I don't feel like I'm coping
Being a victim of crime can be frightening and upsetting for anyone, not just children and young people, so if you are finding it difficult to cope with the experience you have been through you are not alone.
You may be feeling fear and anger, you may be depressed or lonely, and you may have lost your confidence or your self-esteem.
It’s okay – none of these feelings are unusual. There are different coping strategies you can try to get you through this time, and lots of people who can give you help and advice.
What are coping strategies?
It may take a little while to work out the best way for you to cope with what’s happened – different things work for different people – but things will get better.
There are two main types of strategy to help you cope with the effects of crime – those that are based around what people can do for you, and those that focus on what you can do to help yourself. Don’t be frightened to ask for help; there are people who are specially trained to help you overcome some of the issues you face and deal with the feelings you are experiencing, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed if you need their help.
Getting help from others
There are lots of people who can help you to put together a coping strategy, and a good place to start is with your doctor. You can make an appointment and go along to talk to them about what has happened, how it has made you feel, and what help you think you need. The doctor may refer you to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) team. They have a wide range of different skills and training, and lots of experience of working with children and young people who may be struggling with emotional and mental health issues. They include counsellors, outreach workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and nurses.
If you would prefer to talk to someone on the phone rather than visit your doctor, there are a number of organisations who have helplines and online forums designed to provide you with good advice and support. These include ChildLine, The Mix; you can find a full list of these and other organisations on the Young Minds website.
If you feel comfortable trying to deal with the effects of crime on your own, rather than talking to anyone else, there are also a number of self-help strategies which you can consider. For example:
- Young Minds offer advice on how exercise can help your mental health, and on how you can feel more confident and boost your self-esteem, as well as information and support on a wide range of issues based around looking after yourself.
- there is a series of self-help therapies offered online by the NHS tackling issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, low confidence and depression.
- The Site also sets out self-help strategies on topics such as building self-esteem and coping with panic attacks.
- ChildLine outlines steps to help you cope with anxiety and panic attacks.
So there is plenty of help out there, whether you want to talk to someone or try and develop your own self-help strategy. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that your choice is based on what you think will work best for you, rather than any worries about being embarrassed to ask for help, or a belief that you’re to blame for what has happened. It’s important to keep reminding yourself that becoming a victim of crime, and experiencing the feelings you’re now coming to terms with, are not your fault.
What will work for me?
It’s difficult to know until you try and sometimes you need to try a few things or keep going for a while even if it doesn’t feel like it’s working straight away. There are people who can help you to find out which approach might be best for you. Talk to your Victim Support worker about how you feel, and which approach you think you feel most comfortable with.
Avoiding negative coping strategies
Sometimes people try to deal with their feelings by using coping strategies that might have other negative effects. These can include self-harming, taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol. While these may help you to block out or ignore your experiences of crime in the short-term, the long-term problems could become more serious, damaging both your physical and mental health. You can find more information on coping with self-harm, as well as advice on how to stop taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol, on the ChildLine website.