WHEN I BECOME A VICTIM OF A CRIME

 


What are the likely psychological and physical consequences?
How can I deal with these consequences alone?
How can my friends and relatives help?
What can I expect from the police?
Where else can I go for help?

A crime represents, for victims, a very stressful event that can shatter their personal equilibrium and their feeling of security and trust. Victims frequently face different psychological and social consequences of the crime that can remain with them long after the physical wounds have healed. Frequently, the consequences of such trauma are feelings of fear, anger, sadness, helplessness, isolation, feelings of guilt... Long-term physical and psychological disorders may also appear.


A crime can change individuals' perception of themselves and their environment, in which they felt safe before and in harmony with themselves and others. Such feelings may also be experiences by a victim's relatives and friends.

 

A CRIME, SUCH AS BODILY HARM, RAPE, ROBBERY, ATTEMPTED MURDER OR BURGLARY, BLACKMAIL, THEFT OR OTHER, ALWAYS REPRESENT FOR A VICTIM AN INTRUSION INTO THEIR PERSONAL INTEGRITY AND PRIVACY.

 

What are the possible physical and psychological consequences for victims of a crime?


The consequences of highly stressful events, such as some criminal offences, can be very different. They depend on the nature and duration of the crime, on the victim and on other circumstances.

 

Possible consequences of criminal offences:

  • SHOCK
  • FEAR
  • INTENSE AGITATION
  • REEXPERIENCING THE TRAUMA (intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashback episodes)
  • FEELING OF "LOSING MY MIND", "BEING IN A HAZE", UNREALITY
  • IMPATIENCE, IRRITATION, ANGRY OUTBURSTS
  • DENIAL ("it isn't true", "it can't be possible")
  • AVOIDING (places, thoughts, people, activities reminding of the event)
  • SHUTTING OFF
  • FEELINGS OF LONELINESS (a feeling that you lost any contact with others)
  • EMOTIONAL NUMBNESS
  • FEELINGS OF HELPLESSNESS, DESPAIR, INSECURITY, DREAD
  • ANGER
  • FEELINGS OF GUILT, SHAME
  • SADNESS, DEPRESSION
  • NEGATIVE SELF-IMAGE
  • NEGATIVE PICTURE OF THE WORLD, THE ENVIRONMENT
  • PROBLEMS IN INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS
  • SEXUAL PROBLEMS
  • PARTNERSHIP PROBLEMS
  • CONCENTRATION PROBLEMS, NARROW ATTENTIONAL FOCUS
  • EATING DISORDERS
  • SLEEPING DISORDERS
  • LOW WORK PRODUCTIVITY AND EFFICIENCY
  • LOSS OF INTERESTS
  • CONFUSION, DISORIENTATION
  • PROBLEMS IN MAKING DECISIONS
  • FORGETFULNESS
  • FEELING OF HAVING NO CONTROL
  • ABUSE OF ALCOHOL AND OTHER SUBSTANCES
  • INCREASED HEART RATE
  • HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
  • BREATHING DIFFICULTIES
  • CHEST PAIN
  • MUSCULAR TENSION AND PAIN
  • FATIGUE
  • FAINTING
  • FEVER
  • INCREASED PERSPIRATION
  • THIRST
  • VERTIGO
  • HEADACHE

 

Remember:

WHAT YOU'RE EXPERIENCING IS NORMAL REACTION TO AN ABNORMAL SITUATION.

YOU HAVEN'T LOST YOUR MIND!

 


Possible consequences of criminal offences in children:

  • BEHAVIOURAL REGRESSION (bedwetting, thumb sucking, clinging to parents, crying)
  • INCREASED FEAR, ANXIETY (fear of darkness, fear of being alone)
  • SADNESS
  • CLINGING TO PARENTS, PROBLEMS WHEN PARTING FROM PARENTS
  • IRRITABILITY, IMPATIENCE
  • AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR (towards other people, toys, animals)
  • DEFIANT BEHAVIOUR
  • SOCIAL ISOLATION (retreat into their own world)
  • SLEEP DISORDERS (nightmares)
  • LOSS OF OR INCREASE IN APPETITE
  • PHYSICAL PROBLEMS, PAINS (headache, stomach ache)
  • CONFUSION
  • POOR LEARNING EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS
  • CONCENTRATION PROBLEMS
  • LOSS OF INTERESTS
  • BEHAVIOUR AIMED AT ATTRACTING ATTENTION


As a consequence of a crime a victim may suffer POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER.


We can talk about POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER if a victim still suffers a combination of the above consequences a month or several months after the crime.


POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER CAN SERIOUSLY AFFECT YOUR LIFE THEREFORE SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP IS RECOMMENDED.

 

Similar changes and problems may also be experienced by traffic accident victims and other severely stressful events.

 


How can you deal with the consequences of a criminal offence alone?

  • Talk to people you trust about how you are feeling, what you are going through, what you are thinking about.
  • Fear, anger, sadness and similar feelings are normal. Express them.
  • Allow yourself to feel pain.
  • Seek professional help from a doctor, or a psychologist.
  • If your doctor prescribed medication, take it regularly and in prescribed quantity.
  • Make sure you keep in good physical and psychological condition. Get enough sleep, rest and eat regularly.
  • As soon as possible go back to your usual daily routine but do not overdo your daily obligations if you are feeling tired and unwell.
  • Exercise, be active, but do not overdo it.
  • Start taking smaller, less important decisions. This will give you back the feeling of control over your life.
  • Keep a dairy.
  • Do your tasks gradually and carefully. After severe stress you are more likely to have an accident.
  • Remember the things that helped you deal with stressful events in the past (e.g. a death in the family, divorce).
  • Do things that make you feel good.
  • Remember the things that fill you with hope, that you used to look forward to, or still do. Think of them when you are feeling down.
  • Unpleasant, intrusive thoughts of the event, nightmares, flashback episodes are normal consequences of a criminal offence. Accept them as part of the healing process. With time they will fade away and stop. Do not deny them. Talk about them.


What is best avoided?

  • Do not shut off from the world and do not exclude your friends and relatives from your life.
  • Avoid alcohol and similar substances to alleviate emotional pain. Addiction to substances will not help your recovery. It will become an additional problem.
  • Do not blame yourself for what happened to you.
  • Do not suppress your feelings. Allow yourself to express them.