You or someone you care for may have been involved in a critical event or crime. For many people, this can cause unusually strong emotional reactions. Some people report almost no reaction to a critical event, while others report a variety of physical, emotional and social responses. These may appear a few hours or a few days after the incident and in some cases, weeks or months later. You may find yourself faced with feelings unlike those you have previously experienced. These feelings may come and go and vary in intensity. Their duration will depend largely on the severity of the critical event and it's significance to you. It is important that you realize that these are common reactions to an abnormal event.
The following are possible reactions that you may experience after a traumatic incident has occurred:
Physical Symptoms That You May Experience:
Changes in Appetite
Fatigue/Loss of energy
Emotional Reactions That You May Experience:
Re-experiencing the incident repeatedly in your mind
Unable to concentrate or remember things
In a daze
Feeling lost or abandoned
Avoiding situations that are reminders of the incident
Difficulty in solving problems and making decisions
Unable to concentrate or remember things
There is no "right" or "wrong" way to feel or react as a victim. Many others who have been victimized have felt the same as you do now. YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND YOU ARE NOT CRAZY! It is important to talk about what you have experienced and how you feel about it with concerned family members and friends or a counselor. Getting help from a professional does not imply craziness or weakness. It simply means that the particular event was too powerful for anyone to handle alone.
Things you can do in order to take care of yourself:
Eat well balanced and regular meals (even when you don't feel like it). Avoid junk food, sugar and coffee.
Resist the urge to take drugs or alcohol in order to "escape." This generally leads one to feel more depressed in the long run.
Surround yourself with people who care about you. Don't hesitate to ask someone to spend time with you.
Talk about your feelings. Sharing your experience with others can help you put the incident in perspective.
Maintain as normal a schedule as possible.
Record your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Writing helps to draw out your feelings. It is also a record of your progress.
Avoid making impulsive decisions, such as resigning from your job, until you have worked through the crisis.
Take time to relax, listen to music, read a book. Alternate with periods of physical activity. These activities will help ease your physical reactions.
Remember: what happened was not your fault.
Dealing With The Media
You do not have to talk to the media if you don't want to. If you choose to speak to the media, you may choose the time and place for an interview - it does not have to be at the media's convenience. (If this is a workplace crime, check your institution's policy regarding statements to the media).
Helping Your Family
One of the best ways to help you and your family cope is to realize that they may be going through the trauma with you. Although you might want to protect them by not discussing what has happened, your actions may make it clear that there is something bothering you. It will help everyone involved if you share this information sheet with them. Although you might want to ignore your reactions, it is usually best to deal with concerns as they arise. If not allowed to be expressed, feelings have a way of resurfacing later on.
If You Are A Victim Of A Workplace Crime
Your co-workers probably understand more than anyone else what you are going through. It is important to share your feelings with them and rely on them for mutual support. There may also be help available through Employee Assistance Programs, or through mental health counseling available through your medical insurance. Contact your local Victim Witness Coordinator from the investigative agency responsible for investigating the case, or at the U.S. Attorney's Victim/Witness Assistance Program.
We Are Here To Help
For further information on local resources contact: Victim/Witness Assistance Program, United States Attorney's Office 63 S Royal St. Suite 600 Mobile, AL 36602 251-441-5845 In addition, the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission 1-800-541-9388 may also help crime victims and their families.