If you have been a victim of a crime you may be experiencing a range of emotions – numbness, anxiety, sadness, guilt, anger. These emotions are normal for someone whose body and/or property has been attacked. During this time of recovery it’s important to take the necessary steps to heal. Listed below are 5 steps to help you heal after such an incident.
- Safety – After such an experience you may feel afraid in your home or general environment. It is understandable since yourself, your belongings or your property has been attacked. Take the necessary steps to help yourself feel safe. Depending on your personal situation this could be changing your locks, alerting neighbors to watch your house, canceling credit cards, installing alarms, or staying with someone or having someone stay with you temporarily until you feel better. There are also classes you can take to help you learn how to protect yourself and your home.
- Support – Get support. During crisis it’s important to have friends and family to be there to help you out. You may need help around your house or need someone to drive you if you have been physically injured. You may also need help with normal responsibilities that you may find difficult to take care of due to your emotional state. For some people it is difficult to ask for help because they’re used to being the strong one. Another way to think about this situation is that you are preventing your loved ones from giving you a gift. It feels good to be able to help the ones you love when they are having difficulties. Allow yourself to receive support which helps you and gives pleasure and satisfaction to the ones who love you.
- Express – Express your thoughts and emotions. When something traumatic happens it’s an important step in your healing to be able to talk about what your thinking or feeling. For some people this is difficult especially for children and adolescents. Artistic expression is another way to let out what’s on your mind and heart if talking is difficult. Expressing yourself can be in the form of painting, drawing, writing, journaling, ceramics, and poetry. This is healing for your mind and body.
- Care – Take care of yourself in all areas of your life. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right, and avoiding self-medication (alcohol & drugs). Sleep is important in regenerating ourselves mentally and physically. You may feel extra-tired after what has happened. Allow yourself to rest and even maybe take naps during the day. Exercising, especially aerobic exercise can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Do what you feel you can handle and listen to your body. It may just be a 10 minute walk in the park, a bike ride, or a swim in the pool. Eating good food is another way to help you have energy and help improve your mood. Using drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with your stress and feelings can be tempting. It can be easy to become dependent on these substances in these circumstances due to the immediate relief they can provide you. Find positive ways of de-stressing and improving your mood. Lastly, follow-up with any physical therapy, chiropractic work or massage work you may need if you have been injured. When your body feels better it helps you to feel better mentally.
- Professional Help – Sometimes you can do everything listed above but continue to feel depressed and/or anxious. If your symptoms continue for an extended period of time (over a month) professional help may be needed. This can include counseling and seeing a medical doctor or psychiatrist for medications to help you through this difficult time. Professionals that are trained can help you work through your symptoms quicker and get you back to feeling better in your life.
Many people have been a victim of a crime so don’t feel alone. Also, get the help that you need so you can heal and feel better. You don’t have to suffer. Crime Survivors has a list of referral sources that may help you during this difficult time. Feel free to reach out for help. You’re worth it!
Catherine Shreenan, LMFTCatherine Shreenan is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist who specializes in providing therapy for clients who have been traumatized. Her private practice is located in
Newport Beach, California. She can be reached by phone at (714) 717-3848 for a free 15 minute phone consultation or you can e-mail her at [email protected] if you have questions.