If you have been the victim of a crime, you are likely to be experiencing a sense of shock and denial not long after the event has occurred. This is an automatic way of protecting yourself from the trauma you have just experienced. Your protective denial may be apparent with some feelings of being dazed, confused and stunned. Other ways in which you may attempt to protect yourself from the impact of victimization may involve your feeling numb and disconnected from life in general. Your thoughts, emotions and behaviors are being affected by the trauma you have experienced. You may have repeated racing thoughts about what has happened to you. Concentrating on anything else may be difficult for you. You are going to feel anxious, fearful, depressed and overwhelmed. You may be aware of responsibilities you have but you are likely to find that you are unable to remain on task. It will be hard for you to maintain a normal daily routine as you work to avoid thoughts about various chores. You will probably be easily agitated and argumentative with others because your frustration tolerance will be low.
It is possible that you will have physical characteristics as well. Things like a rapid heart beat, chest pain, abdominal distress, nausea and headaches are not uncommon. If you do experience these symptoms, I will encourage you to consult your health care provider to rule out any possible additional health related issues.
You may be tempted to medicate yourself with alcohol or unprescribed drugs to help combat your feelings of helplessness. I will, of course, discourage these ineffective attempts. You will want to know how much time it will take you to recover. There will be no way to tell how long you may have these symptoms. When you are the victim of a crime, it is expected that your previous life experiences will affect the length of your recovery process.
I will help you to talk in detail about what has happened to you. We will sensitively explore your recollection of the facts and the emotional reactions you had at the time. We will also talk about prior traumas you have experienced and whether or not they were resolved. We will explore your coping abilities, how you view yourself and how you evaluate your current environment. We can even help you to use a "coping card" on which specific strategies can be placed for your later use. (These may include reminders like "Pace your breathing, Focus on a task at hand, You can manage this or This will go away). We will discuss the importance of your self care (eating, sleeping and exercising) and the resources you have to assist you. I will help you to develop, and maintain, a healthy social support system. You will eventually be able to rebuild your confidence so that you can see yourself, and others, in a world that feels less fearful.
You should not underestimate the importance of ongoing profesional counseling so that I can reinforce your positive and reality-based self talk and help you adapt to a more encouraging and optimistic world. You can do this. I will help.