The trauma of victimization is a direct reaction to the aftermath of crime. Crime victims suffer a tremendous amount of physical and psychological trauma. The primary injuries victims suffer can be grouped into three distinct categories: physical, financial and emotional. When victims do not receive the appropriate support and intervention in the aftermath of the crime, they suffer “secondary” injuries.
The physical injury suffered by victims may be as apparent as cuts, bruises, or broken arms and legs. However, it is not uncommon for victims to be fatigued, unable to sleep, or have increased or decreased appetites. Many victims believe that the stress caused by victimization endangers them to physical problems later in life. Victims and survivors A Scam Survivor is a victim who has been able to fully accept the reality of their situation. That they were the victim of a crime and are not to blame. They are working on their emotional recovery and reduction of any trauma either on their own, through a qualified support organization, or through counseling or therapy. And has done their duty and reported the crime to their local police, national police, and on Anyscam.com
suffer financially when their money or jewelry is taken when their property is damaged when their medical insurances do not cover all expenses, and when they must pay funeral costs. The primary emotional injuries of victimization cause both immediate and long-term reactions to victims, their loved ones and, sometimes, their friends.
Dr. Morton Bard, the co-author of The Crime Victim’s Book, has described a victim’s reaction to crime as the crisis reaction.1
Victims will react differently depending upon the level of personal violation they experience and their state of equilibrium at the time of victimization. Victims of non-violent crimes — such as theft — may experience less of a personal violation than victims of violent crimes, however, that is not always the case. Homicide is the ultimate violation for a crime victim and leaves behind the victim’s survivors to experience the personal violation. All people have their own “normal” state of equilibrium. This normal state is influenced by everyday stressors such as illness, moving, changes in employment, and family issues. When any one of these changes occurs, equilibrium will be altered, but should eventually return to normal.
When people experience common stressors and are then victimized, they are susceptible to more extreme crisis reactions. There are certain common underlying reactions that a victim will undergo either in the immediate hours or days after the crime. Frequent responses to criminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. victimization include, but are not limited to: shock; numbness; denial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.; disbelief; anger Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, trigger, hurt or threat. About one-third of scam victims become trapped in anger for extended periods of time following a scam.
A person experiencing anger will often experience physical effects, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion that triggers a part of the fight or flight response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically.
Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them", psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability.; and, finally, recovery.
Tips For Coping
These are some ideas that may help you cope with the trauma or loss:
- Find someone to talk with about how you feel and what you are going through. Keep the phone number of a good friend nearby to call when you feel overwhelmed or panicked.
- Allow yourself to feel pain. It will not last forever.
- Spend time with others, but make time to spend time alone.
- Take care of your mind and body. Rest, sleep, and eat regular, healthy meals.
- Re-establish a normal routine as soon as possible, but don’t over-do.
- Make daily decisions, which will help to bring back a feeling of control over your life. Exercise, though not excessively and alternate with periods of relaxation.
- Undertake daily tasks with care. Accidents are more likely to happen after severe stress.
- Recall the things that helped you cope during trying times and loss in the past and think about the things that give you hope. Turn to them on bad days.
Shock And Numbness
Shock and numbness are usually considered a part of the initial stage of the crisis reaction. Victims are faced with a situation beyond their control, and some may almost immediately go into shock and become disoriented for a while.
Victims may experience what is referred to as the “fight or flight” syndrome It is a group of symptoms that can consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.. The “fight or flight” syndrome is a basic automatic physiological response that individuals have no control over. Because many victims do not understand this response, and their lack of control over it, they do not understand why they fled instead of fought, and vice versa. A woman who takes a self-defense course may blame Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action. herself when confronted with an attacker because she is unable to put into practice what she has learned. A man may be criticized, or not believe if he did not fight back when confronted. To question a victim’s response to a criminal incident is to inflict a second injury on that crime victim and can cause emotional harm.
In many instances, physical and emotional paralyzes occur whereby the victim is unable to make rational decisions such as reporting the incident to the police or obtaining medical attention. The individual loses control, feels vulnerable, lonely, and confused; the sense of self-becomes invalidated.
Denial, Disbelief, And Anger
In this phase, the victims’ moods will fluctuate. As Steven Berglas states in his article “Why Did This Happen to Me?”, victims almost always think, “This could not have happened to me!” or “Why did this happen to me?” Many will replay the disturbing event by dreaming, having nightmares or even fantasies about killing or causing bodily harm to the offender.2
Survivors or homicide victims may even express anger at their loved one, believing that if the victim had done something differently, he or she would not have been killed. During this period, victims must contend with a variety of stressful emotions, such as fear, despair, self-pity, and even guilt and shame Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self; withdrawal motivations; and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness.
for their anger and hostility.
If victims are to recover from the traumatic event, it is crucial that they are provided with the proper support during the initial impact stage and throughout the criminal justice process. Immediate crisis intervention is needed. Trained crisis intervenors should inquire about the victim’s welfare by asking if they feel safe, assuring victims that they are safe if that is true, and determining if they are in need of medical attention. Victims will often blame themselves for the crime. The crisis intervenor needs to assure the victim that they were not at fault. If these initial and crucial steps are missing, the trauma can have long-term effects on the healing and recovery process. After experiencing the initial traumatic reactions to victimization, victims will most likely undertake the task of rebuilding their equilibrium. Their lives will never be the same, but they begin to regain some form of control and a sense of confidence.
Every victim’s experience is different, and the recovery process can be extremely difficult. It can take a few months or years — or an entire lifetime — depending upon the variables involved. For instance, if an individual has suffered from other traumatic incidents prior to the victimization — such as the death of a close relative or friend — his or her initial emotional reaction, reorganization and recovery might be different from someone who is experiencing victimization for the first time. The road to recovery is very similar to a roller-coaster with unexpected “ups and downs.” This is why crisis intervention and supportive counseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes.
A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists".
SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. play a significant role in helping victims recover.
If victims have difficulty rebuilding or finding a new equilibrium, they may suffer from a long-term crisis reaction or from posttraumatic stress disorder. Victims never completely forget about the crime. The pain may lessen and even subside, but their lives are changed forever. Victims who suffer from long-term crisis reactions can be thrown back into the initial crisis reaction by what are known as “triggers A trigger is a stimulus that sets off a memory of a trauma or a specific portion of a traumatic experience..” Many victims will have particular triggers that remind them of their victimization, such as sights, smells, noises, birthdays, holidays or the anniversary of the crime.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first applied to military veterans who experienced psychological trauma while serving in combat. Researchers are now applying this syndrome to crime victims. Being a victim of a crime does not necessarily mean that an individual will develop PTSD. If victims receive appropriate crisis intervention, the chances of developing PTSD are reduced. Some recognizable symptoms of PTSD are:
- Sleeping disorders/continued nightmares;
- Constant flashbacks A flashback is reexperiencing a previous traumatic experience as if it were actually happening in that moment. It includes reactions that often resemble the client’s reactions during the trauma. Flashback experiences are very brief and typically last only a few seconds, but the emotional aftereffects linger for hours or longer. Flashbacks are commonly initiated by a trigger, but not necessarily./intrusion of thoughts;
- Extreme tension and anxiety;
- Irritability/outbursts of anger;
- Non-responsiveness or lack of involvement with the external world;
- Prolonged feelings of detachment or estrangement of others; and
- Memory trouble.
PTSD is a very complicated diagnosis and the presence of any of the above-mentioned symptoms does not mean that a person is suffering from PTSD. This bulletin does not provide the proper forum for a complete review.
Victims not only have to struggle with primary injuries in the aftermath of the crime, but they must also battle with the “secondary” injuries. Secondary injuries are injuries that occur when there is a lack of proper support. These injuries can be caused by friends, family and most often by the professionals victims encounter as a result of the crime. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, social service workers, the media, coroners, clergy, and even mental health Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". According to WHO, mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others". From the perspectives of positive psychology or of holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines "mental health". professionals can cause secondary injuries. Those individuals may lack the ability or training to provide the necessary comfort and assistance to the victim. Often, those individuals blame the victim for the crime. Failing to recognize the importance of the crime or to show sympathy can be damaging to the victim’s self-worth and recovery process.
Interaction With The Criminal Justice System
Perhaps the most agonizing experience for victims involves dealing with the criminal justice system if and when an offender is apprehended. At this level, the crime is considered to have been committed against the state, and victims become witnesses to the crimes. This procedure is very difficult for the crime victim to understand and come to terms with, because in the victim’s mind, he or she is the one who has suffered emotionally, physically, psychologically and financially. At this stage of the process, a victim can sometimes feel that he or she is losing complete control because he or she is not directly involved in the prosecution or sentencing of the offender.
However, participation in the criminal justice system can aid victims in rebuilding their lives. If victims are kept well-informed about the criminal proceedings and feel that they have a voice in the process, they will feel that they are a part of a team effort. This added effort enables victims to understand the judicial process and helps to return to them a sense of control to their lives and circumstances.
In order to have a better understanding of the aftermath of criminal victimization, we must begin to accept the reality that crime is random, senseless and can happen to anyone regardless of the precautions that are taken to prevent being victimized. We must also understand that a victim’s life is turned upside down when he or she becomes a victim of crime. In order to help victims learn to trust society again and regain a sense of balance and self-worth, we must educate all those who come in contact with victims and survivors. With proper training, all professionals will be better able to assist victims in dealing with the aftermath and trauma of victimization.
2012 © National Center for Victims of Crime. 2000 M Street NW, Suite 480, Washington, DC 20036 http://victimsofcrime.org
– SCARS is a registered Crime Victims Assistance Organization with the National Center for Victims of Crime and listed in their VictimConnect.org directory.
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