The Journey – Victim to Victor
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
The Journey encompasses the efforts of the victim as well as all persons within their sphere of influence. Therefore, we each contribute to the success of this journey.
This is the beginning of a new and different life for you. Take it one step at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time. It is going to take a little while to get accustomed to the new you – the new normal. While each persons is affected in different ways by this violation, it may not be in the same areas of our being – physically, mentally and spiritually. Try to give each of those areas of your life the attention that is needed to achieve a successful journey.
Persons affected by violent crime may begin to experience symptoms such as:-
- Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep.
- Feeling more irritable than usual or having outbursts of anger.
- Having difficulty concentrating or remembering details.
- Feeling constantly “on guard” or like danger is lurking around every corner.
- Being “jumpy” or easily startled.
- Changes in eating patterns.
Physically, try to get comfortable rest. Go where you can feel safe and rest. Eat healthy foods and get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, increasing the duration as you strengthen on the journey.
o Do activities that feel good to you and are safe and healthy. Play games that are not too mentally challenging or that requires little or no physical contact with others.
o Eat well-balanced and regular meals (even if you don’t feel like it).
o Be aware of numbing the pain with overuse of drugs or alcohol. You don’t need to complicate your journey, with a substance abuse problem.
Mentally and Emotionally, seek professional help from those trained in the area of violent crime to help deal with the many thoughts, emotions, triggers and flashbacks associated with the crime.
o Realise that those around you are under stress as well.
o Don’t make any major life decisions or changes.
o Do make as many daily decisions as possible that will give you a feeling of control over your life. If someone asks you what you want to eat, answer them even if you’re unsure.
o Don’t try to fight recurring thoughts, dreams or flashbacks. They are normal and will decrease over time and become less painful. Structure your time. Keep busy.
o You’re normal, and having normal reactions; don’t label yourself crazy.
o Talk to people. Talk is one of the most healing medicines. Reach out. People do care.
o Maintain as normal a schedule as possible. But, feel free to express any necessary changes in preferences to guard your mind.
o Spend time with loved ones.
o Give yourself permission to feel rotten, and share your feelings with others.
o Keep a journal; write your way through those sleepless hours.
o Encourage your heart and equip your mind by reading about others who are successfully further on the recovery journey than you. Apply healthy coping techniques like listening to encouraging music. Learn from others.
Spiritually Pray and connect with your Creator. There are questions only God can answer.
Family, Neighbours, Friends and others
- Offer safe, temporary accommodation in cases of home invasions to facilitate crime scene analysis, clean up and restoration.
- Your support is integral. Don’t put a timeline on their recovery or compare other victims with each other. We all heal in different ways and at different times. This just adds stress and anxiety to the myriad issues the victim is already battling with.
- Support them with your words and actions. Respect their wishes for times of privacy or seclusion. Offer words of encouragement daily not hourly, and do not condemn.
- Respect changes in their ‘normal’. There may be changes in preferences of books, movies, events and such, as the victim now learns how to guard their emotions and mind.
- Understand that it is a wounded person you are relating to and appreciate healthy changes in their personality. Be willing to accommodate these changes as the victim develops, not only physically as in the case of a wound or broken limb but emotionally. Horse play may not be the best way to have fun.
o Offer your assistance and a listening ear even if they have not asked for help.
o Reassure them that they are safe.
o Help them with everyday tasks like cleaning, cooking, caring for the family.
o Don’t take their anger or other feelings personally.
o Don’t tell them that they are “lucky it wasn’t worse”. A traumatised person is not consoled by those statements rather, tell them that you are sorry such an event has occurred. You want to understand and assist them.