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Criminals do not fit into any certain category. Whether amateurs or professionals, criminals vary in sex, looks and ethnic group. But there are two things they all have in common - the element of surprise and the ability to strike fear in their victims.

Your initial reaction as a victim may be one of sheer surprise. You may protect yourself emotionally by rationalizing, "This can't be happening to me." Surprise, shock and disbelief are common reactions. Shock gives your body time to adjust to this event. 

But as the shock diminishes and you realize the seriousness of the situation, you may become frightened or even numb. You suddenly become concerned for your safety and the safety of others. You think about your family as you realize the unpredictability of the assailant. Victims often report they felt like they were watching themselves in a movie -- that the crime wasn't really happening. This reaction might help you to automatically respond to the assailant's instructions.

As your body adjusts the increased adrenaline flow, you may feel number or you may become tense and shaky. This is your "fight or flight" mechanism working - a response that prepares your body for immediate action. You may also experience a sudden warm feeling that is a result of your increased heart rate. It is good to keep in mind that the assailant is usually most interested in getting the money or whatever it is he wants and getting away as quickly as possible without a hassle.

Following the victimization, you may feel a combination of anger and guilt. You may feel angry at the offender for having the nerve to take something that does not belong to him, and endangering your life in the process. You may also be angry at being forced into a position of powerlessness and vulnerability.

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