VSE-being-a-victim

It’s a difficult experience

Victim Support can help you deal with what you have been through. If you’ve been a victim of any crime, Victim Support Europe can help you get in contact with a national Victim Support organisation in your country. You can receive help and support regardless of whether or not you have reported the crime to the police. Victim Support can for instance offer:

    • someone to talk to in confidence
    • information about criminal justice system
    • information about compensation
    • help in dealing with other organisations and criminal justice agencies

Everybody reacts differently to crime. While some people are able to move on in life fairly unaffected, others may feel very impacted by the crime. There is no “right way” to react to crime; the feelings you may experience are natural reactions to an unnatural situation – being a victim of crime.

Victims may feel angry, depressed, isolated, fearful, experience sleep problems or other negative feelings following the crime. Victim Support aims to help you deal with these negative aspects and support you in your recovery process.

Many of Victim Support Europe’s national member organisations also provide support and information if you are called to give evidence in court.

Common Reactions to Crime

If you have been a victim of crime it is very frequent and quite normal to experience physical, psychological and social reactions to the traumatic event.

The consequences of a crime are numerous and diverse and vary from a person to another. Post victimisation reactions can last for days, weeks, months or longer.

Accordingly, there are a set of psychological, physical and social consequences that occur after victimisation. Victims’ reactions may include fear, anger, sleep problems, depression, general panic, fear of dying, the impression of living a nightmare, general disorientation, sense of loneliness and distress.

However, the victim is not generally the only one affected by the crime. The witnesses may also be affected. Family and friends of the victim, even if they didn’t witness the crime, may also suffer its consequences.

A Victim Support Organisation can help you cope with these life disturbing events. There you can find psychological, juridical and social specialized support.

Physical consequences

Besides the direct results of the physical aggressions suffered by the victim (i.e., fractures, bruises, etc.), the physical reactions can include body responses to stress. Nevertheless, these reactions may vary from one person to another. Some examples might be:

  • loss of energy;
  • muscle pain;
  • headaches or migraines;
  • menstruation disorders;
  • cold and bodily sensations;
  • digestive problems;
  • high blood pressure.

Psychological consequences

The diversity and the intensity of the psychological consequences may lead people to think they are going insane or losing the psychological balance. However, these reactions are normal in these life events. Some psychological consequences to the victimization might be:

  • fear;
  • resentment;
  • anxiety;
  • feeling of guilt;
  • hostility;
  • somatisation;
  • anger against the offender and the criminal justice system;
  • humiliation;
  • may be easily startled;
  • poor concentration;
  • trouble sleeping;
  • memory disturbances;
  • sadness;
  • distrust of others;
  • loss of self confidence;
  • may experience lowered self-esteem.

Social consequences

  • isolation;
  • may not engage in activities they once enjoyed;
  • fear of being alone;
  • tension within family and husband/wife relationship;
  • insecurity.

The extreme stress caused by victimisation can “shatter the very basic assumptions victims have about themselves and the world around them

(Peterson, 2003 cit in DeValve, E., A Qualitative Exploration of the Effects of Crime Victimisation for Victims of Personal Crime, Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 2005, 1(2)).