During or after a crime occurs, the victim may have a variety of different reactions, both in terms of their emotions and thoughts, as well as in their behaviour.
It is important to remember that these are natural reactions that arise as the result of a difficult life experience that one doesn’t expect to have to go through.
Everyone reacts differently. There are people who are very affected and disturbed after a crime, and others who cope with the situation a little better. These reactions are temporary, meaning that the victim will not feel, think, or behave that way forever.
If you are or were the victim of a crime and find that you are unable to cope with the reactions you have had or felt on your own, it is very important that you speak with someone whom you trust so that they can help you.
Some of the most common reactions that may arise during and after a crime include:
- Feeling intense panic and insecurity.
- Shock, that is, feeling numb or not being able to react to, speak about, explain, or possibly even remember what happened.
- Feeling confused and having difficulty believing what happened (all may seem unreal or like a nightmare).
- Constantly thinking about or remembering what happened, almost as if you're experiencing the crime again.
- Avoiding thinking about what happened at all costs; pretending as if the crime did not occur.
- Difficulty being attentive and/or concentrating.
- Feeling anxiety.
- Feeling despair and discouragement - the feeling that there’s nothing you can do to help overcome or solve what happened.
- Difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently throughout night, and/or having nightmares about what happened.
- Feeling guilty.
It is important to remember that the responsibility and blame for what happened belongs to the person who committed the crime.
The victim can never be held responsible or blamed for what happened to them.
- Feeling anger and desire for revenge against the perpetrator.
- Being afraid to do things that they did before without any problem (like leaving the house alone), of reliving the experience, of the offender or of encountering the offender, of passing the crime scene, of being marked forever by the crime (as if it were impossible to get over what happened).
- Feeling deep sadness.
- Mood swings: for example, feeling completely normal one minute, and then having a crying attack the next.
- Changes in appetite.
- Feeling headaches, chest pains, dizziness, nausea, sweating, elevated heart rate, etc.
- Feeling the need to get away from the people closest to them (like parents, family, friends and colleagues).
- Feeling distrust or insecurity in relationships with others.
If you want to know in detail how victims of specific crimes or other forms of violence feel and react, consult the following topics:
The effects of a crime depend on several factors, such as:
- The crime itself and the circumstances under which it occurred.
- For example, if the crime involved the use or threat of use of a weapon, it is natural for the victim to feel afraid after what happened to them and having felt that their life was at risk.
- The victim’s relationship with the offender
- If the victim and the offender have a close/personal relationship (i.e. are related), the negative impact may be greater and may make it more complicated to seek help or report the situation.
- The victim’s emotional state and personality
- For example, if the crime happened at a time in the victim’s life when the victim is more “down” or dispirited, it can be more difficult for them to overcome the situation.
- The reactions and support received from those close to the victim.
- If the people closest to the victim that are aware of what happened help and comfort them, it will be easier for the victim to deal with the situation and overcome what happened.