Common Reactions to Being a Victim

Being a victim of crime or tragedy

No one expects to become a victim of crime or tragedy. We understand that whether you have been physically hurt, threatened or have been victimized in some way, you may need information to assist you. 

Most people who have had their lives disrupted by crime or tragic event, experience normal physical and emotional reactions such as:

  • difficulty falling asleep or waking often during the night
  • change in appetite
  • headaches or other pains, tension, fatigue or exhaustion
  • shock
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • crying
  • need to be alone/or surrounded by others
  • pacing/heightened state of physical agitation or irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • replaying the event over and over in your mind
  • nightmares
  • blaming yourself or others who are not responsible
  • emotional outbursts
  • mood swings
  • easily startled
  • distrust
  • anger
  • panic
  • anxiety
  • sadness/withdrawal
  • feeling overwhelmed 
  • fear
  • guilt 
  • emotional numbness

This list is an example and does not include all the possible reactions one may experience.  These are normal and common reactions that may be experienced.

Connecting to others

You may want to withdraw from others, but isolation makes things worse. Connecting to others that you can trust will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.

If you would like to speak to a Crisis Counsellor with regards to your experience please call the Victim Support Unit at 613-236-1222 Ext. 2223*

*Please be aware we do not operate a 24 hour Crisis Line. You may be required to leave a message and one of our Crisis Counselors will return your call as soon as possible.

Following a trauma

Some things to do that may help following a trauma:

  • try to return to your usual routine

  • try to get 8 hours of sleep per night

  • eat well balanced meals at regular times

  • avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary foods

  • drink water

  • physical activity  (physical exercise carries undisputable benefits, however, consult with your health professional to make sure you do not overextend yourself)

  • relax - spend time with the people you love or feel comfortable with , in a place that makes you happy

  • ask for support

  • it’s important to talk about your feelings and ask for the help you need;  turn to a trusted family member, friend, counsellor, or clergy

  • make an effort to participate in social activities that promote your well-being

  • do “normal” things with other people, things that have nothing to do with the traumatic experience; if you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect.

  • join a support group; being with others who are facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation and hearing how others cope can help inspire you

  • pace yourself – learn to say NO

  • don’t make any big life changes or decisions, immediately following a crisis, unless they are aimed at improving your personal safety

  • ask for help if things seem overwhelming

Safety planning to reduce the risk of being re-victimized

If you have ongoing concerns for your safety, planning can be provided with the Victim Crisis Unit along with our Community Partners, including the Supportlink program of Ottawa Victim Services, to develop a personalized safety plan. Please contact our unit for your safety concerns.