How can crime affect you?

Everyone is different and therefore crime will affect them in different ways. The main thing is to understand any changes in how you feel could be a result of the traumatic experience you’ve been through.

One of the things that can make a crime really hard to cope with is knowing it was done deliberately by another person. Unlike an accident or illness, people who commit a crime intend to cause some sort of harm.

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 more minor incident.

After you experience a crime you may find:

1. You feel angry, upset or experience other strong emotions

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.

A lot of people feel angry, upset or afraid after experiencing crime, but people will react in different ways.

2. Things suddenly fall apart for you

Sometimes people feel quite normal for a while and then things may suddenly start to fall apart.

3. You show physical symptoms

Others might have physical symptoms, such as lack of sleep or feeling ill.

4. You blame yourself thinking you should have done things differently

Many victims blame themselves or feel too embarrassed to come forward and get help – it’s important to remember it’s not your fault.

5. You develop long-term problems such as depression or anxiety-related illness

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 move forward. Find out more about how crime can impact your health.

Other factors

How you react to a crime will also depend on:

1. The type of crime

If you are the victim, this can make you feel 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

2. Whether you know the person who committed the crime

It can be even more difficult if the crime was carried out by someone you know, such as a friend or family member. You may feel a sense of betrayal, or that your trust has been damaged. You may feel hurt, confused or any other number of complex emotions.

3. The support you get (or don’t get) from your family, friends, the police and other people around you

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.

4. Things that have happened to you in the past

Even if you’ve had to deal with difficult events before you may have found ways of coping.

Getting support

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 call our Supportline for free on 08 08 16 89 111 to talk to us in confidence or request support via our website. We welcome calls via Relay UK, and you can also contact us via our 24/7 live chat service, which is free and confidential.

You can create a My Support Space account. This is a free, safe and secure online space where you can work through interactive guides to help you move forward after crime.

You can also contact your local Victim Support office.