The psychological impact of a break-in

Home break-ins can have an extreme physical and psychological impact on us. That’s why many of us take a steps to prevent intruders from entering our homes: from investing in security doors to installing alarm systems and CCTV cameras, there are many things we can do to protect your property. But, if the worst should happen, what can an invasion of privacy do to your mind?

Feelings of contamination and violation

The thought of a stranger rummaging through personal and private belongings can leave victims feeling contaminated and violated. In fact, it’s not uncommon for victims to dispose of their possessions in a bid to cleanse their house following an intrusion.

Those burgled also tend to feel extremely vulnerable, particularly if they don’t know who entered their home without permission or how they did it.  In turn, this can lead to paranoia, suspicion, false accusations and just a general sense of unease with everyone, including close friends, family members and neighbours.

A persistent sense of fear

A person ought to feel safe in their own home, but those who have experienced a burglary are often plagued by a persistent sense of fear they can’t shake off. While leaving home makes them worry that another break-in might occur, staying in alone (particularly overnight) can lead to severe anxiety. In fact, if the criminals are not caught, feelings of fear can be more extreme as a new offence could be committed at any time.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

While post-traumatic stress disorder is most-commonly associated with those who’ve experienced warfare, it can also affect anyone who’s been through an emotionally turmoil experience – including robbery. Symptoms of PTSD typically include: flashbacks, nightmares, repetitive and distressing images or sensations and physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea and trembling. Some people even feel extreme guilt and repeatedly question if there’s anything they could have done to have stopped the burglary from happening. This relentless questioning often hinders the mental healing process and makes the whole recovery period longer.

Symptoms caused by a lack of sleep

Being the victim of a burglary can have many psychological affects including the inability to get a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, insomnia causes profound psychological affects and can lead to a short attention span and even mania including psychosis, hallucinations and aggression. Of course, not sleeping can also make you feel generally unwell which will certainly impact your daily life.

Thieves rarely think about the psychological impact their actions will have on individuals, however, it’s clear that many people do not cope well following a break-in. If you’ve been a victim of burglary, you can find support here.

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