How being robbed may affect you

Regardless of whether you were physically injured or not, you may experience reactions which are confusing and/or frightening. Family and friends may not understand what you’re going through. These reactions are normal and generally decrease over time.

Robberies are abnormal events and unusual reactions are likely very normal. Your reaction to a robbery may depend upon:

  • the suddenness or degree or warning;
  • the extent to which your personal safety is threatened;
  • the behaviour of the robbers;
  • the number of previous robberies in which you were involved;
  • your level of stress prior to the robbery;
  • your state of physical and emotional health; or
  • the amount of support you receive immediately after the robbery.

Many of your reactions during a robbery will be automatic as you may not be conscious of what you are doing. Events may seem to be in slow motion. Several minutes may seem like an hour. You may focus exclusively on one or two aspects of what is happening and not notice other events occurring.

Some common reactions are:

  • fear for your personal safety or the safety of colleagues;
  • helplessness about being unable to do anything;
  • confusion about what to do or how to respond to the robbers' demands;
  • anger at having to surrender money or goods;
  • concern the robber may remember who you are; or
  • physical reactions such as trembling or the inability to move.

Robberies may have very adverse effects on a victim. The direct or implied violence may cause personal reactions and feelings a victim is not used to, regardless of the degree of violence. Victims may personalise the robbery and regard their reactions as unusual. Stress may occur.

After a robbery you may experience a wide range of feelings such as:

  • Feel unsafe and vulnerable when out in public or home;
  • Become very watchful and wary when you are out;
  • Panic attacks or mood swings;
  • Flashbacks of the robbery, perhaps triggered by a noise behind you;
  • Physical problems from injuries;
  • Headaches or stomach aches as a result of stress;
  • Feel like you can’t trust people;
  • Feel angry or frustrated;
  • Constantly thinking about the crime;
  • Loss of self-confidence;
  • Become easily tearful;
  • Develop sleeping difficulties or confusing or difficult dreams; or
  • Change the way you do certain things before the robbery.
  • Victims often feel that they should be able to cope on their own. Only "weak" people obtain professional help. This is an incorrect assumption.

    People who have been severely victimised frequently have the feeling they are "going crazy". It is important for victims to receive assurance, it was the robbery, not them, which caused their distress. If you are still experiencing intrusive reactions some time after the robbery, consider contacting a support person. A list of support services is located at the end of this document.