As we stated previously, not all crises involve danger, but if a person is in imminent jeopardy, you should put everything else on hold until they are safe. If you aren't in the presence of the victim where you can assess their physical well-being, the best way to determine if they are harmed or at risk of being harmed is to ask, "Are you safe right now?" [source: NOVA].
Gauging the level of danger a friend or family member is in is crucial to understanding their level of stress [source: Marling]. The goal of this step is ensuring that a person is not only safe, but also "feels" safe. If a person is hungry, thirsty or cold, providing them with food, drink and warmth takes care of their physical needs. But whether they actually "feel" safe and secure is the opinion of the victim. For example, if a person's been rescued after an earthquake, but you're talking to them in a building with a large crack in the wall, they may not actually feel safe.
Victims can feel insecure for a number of reasons, including when they're:
- physically uncomfortable, such as hungry, thirsty or cold
- still in the location where the trauma took place
- within view of their attacker
- waiting to clean themselves up after a violent incident
- still nervous about the possibility of being attacked again
Again, always ask questions and respond to victims without judgment or frustration.