How to overcome the consequences of a crime
You may feel differently than usual after a crime. Your thoughts and behaviour may change. It is important to understand that this is a natural reaction to crime.
It is also important to know that each person is different and may react differently to traumatic experiences. Some people feel particularly strong emotions – anger, disappointment and fear right after a crime. Others feel the effect of the crime much later, when they seemingly feel normal, however, everything starts to suddenly fall apart later on.
An effect of the crime can be expressed in physical, emotional and psychological symptoms.
Physical symptoms can include:
- Headache, migraine, stomach pains
- Problems sleeping, bad and very vivid dreams
- Inability to concentrate, fatigue
- Change in eating habits – loss of appetite or overeating
If physical symptoms are related to physical trauma suffered during the crime, do not delay and seek medical attention.
Emotional and psychological symptoms may include:
- Stress, fear or anxiety
- Anger, irritation
- Feelings of humiliation and shame
- Recurring thoughts about the event
- The feeling that nobody understands you or that people do not believe you
- Feelings of guilt
- Vulnerability, insecurity, reluctance to be alone
- A sense of loss of control
- Loss of interests, isolation from the environment
- Isolation, withdrawal from relationships and social activities
- Attention and memory impairment
- Difficulty concentrating and performing tasks at work or at school
- Find a person with whom you could openly talk to about your feelings.
- Allow yourself to feel the way that you do – do not rush yourself to feel better.
- Accept the fact that there will be better days and worse days.
- Make your day as structured as possible.
- Try to get back to your usual routine.
- Whenever you can, make decisions yourself – this will help you regain control.
- Make sure to get enough sleep, engage in light physical exercise, eat regularly and healthily.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol.
- Take extra precautions when driving and performing other daily tasks that require attention.
- Postpone important life decisions for a later time.
- Be gentle and forgiving to yourself.
Sometimes the negative consequences of a crime cannot be overcome quickly. Some people do not start feeling better even after a very long period of time. This may be the result of a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is a long-term reaction to a traumatic experience, when the physical, emotional and psychological symptoms of a trauma persist and the person is not able to get back into the normal routine of his life.
People who are victims of recurring criminal offences (for example, domestic violence) are often at risk of suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder. This may also lead to long-term anxiety and depression.
In this case, it is important to not be afraid to seek help from specialists – doctors and psychotherapists. You can always choose a specialist that you trust.
A specialist will create conditions for you to:
- talk about what happened;
- understand what you feel and think;
- find ways to recover after the event.
- Believe in him (her).
- Spend time together.
- Carefully listen to the person, let him talk and show him that it is no trouble for you to listen to the person talk about the event.
- Say that you are sorry that this has happened and that you want to help.
- Help him (her) feel safer.
- Help the person with his daily chores – cooking, cleaning, taking care of the family or children.
- Never tell the person to “just forget it and move on”.
- Do not take intense reactions (fits of anger and sadness) personally.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions and talk about problems.