Victims of crime generally have to deal with a number of consequences, both of a psychological as well as a physical nature. It is widespread knowledge that crime may cause financial damage and physical injury; however, the psychological implications are known to few.
Victims of crime who suffer from psychological trauma often describe the way they feel as follows:
“Nothing is the same as it used to be.”
The symptoms concealed in this statement indicate a psychological trauma.
The term trauma originates from the Greek word for injury. A traumatic experience is described as a directly experienced or observed occurrence, which is accompanied by fear of death or danger of physical integrity of self or another person and feelings of helplessness and unprotected surrender, where one’s own possibilities of action are perceived as inadequate in mastering the situation (according to DSM-IV, Göttingen 1996).
This feeling of helplessness contributes to a permanent trauma of one’s strong self-confidence and understanding of the world that is described as follows [defined in 4 statements (Sebastian 2014)]:
- I can rely on the other people and the world;
- Life will do no harm to me – and others – innocently;
- Life is predictable;
- I can fend for myself.
Since victims of crime have something inflicted upon them by other people as the result of a crime, some victims develop a deep mistrust towards others. In extreme cases, this can result in them withdrawing from society completely. A feeling of helplessness may arise. Ultimately, this can limit the ability to cope with one’s own life.
Victims of crime often suffer from psychosomatic consequences, i.e. physical reactions to emotional distress. Certain stimuli such as sounds evocative of the crime not only trigger memories, but also cause stress reactions in the body, such as a rapid heartbeat or rising blood pressure.