The effects of a violent crime don’t necessarily end once you’re safe and the perpetrator has been arrested. For most crime victims, effects can last months or even years after the event. The lasting impact of trauma can take a toll on your relationships, your job, and many other facets of your life.
The time after a violent crime can be confusing and disorienting, but it is possible to make a recovery. The first step is to understand what is happening to you, and how you can cope in the healthiest way possible.
How Trauma Affects You
Violent crimes can have a wide range of effects on a person, both physical and emotional/mental. Effects are often severe, but for others they may only appear to be mild. Potential effects can include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Difficulty concentrating
- Problems sleeping
- Feeling numb
- Lack of appetite
- Feelings of isolation
- Nausea and stomach issues
- Flashbacks to the traumatic episode
- High blood pressure
How to Cope with These Effects
No two people respond to trauma the same. Accordingly, what works for other crime victims might not work for you. Finding the right coping mechanism usually takes time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t experience healing right away.
Some people have a hard time expressing their feelings to others, even with friends and family. If you fall into this category, consider writing down some of your thoughts in a journal. While you should still seek outside support when you feel comfortable enough to do so, writing down your emotions is a good way to get them organized.
When your physical health is good, your mental health will also improve. Make sure your diet is replete with healthy, nutritious foods and exercise as much as possible. Even a brisk walk once per day can help boost energy levels and relieve tension. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night by avoiding daytime naps and cutting off use of mobile devices two hours before bedtime.
Also, seek out supportive loved ones to spend time with when you’re feeling blue. You don’t necessarily have to discuss your problems with these people, but it can be helpful to get your mind off the traumatic event for a while.
Coping Mechanisms to Avoid
It seems natural for victims of trauma to turn to drugs and alcohol in the aftermath. After all, substance use numbs bad feelings for a period of time, which provides a sensation of relief from the above effects. However, relying heavily on these substances only complicates problems. First, alcohol and other drugs exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety. Second, overuse of intoxicating substances often leads to addiction, which cause even more problems in your life.
Some crime victims try to deny their negative feelings in an attempt to get back to their lives. This is also detrimental, as holding your emotions inside prevents you from processing them appropriately. It’s normal to feel sad, scared, or even guilty after being victimized by crime. By expressing these emotions and seeking out mental health assistance if they become severe, you stand a much better chance of recovering.
Crime can impact you in other ways and having a skilled legal team in your corner ensures your best interests are honored. In Albuquerque, Martinez, Hart, Sanchez & Romero, P.C. has extensive experience advocating on behalf of victims of violent crimes.
If you choose to pursue civil remedies for lost wages and medical bills, we’ll be there to assist you every step of the way. We can also help you pursue other types of damages, including pain and suffering for the emotional trauma you’ve experienced. Please contact our firm by calling 505-343-1776 so we can discuss your case and go over your options.