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People react differently to crisis. But victims of crime report some common reactions you may be interested in knowing.

Following a victimization, you may experience increased concern for the safety of your family and yourself. Your family's daily whereabouts and home security becomes increasingly important. Stress that results from victimization may hamper your ability to handle everyday problems. You may feel overwhelmed at times, and you may be more sensitive about family and personal problems than usual.

Some victims report an unexplained irritability that often is the result of displaced anger toward the assailant and the after-effects of the crime. Changes in eating and sleeping habits are common. These are all normal reactions to a crisis situation and you should not be alarmed or angry with yourself for not recovering more quickly. If you are traumatized because of the incident and feel unable to cope with it, you may consider getting professional help.

In your home or on the street, you will naturally be more cautious. You may be suspicious and watch people more closely. At first, you may have difficulty concentrating on your everyday affairs. You may find yourself looking for the suspect or even thinking you have "spotted" him if you see someone who even slightly resembles him. Loud voices, unusual noises or other disturbances similar to those that occurred during the victimization rekindle the fear experienced. You could be one of the many who go over the crime again and again thinking about what you might have done differently, what could have happened, or what could have gone wrong. Victims tend to become more upset with what could have happened than what actually did. Thinking about it is okay, however, talking about it with someone trained to help can aid you in putting the incident into proper perspective so you can get through it easier.

Just as everyone reacts to a crisis differently, recovery from a crisis and the amount of time it takes is different from person to person. Recovery from the trauma of a crime is like recovering from any adult life crisis, such as the loss of a loved one or illness in the family. Factors affecting recovery include internal strength, support of family and/or friends, how you were treated as a victim and your present state of mind. You might need to take steps to increase your feelings of security or control by getting crime prevention information or establishing a Neighborhood Watch Program.

When you feel ready, you may want to contact someone close to you, or a Crime Victim Assistance Unit, so you can talk freely about the victimization. It is helpful to have others listen to you so you can ventilate your feelings and fears. Not everyone, however, has a need to talk. Some people are able to work through their feelings alone. Only you know which way is best for you.

Above all, REMEMBER that the feelings you are experiencing are common and normal and will pass with time. Victims often turn their anger and frustration inward and expect too much of themselves too soon. You must take care of yourself, both mentally and physically.

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