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Reactions to becoming a victim of crime 

Reactions to a crime

Becoming a victim of a crime can be a distressing life event. The feelings victims experience are normal reactions to abnormal events. 

  • 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.