Co-victims of Homicide: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2015 Oct;16(4):494-505. doi: 10.1177/1524838014557285. Epub 2014 Nov 4.


This systematic literature review examines the effects of homicide on surviving family members, the "co-victims" or "survivors" of homicide. A content analysis was conducted on 40 articles identified through a search of the literature. The research samples were predominately located in the United States, but included two U.K. samples, one Jamaican sample, and one sample from Israel. All articles were written in English. Three themes were identified. Nineteen articles explored the psychological, academic, social, occupational, and familial effects of homicide. Thirteen articles considered survivors' grieving process and how it was altered by experiences with the criminal justice system as well as coping strategies used by survivors to deal with their grief. Eight articles explored treatment interventions available to help surviving family members deal with their grief. Key findings from the articles, limitations of the current research, and implications for future research, policy, and practice are included.

Keywords: co-victims; coping; criminal justice system; family; grief; homicide; murder; survivors; treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Bereavement*
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Homicide / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spiritualism
  • Survivors / psychology*