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How Can I Help?

After a bank robbery one of the most frequently asked questions by co-workers, customers, family and friends is: "How can I help?"After the interviews with the police and FBI, the employees directly involved in the robbery are initially in the shock stage of recovery.It is very important that the victims receive the support, understanding and acceptance necessary to expedite the process of recovery and the return to their job responsibilities.

At the appropriate time, many employees experiencing a bank robbery will want to talk about the incidentand their feelings.The expression of their confusion, pain and frustrations is very important to their recovery.The family-like relationships often found within the banking offices can provide the comfort and support needed by the victims.The interpersonal communication that existed within the office before the robbery can provide some of the support necessary for working through the stages of recovery.In addition to the work-group support system, there are the family and community support systems. Each group plays an important role in returning the victims to their job responsibilities.

Following a bank robbery there is much confusion by the other members of the bank staff, the bank's customers and the family members of the victims as to what to say or what to do for the primary victims.Just as there is no "right way" to feel after a bank robbery, there is no "right way" to respond to the victims of robbery. Each situation is different and the responding characteristics of each support group will be different.There are, however, some effective fundamentals that each support group can utilize to provide the necessary support for the victims.

  • Recognize that recovery from the robbery is a process and will take time
  • Remember how each victim responds to the robbery will be different
  • Encourage the victims to talk but let them select the time and place
  • Realize that your presence is sometimes all that is needed.
  • Don't feel compelled to produce a reason or justification for what has happened.
  • Acknowledge the victim's feelings without judgment
  • Affirm the normalcy of the process of recovery and their role in the process
  • Assure the victims that they are not alone - voiced support is critical
  • Offer assistance - be as specific as possible, i.e. can I drive you home?
  • Don't trivialize the incident or the victims' role in the robbery
  • Promote the use of "self-talk" in response to negative feelings
  • Help the victims identify feelings resulting from the incident
LISTEN - LISTEN - LISTEN - LISTEN - LISTEN - LISTEN

This information was provided by Lawrence Brock.During a long career of service to the banking industry, Brock pioneered a service called Transitions & Trauma to provide counseling and assistance to financial institutions and their employees in the event of a robbery or other critical incident.Currently, Lawrence Brock serves as Director, Senior Adulty Ministry, First United Method Church, Topeka, KS. He may be contacted at (785) 272-2490 or via email at insight@attglobal.net.

First published on 01/01/2003

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