Health issues

Crime can have a huge impact on you, mentally and physically. Everyone reacts differently, but a lot of people feel strong emotions – especially soon after the crime.

You may feel angry, afraid, upset, or just numb. You might also experience physical effects, such as crying, shaking and difficulty sleeping, or even more serious health problems.

Most people soon get back to normal with the right help and support. But for some the effects last much longer, and could include ongoing health issues.

How we can help

As the independent charity for people affected by crime in England and Wales, we understand the impact that crime has on people. We’ve been helping people to cope with the effects of crime for almost 50 years and we know that a lot of people find it helpful to talk to someone.

Discussing your feelings in a safe, confidential environment can help you to cope with your emotions. It can help you make sense of what you’ve been through. We have specialist trained workers who will listen to you and support you, and unlike with friends or family, you don’t have to worry about putting a burden on them.

Some people use the term counselling when they talk about the work we do, but it’s not a word we use. Instead we talk about giving listening support – and most people find it helps them move on from the crime. However, some people do need counselling or other types of psychological help after a crime. We can help to arrange it if you think this is something you need.

If you need medical treatment after a crime we can also help you to deal with the health service. If you’ve been injured through a crime, you may be entitled to criminal injuries compensation. While it won’t help your injuries to heal, it may help you make adjustments to your life while you recover. We can explain how to make a claim and help you with any paperwork.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Many people who experience a traumatic and stressful event, such as a crime, feel some very strong emotions, but these usually fade as time goes by. However you’ve been affected, we can give you emotional and practical support to help you cope and recover.

Some people find that their feelings and emotions do not improve, and perhaps get worse. They may go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a medical term used to describe a pattern of symptoms experienced by someone 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.

If you think this has started to happen to you, we suggest that you get medical advice by talking to your GP. Any symptoms can then be treated professionally and your GP may be able to arrange some specialist counselling or help. But there may be a waiting list, so you can contact us for help and support in the meantime.

How to contact us

To find out more, or to see how we can help you, contact your local Victim Support office. Alternatively you can call our Supportline on freephone 08 08 16 89 111 for support and information, contact us via our 24/7 live chat service, or request support via our website. We also welcome calls via Relay UK.

Alternatively you can create a free account on My Support Space – Victim Support’s online resource containing interactive guides (including on wellbeing, coping strategies and difficult emotions) to help you move forward after crime.