The effects of crime

The physical and emotional impact of crime can be devastating both for those who are harmed and for their families and friends.  No matter what the crime or circumstances in which it was committed, it may diminish the victims' sense of control and self-worth. Crime however, affects different people in different ways. The way you feel will also vary over time and may even differ from day to day.

A common initial reaction is feeling numb, and not believing what has happened to you.  You may feel helpless and that no-one understands what you are going through. You may feel shocked, fearful or angry. It may help you to know that what you are feeling and experiencing are normal reactions to an abnormal and distressing event.

Depending on your situation, you may experience a combination of reactions, feelings and symptoms.

Cognitive difficulties:

    • disorientation
    • confusion
    • difficulty problem solving
    • memory problems
    • poor attention spans
    • disturbed thinking
    • blaming someone
    • reliving the event
    • distressing dreams

Emotional responses:

    • fear/anxiety
    • anger
    • depression
    • grief
    • guilt
    • feeling helpless
    • feeling isolated
    • desire to withdraw/hide

In most cases these reactions, feelings and symptoms are temporary. Many people recover within a few weeks or months. For some however, the reactions, feelings and symptoms persist. 

It is important to look after yourself, and to get any support and treatment you need. Family members and friends may provide you with the support you need. Those not directly affected by crime often can't understand how difficult the recovery can be. At times they may not be able to provide you with the help or support you need when you need it. They may be dealing with their own reactions to the crime or other issues in their lives.

Some victims of crime prefer to talk to a person who has not been affected by the crime, and who was previously unknown to them. If you would like further information or support you can contact the Victim Support Service or one of the other agencies listed on the  Where can I get help? page.

Ways of Coping

Every person has his/her own way of coping with crime and trauma.  You may find it helpful to:

    • structure your life as much as possible
    • defer major life decisions
    • allow yourself good days and bad days
    • do nice things for yourself
    • eat regularly and nutritiously
    • maintain or increase your physical exercise
    • limit the use of alcohol and drugs
    • keep a journal
    • talk about your feelings.

You can access information on depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues from: