Victim/Witness Reactions For Family/Friends

The initial shock following a crime, sudden death, or other trauma is a harsh and painful reality for everyone involved. Some normal reactions are:
  • Shock and disbelief; numbness
  • Unwanted memories
  • Anxiety or panicky feelings
  • Feeling ‘lost’ or ‘out of it’
  • Irritability (angry or near tears)
  • Blaming or doubting oneself, thoughts like, "If only I had"
  • Nightmares; sleep disturbances
  • Feeling responsible for what happened
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anger
  • Crying for ‘no apparent reason’
  • Re-living the trauma (flashbacks)
  • Problems concentrating
  • Depression and sadness
  • Losing interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Disruption of family life
  • Withdrawal or isolation
  • Unexplained headaches, nausea, or physical pain

It is possible to experience a normal life after a crime or tragedy. As most people work through their feelings about the event, they begin to accept that they did the best they could under the circumstances, and have renewed energy to focus on their lives again.

For Family & Friends

Listen carefully and spend time with the traumatized person. Do what you can to help the person feel safe and remind him or her that confusing emotions are normal.

Offer assistance with specific tasks or errands (the victim often feels unfocused and unable to make decisions about tasks to be accomplished). Patiently offer options without taking control. Reestablishing control is an important part of the healing process for the victim.

A traumatized person is not comforted by statements such as, "You are lucky it wasn't work" and may feel blamed by questions like, "Why were you there?" Instead, say you are sorry such an event has occurred. Reassure the victim that it was not his or her fault. Ask for help in understanding how the victim feels and what you can do to help.

Help the victim find out what public services are available, and show support by acocmpanying him or her to any criminal justice proceedings.

Even if you were not the direct victim, remember that people who care about victims often become co-victims emotionally. Find people who can support and listen to you. Ask for help when you need it. Victim Services 303-438-6429 or 303-438-6471 can be a helpful resource for you also.

Remember, each victim and co-victim experiences the consequences of crime and trauma differently. Try to be patient with the different ways in which each person copes and the different rate at which we all heal.