its members and influence the community as a whole.


Influence Policy and Legislation

Legislation and policy initiatives represent the possibility for the strongest and broadest changes to the environment that contributes to violence. Both formal and informal policies affect large numbers of people, by improving the safety of the environments in which they live and work and by encouraging them to change their behavior.


Not in Our Town: Light in the Darkness video


A Community Response to a 9/11 Hate Crime:

Restorative Justice Through Dialogue 


What do I do if I’m targeted by hate?


Make sure you are safe. Get to a safe location such as a public place, a police station or a friend’s home to secure yourself against further harm. To practice ongoing safety: walk with friends when going places; walk in well-lit areas at night where there are people around; and make sure your phone number isn’t listed publicly. You may also consider filing for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

Get medical attention if necessary. If you need immediate assistance, call 911. We encourage you go to a hospital and receive medical attention as soon as possible if you have been a victim of a physical attack, including sexual assault, as it is possible that the doctor may discover injuries that are not visible.

Preserve evidence. Collecting evidence can help you build a case this can mean: taking photographs; saving written or electronic messages; recording threatening voicemails; not showering after sexual assault (showering washes away evidence); keeping soiled clothes in a plastic sealable bag; keeping a journal of the dates and times of events; etc.

Take care of yourself. Talk to a friend, family member, or someone you trust; write in a journal; practice art or music; engage in a spiritual or religious practice; or take care of your body through exercise, rest and good nutrition.


Report the incident. It is important to report the incident even if you decide to not press charges because it can help the police build a file on the accused, which helps prevent the assault from happening to someone else. It will inform the police about the prevalence of hate crimes and hate-motivated acts in your community.

Consider contacting a counsellor. To help you process you deal with the effects of being a survivor or witness of a hate crime. Having someone to talk to who understands can be a valuable resource and aid healing.

Do not blame yourself.You do not, and did not, deserve to be targeted.


For youth who have been victimized, you can call Kids Help Phone, Kids Help Phone is a free, anonymous and confidential phone and on line professional counselling service for youth. Big or small concerns 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 365 days a year.