Surviving Being A Victim
Last year I had an amazing intern that was the victim of a violent crime. In addition to the stresses of feeling violated, healing and trying to put up a legal fight, she spent a great deal of time blaming herself. I didn’t see her as a victim. I saw her as a courageous woman for standing up to the thugs that assaulted her against the wishes of her family and entire community.
PLEASE NOTE: Having experienced a crime does NOT make you weak.
If you’ve been a victim of crime…
…you can be left trying to process a whole array of emotions. Whether you’re the victim of a robbery or you’ve been physically hurt or even if you’ve just witnessed something it can take a while to get back to your normal routine. Two of the most common emotions are fear and anger, if you’ve been a victim of crime you’ve had your basic rights violated and that can leave you feeling angry that someone did that to you and it can leave you feeling scared it might happen again. You might feel that you’re coping just fine until days weeks or even months later when the events start to play on your mind. Everyone deals with being a victim of crime differently but it’s important you’re aware of what you’re feeling and that you find a way to process those feelings.
The first step to overcome being a victim is to make yourself feel better and safer. If you came home one day to find your home had been burgled invest in some new heavy duty locks, if you had your purse snatched whilst out shopping invest in a new more secure handbag that goes across your whole body, if you were attacked or physically hurt make sure you’re not out alone at night, keep your phone in a separate pocket from your money and keys and always carry an alarm. These are things you can do right now and no matter how small they might be they’ll give you back some feeling of much needed control.
The worst thing you can do is hide away, if you’re by yourself with nothing but your own thoughts for company you’re going to end up feeling worse. Find a local support group, talk to the police or do a Google search, there will be someone near you who can help you process your thoughts and feelings. Whether it’s a room of complete strangers, a trained professional or just a friendly face having someone to talk to will help even if they’re just there as a sounding board.
If you’ve been more seriously affected and you’re experiencing physical symptoms it’s important you recognise them and get help. If you’re feeling overly anxious or panicked out in public, if you can’t sleep or if you keep bursting into tears you could be experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and it’s very important you go to talk to your doctor. They might be able to prescribe you medication or they might be able to help you without resorting to drugs but they will be able to help you help yourself.
It might be that you just need closure which is one more thing that might simply be out your hands. If you’ve been a victim of crime the single most painful and responsible thing you can do is to report it to the authorities. This won’t always guarantee the closure you want but it will help you feel you’ve done everything in your power to stop this happening to something else. One of the worst things you can do is try and seek retribution yourself, if you are feeling angry or lost it’s important you contact a local support group and talk to someone.
Jessica is a writer who is currently working for Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust who work supporting victims of crime as well as people involved in community payback schemes.