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Victims of Street Crime

Victims of Street Crime – Psychological Recovery

Andrew T. Austin Training | Metaphors of Movement Training | EMDR Training | Integral Eye Movement Therapy Training | Andy Austin

The level of psychological upset and trauma that can result from street crime is not necessarily proportional to the level of psychological and emotional disturbance that can follow.

For example, a mugging that on paper simply equates to, “he ran past me and snatched my phone as he went” can leave a person with a sense of unreality, fear and shock. Subsequent mental replaying of events may lead the person to start wondering if they should have done more, taken more decisive action, been more of a hero and so on.

Modern day street crime is often far more complicated than the simple headline that gets reported.

For example, not all street muggings are carried out by perpetrators simply for financial gain.

There may be a degree of hostility, showing off, intimidation, “one-upmanship” and so on played out by the attacker or attackers.

The assault may start off being played out in a friendly, almost courteous or caring manner, trapping the victim in a role from which psychologically it is very hard to escape. The level of violence involved may be completely unnecessary in order to simply relieve the victim of their property.

The nature and intention of the assault may carry a huge degree of deliberate intimidation and humiliation of the victim.

As one victim told me, “It wasn’t about how much money they could get from me, they did what they did to show off to each other who could be the biggest cunt.”

This is recreational violence perpetrated upon an unwilling, unsuspecting and non-consenting victim.

The victim may not be a vulnerable person as such, but the situation in which the assault takes place provides the required vulnerability.

Assailants may laugh at each other’s behaviour, offering each other encouragement and instruction. Later they may be shown to have boasted about their attack on social networks, text messages. Some assailants may video the assault and upload it to internet video sites.

For many victims of assault, the legal process may leave a lot to be desired. The majority of street attacks remain un-prosecuted and sometimes the courtroom process may carry its own trauma and the punishment meted out to the assailants may not seem adequate.

Common problems following assault:

  • flashbacks and nightmares
  • anxiety
  • fear of reprisals, repeated assault, further attacks – “they know where i live.”
  • being labelled a “grass” or ‘snitch” for reporting the assault
  • feelings of vulnerability and weakness
  • where physical injury has occurred, lasting damage may occur leaving debility or increasing concerns about future vulnerability

For some people, there is an issue of identity. “I am a coward” or “I am weak” for not standing up more effectively to the attacker(s).

In some instances, concerns about disease transmission may be valid where contamination from spitting, blood, urine or other bodily secretions occur.

For some people, it is the first and only time they have run away from a situation. For them, the action of running away may be significant – it makes a statement about their masculinity. The humiliation of running away is too much to bear.

Self-recriminations are commonplace – “why did I put myself in such a situation”, “If only I hadn’t…”

A lot of “If only’s…” are common. Basically, the recurring theme is, “I, the victim, should have behaved differently.”

In court, the behaviour of the victim is often examined, in detail, by the defence of the accused. The victim gets blamed.

The court case may occur many months or more than a year after the incident, this time delay can bring about its own difficulties.

It can be hard to move on when you are waiting for it to all be over. Then come the appeals. If imprisoned, the assailant will be released at some point. It all seems as though it is never-ending.

Victims of crime may feel that friends, family and colleagues now see them differently. They are now a “victim” – there is an identity change, and this can be hard to deal with. Facing other people can be difficult and the victim of crime may shy away from friends, colleagues and loved ones.

In some instances, the victim might have had no choice but to flee the scene, leaving a friend or acquaintance at the hands of the assailants.

It is not uncommon for the victim to fear either unnecessarily escalating the situation or risk legal penalty themselves should they try to take action to help themselves.

For some victims, especially, older, fitter males, it can be difficult to come to terms with the demographics of the assailants who may themselves be young teenagers of slight build. Increasingly in recent years, the genders of group attacks is mixed with young females taking part. The age of the group has little correlation to the level of experience such individuals have in delivering intimidation, humiliation and violence.

Attacks also happen in daylight, in public places surrounded by passive bystanders. It is an uncomfortable reality that if attacked in a public place, you are less likely to receive assistance from bystander intervention. Rather disturbingly, the probability of bystander
intervention decreases proportionally against an increase in the number of bystanders (i.e. the more people about, the less likely you are to be helped).

Coming to terms with the absence of assistance can be very hard to deal with.

If you want help to deal with the psychological and emotional stresses of all this, call me or send over the form, and I’ll see what I can do for you.

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