Understanding Reactions to Traumatic events like Crime
When someone experiences a crime, it can be very traumatic. Understanding common emotions and physical reactions that people often go through can be helpful when you are supporting someone.
It is important to remember that everyone’s reaction is different and that some people will be affected more seriously than others.
After a crime, victims can have trouble taking in new information and may be easily overwhelmed. They may need to ask the same question more than once and some information or decisions may need to wait until things are more settled. With their permission, you may be able to help by taking note of important contact details for services and gathering information or documents they may need later.
In some cases, particularly for serious crimes, the justice process can last for many years. For some victims, each new stage such as an offender being charged, having to go to court or the offender being released from prison, can bring up old memories. The victim may need extra support at these times.
What you can do to provide support
- believe them
- spend time with them
- listen attentively
- tell them you’re sorry to hear about what happened, and that you want to help them
- help them feel safe
- help them with everyday tasks, like cleaning, cooking, caring for family and childcare, to give them some private time.
What to avoid when offering support
- do not be afraid to ask questions and to explore the issues
- do not take angry outbursts personally
- do not say things like “lucky it wasn’t worse” or “just get on with your life”
- do not say things that imply it was their fault, for example “What were you doing there at that time anyway?” or “You will know not to do that again!”
- do not be impatient – different people recover at different rates.
Dealing with the justice system
Dealing with criminal justice services like the police and courts can be stressful, particularly at a time when victims are already upset.
In most circumstances, victims can have a support person to help them when they report crime, go to court or have other contact with services. This is always a decision for the victim, but you may be able to help by asking them what kind of support they want.
Reporting a crime
If anyone is in immediate danger or a crime is currently occurring, please call police through the respective contact numbers
Some victims may choose not to report a crime. It is important to understand that, particularly with crimes such as family violence or sexual assault, the decision to report some crimes can be a very difficult one.
Sometimes, it is not always clear if the behavior that is going on is a crime. For example, with some situations of family violence, there may not be any direct physical violence, but rather a pattern of behaviors that makes a person feel unsafe. A victim may need to document what is going on and may ask family and friends to record any examples of behavior that may be part of the problem.
Even if someone does not want or is not ready to report a crime, they can still get help. A Police officer Can help by;
- providing information about options for reporting a crime
- explaining steps victims can take to improve their personal safety
- connecting the victim to appropriate counselling or medical services
- providing advice on eligibility for financial or other types of assistance.
Where possible, it is best to encourage a victim to contact services themselves. This way advice and support can be provided to meet their needs and protect their privacy.
Looking after yourself
If you have a close friend or loved one that you are supporting following a serious crime, it can be very challenging – particularly if the effects of the crime go on for a long time.
It is important, while offering support, to remember to look after yourself. If you need counselling or other support services you can get help.
Victims of Crime Helpline
Open 8am–11pm, every day
Call 1800 200
The Family Sexual Violence Unit Boroko Police Station , NCD:
Open 24 hours, every day