How crime can affect you
While certain emotions such as anger or fear are common after becoming a victim of crime, some victims don't react in this way.
After experiencing a crime, people can be affected in many different ways. Sometimes people feel quite normal for a while and then things may suddenly start to fall apart. Others may have physical symptoms such as lack of sleep or feeling ill. Everyone is individual in how they respond – the crucial thing is to be aware that you've had a traumatic experience and any changes in how you are feeling could be related to this.
Many people are surprised at just how emotional they feel after a crime. These strong emotions can, in turn, make you feel even more unsettled and confused.
People around you such as friends, partners and children are also likely to be affected. They may feel similar emotions to yours, as well as concern for you. But at the same time, many people find that others around them expect them to just 'get over it.'
This is not always helpful if what you really want to do is talk about how you feel.
How you react to a crime will also depend on:
• The type of crime.
• Whether you know the person who committed the crime.
• The support you get (or don't get) from your family, friends, the police and other people you come into contact with.
• Things that have happened to you in the past (because if you've had to deal with difficult events before you may have found ways of coping).
The effects of crime can also last for a long time. The 'seriousness' of the crime is often not a factor in how you respond - some people cope extremely well with the most horrific crimes while others can be very distressed by a minor incident.
While the short-term effects of crime can be severe, most victims of crime do not suffer any long-term harm. Occasionally, people do develop long-term problems, such as depression or anxiety-related illnesses, and a few people experience a severe, long-lasting reaction after a crime; this is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is a medical term used to describe a pattern of symptoms found in a person who has experienced a traumatic event. However you've been affected in this way, we can give you information and support to help you recover.
One of the things that makes crime particularly hard to cope with is knowing that it was committed deliberately by another person. Unlike an accident or illness, where there is no intentional harm, people who commit a crime have done so with the intention to cause harm in some way.
If you are the victim, this can make you feel very powerless and vulnerable.
This can be especially difficult to deal with if the crime is repeated or on-going which is often the case with domestic violence or racial harassment. It's also a big issue for hate crimes because you know, as the victim, that you've been singled out because of who or what you are.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Most people who experience a traumatic and stressful event, such as a crime, will feel emotional about it. These feelings are usually very strong, but they normally go away as time goes by. However you've been affected, we can give you information and support to help you cope.
We can also give you practical help, for example with your home security, as sometimes people find it hard to move on emotionally when they have day-to-day reminders in front of them of what they've been through. A few people may find that their symptoms do not improve, and perhaps get worse as time goes by. They may go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
This is a medical term used to describe a pattern of symptoms found in a person who has been traumatised. The symptoms are different for everyone but may include nightmares and flashbacks, sleeping problems, depression, and other physical and mental problems.
Many people affected by post-traumatic stress disorder find it helpful to talk to a medical expert, such as their GP, who might be able to arrange some specialist counselling or help. However, there can be a waiting list for counselling so you may find it helpful to contact us for help and support in the meantime.