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Managing the Victim Dimension of Large-Scale Disasters

ABSTRACT: The most volatile component of all crisis response is victim management.
Failure to promptly, humanely, and empathetically see that victims’ needs are met will
eclipse an organization’s response, and even a flawless response will be remembered
for its angry survivors, relatives, public officials, sometimes competitors, but almost
always the critics. The two most crucial ingredients of crisis management are effective
and accurate communication and then prompt resolution of the issues surrounding vic-
tims. This paper familiarizes and sensitizes technical expert readers with the extraordi-
nary impact and emotional power victims bring to any crisis situation. Some important
techniques and approaches are discussed, including the nature and causes of victimiza-
tion and why victims have so much power; the behavior of management and its advisers
that triggers, initiates, or prolongs victimization; what victims feel and why they tend to
act and remain so upset; and what victims need – validation, visibility, vindication, and
extreme empathy/apology- along with constructive strategies that can resolve these
different situations quickly and often avoid litigation.

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