Supporting your loved one
People react to crime in many ways – both adults and children can be seriously affected. Fear, worry, guilt and anger are just some of the feelings that crime can cause, for both children and adults. But lots of other reactions are common too and quite normal.
Men are just as likely as women to be upset by a crime and different people in the same family may react differently. No one is too young or old to feel shock, fear and distress. Sometimes your loved one may find it particularly difficult to understand what has happened and why they feel the way they do.
Crime can trigger physical symptoms as well as emotional ones. Your loved one may complain about headaches, stomach pains, feeling sick and general aches and pains. Other reactions may include problems with eating or sleeping, having a hard time with school or work, a fear of the dark, or avoiding other people. It may not always be clear that these problems are related to the crime.
People are much more able to come to terms with a hurtful experience when they have the love and support of their family. It is important for you to think about your loved one’s needs and to be sensitive to any changes in their behaviour and feelings after a crime. If you were affected by the crime as well, it might be difficult for you to realise that your loved one might not be affected in the same was as you.
If you (or other members of your family) have become anxious or distressed by the incident, these feelings can be picked up by your loved one. This may make them feel more anxious and afraid. It is important for you to address your own reaction to the crime.
Victim Support Scotland provides support for both victims of crime and their loved ones. Contact us to discuss how we can help you.
People can find it difficult to tell family, friends and colleagues about the crime. They may have many complex emotions, such as guilt and shame. Try not to dismiss their worries but let them know that you are available to talk.
Your loved one may be worried about how you might react. You may need to reassure them that what happened was not their fault. You may feel that talking to them about the crime could make things worse, but not discussing it can sometimes leave people to wonder why nothing is being said and this may confuse or worry them more. Avoiding the problem may allow fears to build up over time.
Try not to rush your loved one into returning to their old routines or habits. People need to move at their own pace and encouraging them slowly and in stages may be more helpful. New activities can sometimes help people to feel more positive, but it is vital that you let them move at their own speed. Give them plenty of time to come to terms with their feelings. Reassurance will help your loved one to feel confident in a difficult situation. Getting advice from your GP may be helpful, especially if they have worries or health problems that you cannot help with.
Don’t forget, Victim Support Scotland is here to help your loved one and support you too. You can read more about the support we provide or contact us using the methods below.