When Bank Employees Become Victims of Robbery
You've all seen a pebble drop into a pool of water and noticed the ripples which are produced by the impact of that pebble. A similar ripple occurs from person to person when crime victimization happens.
As a bank employee, you have been exposed to a crime in your work setting. Even if you were not directly confronted during the incident, you will experience reactions from your exposure to the robbery or attempted robbery of your bank.
How people react to these events varies from person to person and is affected by individual factors such as how you usually handle stressful situations and by what kind of support you have both inside and outside of work.
Your reaction may be acute (immediate) or may be delayed. You may experience symptoms that are physical, emotional, or cognitive (involving your thinking ability).
It is important to realize that these are normal feelings, behaviors, and reactions to an abnormal event.
As you are able to talk about your experiences and as you receive support from your co-workers and from other people in your life, these reactions should diminish.
Employees who have been through a robbery or an attempted robbery report having a variety of experiences. These include:
- Fear: They are afraid of leaving the bank, of being in public, or being re-victimized. They are afraid the robber will find them or will come back.
- Hyper-Alertness: They find that they startle easily. They "jump" when suddenly approached by customers or when they hear loud sounds.
- Guilt: They feel that they could have done something differently. They wonder if they could have prevented the incident, or if they didn't do something they should have.
- Anger: They are enraged that their life has been disrupted and that they no longer feel safe or in control.
- Isolation: They feel that they are the only ones who are having reactions to the event. They feel isolated from family and friends, and they feel no one can understand what they have been through.
- Emotional/Physical Responses:
- irritability, which may be directed at family and friends;
- loss of motivation - feeling blue or depressed;
- chronic fatigue.
Coping with the Aftermath of Crime Victimization
Awareness and understanding are crucial in beginning to deal with this event in your life. You can begin by being aware that you MAY react in some of the ways we have discussed. Remember that your reactions are normal.
1. You may find that you react to sights, sounds, smells, and textures that were present at the time of the crime and which remind you of the incident.
2. Sometimes, being exposed to a traumatic event may trigger memories of past events in your life which were also traumatic or which involved loss of control. Perhaps you have been in a robbery before, have been an assault victim, or have lost someone in death. You may find yourself reacting anew to feelings about these earlier events.
3. Feelings of vulnerability and helplessness are frequent after victimization. One of the first things to pay attention to is your need to feel safe again. For a short time, take any precaution which will make you feel safer. Some examples might include:
- Having someone drive you to work and pick you up at the end of the day.
- Following procedures that will protect you from as much risk as possible while at work in the bank.
- Making your daily schedule as predictable and routine as possible for awhile to return some control and stability to your life.
- Taking care of yourself physically, consciously being aware of good nutrition, and getting adequate sleep.
- Continuing to do the things you have fun doing.
Be aware of your support systems. They will be playing a very important part in helping you to resume your normal functioning after the incident.
Typically, people find three levels of support:
Your work group: Very possibly these people have gone through the trauma with you and know how you feel. Use each other to talk about your feelings and support each other.
Your family: They will need to know what is happening with you and what to expect. They will react to your experience, but may not have the information needed to deal with it as you do. Please remember that children are very perceptive. Do not underestimate their ability to understand and deal with life's trauma.
Your community: You may find his support in friends, counselors, the clergy, or other significant people in your life.
Preparing to Testify
You are an important witness if the bank robber is apprehended. You may be needed as a witness. You may have to attend a line-up and testify in court. Someone from the Victim/Witness Unit in the United States Attorney's Office will keep you informed of the progress of your case and will help you through the criminal justice system.
Resolution of traumatic stress is a healing process. It is important to allow yourself time to grieve, and to give yourself permission to heal at your own pace. It is important that you actively seek support from your family, friends, co-workers, and possibly professional counseling and victim support groups. This will help you make plans for the future with a new sense of strength and vitality.
If you have any questions or problems related to a case, please click on the "Contact Victim Witness Services Staff" link below or contact the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case.