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SPD Home / Safety and Prevention / Support for Survivors of Crime

WhAT TO DO AFTER A CRIME

STEPS TO TAKE IMMEDIATELY AFTER A CRIME

Sometimes injuries that do no seem serious at first can get worse later. As soon as possible after the assault, see a doctor or go to a hospital even if you don't think you've been seriously injured.

Document the crime

Photograph visible physical injuries such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, torn clothing, and so on. Keep a list of the names of police officers, hospital workers, and court officials to whom you speak, and write down what they say.

If you have been victimized, call 9-1-1

If you have not reported a crime right after it happens, you can also report the incident by going to the police precinct where the incident occurred, calling 9-1-1, or the non-emergency number (206) 625-5011.

If you are being abused at home, make an escape plan in case you have to leave quickly.

Keep medication and important papers, such as identification, driver's license, social security, Medicaid card, keys, money and checkbook, with you, or put them where you know you can get them. Figure out who you can stay with or where you can go in an emergency. Get information on your legal rights and options.

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF AFTER A CRIME

Taking care of yourself after you've survived a crime, is the most important thing you can do. Talk about what has happened to you with supportive friends, partners, or family members. Eat, sleep and be respectful of the messages your body is giving you.

Remember that you are not alone. Other people have experienced similar types of violence and survived. Talk to caring individuals at the Crisis Clinic to find out how to find survivor’s groups throughout Seattle and King County.

Ways to take care of yourself:

  • Sit quietly and breathe deeply.
  • Physical exercise (if possible), alternated with relaxation, will alleviate some of the physical reactions, such as feeling tense or sleeplessness.
  • Structure your time.
  • Don't label yourself as "crazy;" you are normal and having normal reactions to an extreme situation.
  • Talk to people--talking is a very healing medicine. Talk with a loved one or a counselor who will support you and really listen.
  • Be aware of numbing the pain with drugs or alcohol. Be careful not to complicate the issue with a substance abuse problem.
  • Keep a journal; write your way through sleepless hours.
  • Do things that feel good to you.
  • Supplement your diet with vitamins.
  • Don't make any major life changes, but make as many daily decisions as possible, which gives you a feeling of control over your life (i.e., if someone asks you what you want to eat, answer them, even if you are not sure.)
  • To heal from traumatic stress, it is important to allow yourself time to grieve your losses, such as physical injuries or strong negative feelings, and to give yourself permission to heal at your own pace.

NORMAL REACTIONS TO EXPECT AFTER A CRIME

t is not unusual for people who are impacted by serious crimes to experience some significant changes to the way they think, feel and behave. Below are some reactions common to people who experience traumatic stress as a result of a crime. They may vary in intensity and duration and may occur whether or not you are injured. Although these thoughts, feelings and actions can be very upsetting, it is important to remember that they are normal reactions to abnormal situations.

Thoughts

  • Recurring dreams or nightmares.
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering.
  • Cannot get the event off your mind.

Feelings

  • Feeling emotionally numb or withdrawn.
  • Lack of enjoyment in everyday activities.
  • Feeling depressed.
  • Feeling anxious.
  • Mistrust of others.
  • Anger, including thoughts of revenge.
  • Feelings of helplessness.

Behaviors

  • Keeping overly busy to avoid thinking about the event.
  • Isolating yourself from other people and/or former activities.
  • Changes in the way you sleep and eat.
 
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