Reactions to becoming a victim of crime 

    Reactions to a crime

    Becoming a victim of a crime can be a distressing life event. It can help victims of crime to know that:

    • you may have a range of reactions such as anxiety, fear, nightmares and problems relating to others

    • not everyone has the same reaction and some people may have a delayed reaction

    • depending on what happened, it will usually take 6-8 weeks to feel more in control again. For some, it could take longe

    • it is helpful to remember there are different ways to recover from what has happened

    • you can talk to someone you trust or a support service.

    Some possible effects of experiencing a crime

    Victims of crime and at times, their family and friends, may experience some of the following effects of a crime.

    Physical effects

    • feeling tense or jumpy
    • difficulty sleeping
    • nightmares
    • constant tiredness
    • feeling uncoordinated
    • loss of appetite 

    Emotional effects

    • feelings of "going crazy"
    • sadness, grief or loss
    • anger or irritability
    • feeling guilty 

    Cognitive effects

    • poor attention span
    • difficulty making decisions
    • confusion
    • slowed thinking
    • forgetting details of daily life  

    Behavioural effects

    • avoiding people or places that remind you of the event
    • using alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings
    • staying busy to block out thoughts of the crime

    Ways to cope with the effects of a crime

    Allow yourself to feel your emotions

    • Allow yourself to feel the pain
    • Keep notes on your progress
    • Make daily decisions to regain a feeling of control
    • Spend time with others, but allow yourself some time out
    • Re-establish your normal schedule as soon as possible
    • Try to rest, sleep, exercise and eat regularly
    • Undertake daily tasks with care until your stress reduces
    • Consider seeing your doctor or a counsellor for professional help.

    It helps NOT to...

    • blame yourself for what happened - it was not your fault
    • bottle up your emotions - find someone you can talk to
    • make life-changing decisions - until you feel ready.

    Many of these reactions will fade over a period of weeks, although some might last longer. There are ways to cope with the effects of crime.