‘Victim’ is a very broad term and can describe anyone who has been in a situation they would not have chosen and is emotionally or physically shaken up as a result. However often the term is used to refer more specifically to those who have been victims of violence in some way – and this is what ‘victim support’ often caters for.
If you have been the victim of an attack then you might have been mugged in the street, beaten in a pub fight, or viciously attacked for no real reason. This of course can be a highly traumatic experience, and while you will need time to heal physically from your wounds, you might require even more time in order to heal psychologically and overcome the mental trauma. For many being attacked in the street can be enough to make them scared of going outside, or to make them jumpy and upset whenever they do. Some people will have nightmares for a long time afterwards, difficulty trusting people, or feelings of guilt and that they ‘deserved’ what happened. Should the attack have occurred inside your own house then this can make you feel even more unsafe even while you are home.
As such it is very important to get support and to try and think about what happened in the right way. Here we will look at how you can help yourself to overcome such a trauma and start to feel psychologically normal again.
Charities and Government Compensation: There are many charities and government support schemes for those who have been victims of attack. If you have reported the incident to the police (which you definitely should have) then this should mean you name is on a database and made available to victim support groups. You will likely be contacted over the following days and offered help and information on how you can get compensation and information if you should wish. If you chase this up it may be possible to get monetary compensation – while this will not help you to overcome the psychological trauma, it can still be a nice ‘consolation’. Additionally if you have had to have time off of work, or pay for some kind of medical support, then this can help to cover those costs. You might also be able to get help from specialised charities, but it is the victim support groups that will help you to get in touch with these organisations and to fill out all of the relevant forms. If you are not contacted by such a group after a couple of days, then search online for victim support in your area and make first contact.
Where You Can Get Support
Counselling: If you have been seriously psychologically disturbed by what happened then you may need counselling. This is very important if you are having difficulties going outside or are afraid when you see ‘rough’ looking people in the street. If in any way it is impacting on the way you live your life then you should seek counselling and they can help you come to terms with what happened – realise it was an isolated event – and get back to living life normally without fear.
Martial Arts: Something that many people find helpful when they’ve been in a fight is to take up a martial art. This teaches them self defence so that they might be more capable of defending themselves in the street. Perhaps more importantly though it can increase your confidence and make you feel more secure to go outside and interact with the general public again.
Police: Of course you should report your incident to the police and they can offer a lot of support to. You should be given the number of an officer who is dealing with your case and you should be able to contact them if ever you have a problem. This will help you to feel safer outside, and it will also mean that someone is looking into what happened to you – and if the person who attacked you is punished this can often make you feel a lot safer and give you a certain ‘closure’ that allows you to move on. Ensure then that you cooperate with the police and think of anything that might be able to help them with your case.
Tips for Coping
While these organisations and groups can offer you support and help you to deal emotionally with what is happened to you, it will not always be able to help you with every aspect of the coping process. Some of that is down to you, the actions you choose to take and the way you choose to view the situation once it is happened to you. Here then are some tips that can help you to feel safer in future, and to help you deal with the emotional and psychological aspect of an attack.
Carry an Alarm: An alarm is a great little device that can literally save your life but that very few people actually choose to carry on them. A rape alarm or attack alarm basically emits an incredibly loud sound in excess of 100 decibels often to draw attention to the situation and to startle the attacker. This then means that if you get attacked you can easily sound the alarm and this should be enough to startle the attacker, potentially cause them to stop what they are doing for fear of being seen and maybe attract people who can come and help. Just having one of these can make you feel much safer.
Carry Mace: Many women carry mace and this is a great way to defend themselves against potential attackers who are physically stronger than them. Simply spray the mace in the eye of the attacker and they will be blinded and hurt for long enough that you can get away.
Do Not Blame Yourself: It is highly important that you do not blame yourself for the attack or see yourself really as a ‘victim’ as such. If you view yourself as a victim then you will see yourself as someone likely to be attacked, and it can be very upsetting if you feel somehow responsible. Instead recognise that what happened was likely simply luck of the draw. The attacker was violent and very probably drunk or on drugs – you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Get Support From Friends: If you don’t tell anyone what you’re going through then you can’t expect them to be able to help you. Your friends will likely be more than willing to offer support and will want to help you get through this difficult time. Tell them what you’re experiencing then, and ask them to come out with you and offer you support when necessary and accompany you on outings etc.
Force Yourself to Go Out: The danger is that you avoid going out as a result of being afraid and that you this way do not get to enjoy life to the fullest and miss out on lots of experiences you might otherwise have had. The first thing to do then is to force yourself to go out as early as possible after the attack – do not put it off or it will just become harder as time goes on. At the same time you can overcome initial fear by building up to events – start off going out in the day with friends until you feel confident enough to go out when it is dark and/or on your own. If you have trouble doing this, then counselling such as cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to change the way you think about your situation.
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