Surviving Crime and Trauma

For some people being the victim of a crime is their first experience of feeling powerless. For others the crime can trigger a re-experiencing of past events where there was a similar theme of powerlessness or fear. It can shake us deeply to have our primal impulses perceive a threatening event and to feel that we were unable to defend ourselves against it.

Victims may become overwhelmed by emotions or with feeling unsafe and begin to push those emotions away. The unexpressed feelings then go ‘underground’ and are not being dealt with.

Victims of trauma usually find that the event gets replayed in their mind regularly. In many cases this will lessen significantly within a month. Talking through the incident many times and journaling about it can help.

People may hold anger about the incident or towards the perpetrator. Often this is energy that was frozen during the incident and didn’t get to be released. It is important to find healthy ways of discharging this anger,through physical activity, rather than turning it inwards or towards the people closest to you.

Sometimes victims of house break-ins feel almost as if a personal invasion has occurred, as a stranger has violated their ‘space’. This can lead the person to feel that the world is unsafe. It takes time to trust and to rebuild a feeling of security.

One of the biggest blocks to recovering is our own judgement of our feelings. Emotions usually have a way of working themselves out if we allow them to move through us. We tend to ‘get in our own way’, by suppressing or denying our feelings or ‘putting on a brave face’. We need to work through our anger or allow ourselves to cry. Sometimes, as shock moves through the body, we actually physically shake, this is perfectly normal.

There is a delicate balance between taking time to recover and removing ourselves too much from our daily routines and connections with the world. This will vary for each person. It can help to ask yourself what the healthiest option is for you.

If you have been the victim of a crime it is important that you allow friends and family to support you, engage in physical activity, talk to someone you trust, allow healthy emotional release, and be patient with yourself.

Author: Liz Wright MIAHIP

Accredited member of the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy I have been working as a counsellor and psychotherapist since 1999. My experience and training covers a wide range of areas, allowing me to provide the right therapy for you.

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