One of the things we deal with occasionally are incidences of break and enter. Not a whole lot really, partly because we just don’t get the volume of referrals as we do for other incidences. There are a lot of reasons for that, one being that it is not seen as traumatic as other crimes. There is some truth to that, sometimes. You would never compare a break and enter to a homicide but there is no way to tell how something that seems rather uneventful or routine will impact a person. The common thought process kind of goes like this; you weren’t home and you weren’t hurt so why are you upset or worried? you should be thankful because items can be replaced. The reality is that break and enters can have a huge impact on the victim, whether they were home or not. Not only do you lose property items or have to repair property items that were damaged (which is a nuisance to say the least, not to mention expensive at times), many people are left to deal with strong feelings of anger, fear and a sense of personal violation. A sense of safety is a necessity for moving forward in life. When a person feels unsafe they have a difficult time learning new things, participating in everyday life events and reciprocating in a relationship. Any event that rocks our sense of safety, justice, fairness and equality in the world can leave us feeling a little unsure. An event that for all intents and purposes, appears targeted specifically to us (as someone breaking into our home sure seems to be), can amplify that sense of danger and feelings of unease to levels that we may not be expecting. Not everyone will struggle but many people do. Sometimes they struggle because they already feel vulnerable (such as many members of the senior population seem to be). Sometimes they struggle because it triggers past negative experiences. Sometimes they struggle because they are isolated and this reinforces feelings of isolation even more. Sometimes they struggle because there are other issues they are already dealing with (from mental health to financial stress) and this just adds yet one more burden on top of a whole heap of ‘stuff’. Whatever the reason, it can catch a person by surprise. Following is a list of common feelings that anyone may experience after a break and enter;
- shock and disbelief – it’s hard to reconcile the reality that your place has been broken into and / or your stuff has been stolen
- sense of violation – this can be both financial and emotional and be difficult to shake at first
- fear – you might develop fears that your home or neighbourhood or work location is no longer safe. This can be extremely limiting and at times border on disabling
- anger and frustration – this can be directed at the criminals responsible, the justice system, your neighbours for not noticing or even society in general for allowing our communities for becoming unsafe
- stress – may also increase due to the increased demands that repairing and replacing items creates (along with any possible justice system involvement)
- anxiety – similar to stress, it is not uncommon for anxiety levels to increase following a break and enter (including exaggerated startle response, difficulties sleeping)
- guilt – wondering what you might have done to prevent this and may be reinforced by others who comment on how you should have done things differently
- isolation – your reactions may feel out of proportion to the event and if others are encouraging you to “get over it”, this can create a feeling of being alone in what you are experiencing.
Most of the behaviours listed are very temporary however it is important to spend time taking care of yourself afterwards until you once again regain a sense of equilibrium.