Healing the mental wounds of victims of crime

Recently the attack on a teenage girl by other teenage girls was in the news. The victim was attacked for about 30 minutes by a group of 3 girls who were egged on to perpetrate the attack by mother of one of the assaulters. Please read Mum encouraged daughter to assault girl for further details.

As I am an approved Victim Services counsellor I regularly counsel victims of crime. It is my experience that victims of such physical and emotional attacks, are traumatised and withdrawn. The victim finds their day to day life impacted emotional, physically and socially. The effect of the incidents makes them continuously relive the event and feel the pain of it over and over again.

As a result of the trauma the victims find it hard to trust people and they can develop fear of people (social phobia) as they fear that they would get hurt gain. The victims tend to restrict themselves to their home and do not venture out anymore. As a result, they may start losing friends and the zeal and desire to live a meaningful and respectful life. It’s generally observed that whenever such traumatic incidents take place victims stop doing their regular physical activities and stop engaging in hobbies or fun activities. This blocks the release of negative energy.

Their victims behaviour towards family sometimes becomes withdrawn, erratic and they can start showing symptoms of increasing irritability. The attack can impact the victim’s eating and sleeping patterns and personal hygiene.

If the above symptoms are exhibited, psychological assessment can come to indicate that the victim suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder OR Acute Stress Disorder OR Social Phobia. Victims exhibiting such symptoms need extensive psychological intervention to help them return back to normal life and overcome the trauma of the attack. Personally in such cases I work with a multi-strategic approach with the victims.

On one part I tackle their fear and phobias. On the other I help them identify the anomalies that have developed in their thought pattern and teach techniques for countering the negative thought patterns. I also teach them skills to cope with tricky situations.

While we work with the victim, on the parallel it is also important to involve the family of the victim so that they are aware what to expect from the victim and understand how they should support the victim to help them cope with the effects of the incident.


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