How can crime affect you?
A lot of people feel angry, upset or afraid after experiencing crime, but people will react in different ways. Sometimes people feel quite normal for a while and then things may suddenly start to fall apart. Others might have physical symptoms, such as lack of sleep or feeling ill. Everyone is different – the main thing is to understand that any changes in how you feel could be a result of the traumatic experience you’ve been through.
Some people are surprised at just how emotional they feel after a crime. These strong emotions can make you feel even more unsettled and confused.
People around you, such as family and friends, are also likely to be affected. They might experience similar emotions to yours, as well as concern for you. But at the same time, some people find that others around them expect them to just 'get over it.'
This isn’t helpful if what you really want to do is talk about how you feel.
How you react to a crime will also depend on:
- the type of crime
- whether you know the person who committed the crime
- the support you get (or don't get) from your family, friends, the police and other people around you
- things that have happened to you in the past (because if you've had to deal with difficult events before you may have found ways of coping).
The effects of crime can also last for a long time, and it doesn’t depend on how ‘serious’ the crime was. Some people cope really well with the most horrific crimes while others can be very distressed by a minor incident.
While the short-term effects of crime can be severe, most people don’t suffer any long-term harm. Occasionally, people do develop long-term problems, such as depression or anxiety-related illnesses, and a few people have a severe, long-lasting reaction after a crime, known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However you've been affected, we can give you information and support to help you recover. Find out more about how crime can impact on your health.
One of the things that can make a crime really hard to cope with is knowing that it was done deliberately by another person. Unlike an accident or illness, people who commit a crime intend to cause some sort of harm.
If you are the victim, this can make you feel very powerless and vulnerable.
This can be even more difficult to deal with if the crime is repeated or ongoing, which is often the case with domestic violence or racial harassment. It's also a big issue for hate crimes when you know, as the victim, that you've been singled out because of who or what you are.
If you’ve been affected by crime and are finding it difficult to cope, you can talk to us. We’re here to help, regardless of when the crime happened and whether or not it has been reported to the police.
You can also contact your local Victim Support office.