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Reactions to becoming a victim of crime

Many people have experienced the impact of crime in one way or another. They may have experienced crime directly or they may be close to someone who has experienced crime. It may have been a property crime like burglary or theft of a motor vehicle. It may be a personal crime such as assault or armed robbery.

The information on this website aims to give you information about the impact of crime, how to access information and services and the criminal justice system. 

Telling Someone

People may find it hard to talk about what has happened to them.

Sometimes people do not tell anyone when they have been the victim of a sexual or domestic violence offence. It may be because they are scared or ashamed or they think they are to blame for what has happened. It may be that the person hurting them has threatened them or someone close to them if they tell. They may worry that things will get worse if they tell someone or they may worry about how their family or friends may react.

There is help available.

If you have someone you trust you could talk to them about what’s happened. Perhaps you would prefer to speak with a counselor or to tell your doctor. Whoever it is you tell, let them know what you want them to do and how they can help you.

If you would prefer to speak with a counselor, you can speak to someone at VSACT or someone from another support service. Remember there is support available. As well as giving you someone to talk to, the services know about the justice process and can help you through it.

Click the contact us button for our contact details or, if you would like to contact another service our Links page may help you find a service that suits you and someone you can talk to about how you are feeling. 

Looking after yourself

Regardless of the type of crime, the impact can produce a lot of different emotions and reactions in you and those close to you.

Dealing with the immediate effects of the crime and your own emotions and thoughts can leave you feeling confused and exhausted.

Crime affects people in lots of ways and what you experience will be different to other people, and it can even change day to day. You may feel that on certain days you are coping, and on other days you feel you are unable to deal with anything. You may find that a memory or an event will trigger emotions felt during or immediately after the crime.

There are some simple things you can do to take care of yourself:

  • do things that make you feel safe and secure
  • talk to people who can support you
  • if you can, continue your normal routine
  • exercise
  • relax
  • rest and eat properly
  • write down your thoughts and feelings

Keeping safe

The time after a crime has been committed can be a distressing period and it is important to make yourself feel as safe as possible. There are some things that may help:

  • find a safe place as soon as possible. This can be a police station, a parent, friend or neighbor’s house, your own home, a refuge or any other place where you feel safe;
  • check yourself for injuries and see a doctor;
  • discuss your safety concerns with your AFP Case Officer;
  • consider applying for a protection order;
  • think about making a safety plan;
  • if you need to think about security around your home, further information is available through the home safety program;
  • support services are available to assist you in applying for a protection order.

Medical Care

If you are a victim of a physical crime it is important to see a doctor or go to the hospital, even if you don’t think you have been hurt.

If you are the victim of an assault then you should go to the nearest hospital, or see your GP.

If you have been the victim of a sexual offence, the Forensic and Medical Sexual Assault Care (FAMSAC) Unit at the Canberra Hospital can carry out a medical checkup for you, even if you have not reported the incident to police.

If you are considering a forensic medical examination after a sexual assault then it is important to go to the FAMSAC Unit at the Canberra Hospital as soon as possible, preferably not longer than 72 hours after the assault.

You can take a support person to the examination if you wish, who could be someone you know or a support person from the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.

FAMSAC aims to maintain confidentiality and privacy and all records are kept confidential and not linked to the main hospital files. Once a case is reported to the police, medical notes can be requested as part of the investigation.

FAMSAC will assist in managing your medical concerns, can carry out testing for sexually transmitted infections and provide emergency contraception where pregnancy may be of concern.

Follow up and after care can be provided or you may decide to see your own doctor.