Coping With Victimization

No one expects to become a crime victim. Often victims are left with many puzzling emotions.

Your feelings are normal and natural, even though they seem unusual.

Victims, family, and friends may feel overwhelmed by their reactions to crime. Shock, numbness, denial, disbelief, fear, anger, guilt, distrust, frustration, and loneliness are emotions victims may feel.

There is no right or wrong way to feel.

Family members who have been victimized experience unique emotions at varying points in their recovery.

You may be filled with disbelief about the incident.

The shock and loss of control over life and personal safety may leave victims very confused.

Anger is a common reaction.

Victims often feel angry at the defendant, the disruption in their life, the criminal justice system and even towards those closest to the victim. Talking can be a useful method to release these feelings.

Grief, sorrow, and depression frequently follow loss or injury.

Grief and sorrow can last for a lengthy period of time. Be patient and know that what victims are feeling is okay.

Guilt is normal.

Victims often second-guess themselves, saying “I should have” or “If I only had.” No one chooses to become a victim, but many victims feel responsible for what happened. Victims are not to blame for the crime. The criminal is at fault.

Fear is hard to evade.

Crime is sudden and frequently life-threatening. Once victims have experienced crime, it may be difficult for them to feel safe again. Victims may face fears of staying at home, leaving home, or trusting anyone. With the passing of time, hopefully these fears will lessen.

Your feelings may become heightened at various times.

Certain events may cause varying emotions to return to the victim. Observing someone who looks like the criminal, hearing sounds that remind the victim of the time of the crime, arrest or trial of the offender, or an anniversary date that has special significance may cause a flood of emotion.

Talking about the crime experience is often the best treatment for healing.

Friends and family need to listen to the story, oftentimes repeatedly. Victims need non-judgmental support and assurance to recover at their own pace.

Take steps to help ensure a sense of well being.

Install new locks, security system, or additional lighting. Learn personal safety techniques or carry personal protection devices to increase security.

Don’t isolate yourself.

Interaction with others may speed your recovery. Friends and family may be able to provide a more realistic view of the situation.

Don’t be afraid to seek help and support.

Talk with a victim services provider who can offer support and factual information about the criminal justice system and provide referrals to other resources.