Hard Knocks of a Victim
As most victims will tell you, at the end of the day it’s not about the stuff; it’s the shock, trauma, and anger, along with a sense of horrible vulnerability that gets you … Oh, yeah… you’re not going to feel all of it right away.
After the reports have been written and the fingerprints taken and everyone has left, you are left standing there thinking “now what? Even worse is when the police come and can’t find fingerprints and don’t seem to have many clues, you might be left with the thought, “no one cares.”
As with any grieving process, there are a whole slew of emotions you’re going to experience after the horrible event. And just like with grief, they don’t all come at once but gradually over time.
Unfortunately I’ve experienced burglary twice in my life. While the first, over twenty years ago, has faded to insignificance, the second, four years ago, is as fresh in my memory as four weeks after the incident.
There’s no predicting just how a burglary will affect you and your family. Everyone is different. But this accurately describes the emotional roller coaster after our home was broken into and our new laptops, software programs worth thousands of dollars, binoculars, cameras and the like were stolen. Irrationally, I was more upset by the fact that the burglars had gone through our bedroom cupboards with a fine-tooth-comb, helping themselves to special makeup, much of it new.
Victims of burglary often suffer emotional fallout long after the physical goods have been replaced. This is especially heart-breaking when personal, nostalgic items are stolen because sentimental value is incalculable. Items given to you by parents or other important people are connections to your past, and you’ll probably always miss them.
Experts agree it’s normal to experience a variety of emotions after a burglary. First the initial shock, and feeling of being violated; then there will be helplessness, anger, sadness and fear.
All too often people have an “It-won’t happen to me” attitude. The sudden shock of finding your safe haven invaded can be the toughest thing to deal with. According to psychologists, knowing that your refuge has been penetrated by strangers leaves feelings of violation.
Most burglary victims take this intrusion into their private world very personally. Because your home is an extension of you, having it entered, defiled, and your valuables cruelly taken is a direct attack on you and your family. Another normal feeling that burglary causes is helplessness, sometimes accompanied by fantasies of revenge on the burglars.
Anger is also common, says a California psychologist who has experienced burglary three times before installing an alarm system… Go figure? Possibly the most disturbing emotional response to being burglarized is fear. It’s not unusual for burglary victims to feel insecure and have trouble sleeping. For some, this wakefulness can last a couple of weeks, for others a couple of months. Everyone will have a different timetable for recovery. But recovery you will need.
Give Yourself Time
Getting back to normal is difficult enough so whatever you do after a burglary never deny your state of mind. You are allowed to feel bad.
Experts say letting these emotions run their course is key to healing after a break-in. Being a victim of crime is a horrible, stressful experience but most people are naturally resilient and will find ways to cope and bounce back. After a while you’ll find the event fading into the background of everyday life and then one day you’ll realize you haven’t thought about it for months.
Fortunately the experience is behind me and my family and we’re moving forward. The emotional consequences are no longer an issue but since experiencing this particular trauma, we made the quality decision to fit a security system and have experienced peace of mind ever since. We didn’t need a third break-in to learn our lesson.