Common Physical and Emotional Reactions after Crime

Victims of crime may have strong emotional or physical reactions after the crime. The reactions people have after a crime depend on the person, the crime, and many other factors.

Sometimes, these common reactions can make things victims used to do (such as their jobs) even harder. These reactions can also make dealing with the legal system harder. Crime victims may find talking to a professional, such as a doctor or counselor, helpful. Click here for support and information around these common reactions.

Below are some common reactions to crime.

Common emotional reactions after crime:

  • Problems remembering details about the crime (for example, the order in which things happened).
  • Problems remembering information people give you after the crime.
  • Feeling nervous, fearful, and anxious.
  • Feeling hopeless about the future, detached from others, and emotionally numb.
  • Decreased interest in everyday activities.
  • Feeling jumpy or easily startled, on guard or hyper-alert.
  • Having trouble concentrating.
  • Having disturbing dreams, memories or flashbacks.
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Having outbursts of anger or rage.
  • Emotional swings — such as crying and then laughing.
  • Feeling ashamed, betrayed, and isolated.
  • Having suicidal thoughts.
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.

Common physical reactions after crime:

  • Aches and pains.
  • Changes in sleep, appetite and sex drive.
  • Being easily startled.
  • Having sudden sweating or heart palpitations.
  • Having upset stomach, trouble eating, constipation or diarrhea.
  • Catching a cold or getting sick more often.
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Having severe headaches.