Sources of support for African American family members of homicide victims
The rates of homicide within the African-American community indicate a population overwhelmingly impacted by traumatic grief and loss. A qualitative study was conducted to: (1) discover the support networks that are utilized by African-American family members who are surviving the homicide of a loved one; (2) gain insight relative to understanding the post-homicide experience of African-American surviving family members. A purposive sample of five African-American survivors participated in a semi-structured interview. Findings indicated that the informal social support provided by immediate and extended family, fictive kin and friends was the primary source of support that was used to cope with the homicide of their loved ones. However, respondents indicated a need to incorporate formal social support systems (e.g., therapeutic interventions) to help them cope with their grief. Respondents identified distrust of clinical and research institutions, fear of stigmatization, and level of comfort with clinicians, as potential barriers to seeking support for African-American family members who are surviving the homicide of a loved one. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.