Helping your family cope after a burglary or home invasion
A burglar or home invader often steals more than your possessions. They steal your sense of security and can leave you feeling violated, with symptoms similar to those of victims of violent crime.
Children are especially shaken by the experience and, if their fears are not addressed, can suffer long-term psychological damage from even a minor break-in where little was stolen.
So how do psychologists advise us to deal with the symptoms of fear, anger and guilt that so often result in sleepless nights, irrational reactions, or sudden panic attacks?
Aside from the obvious and immediate things like contacting the police and your insurance company, here is a collection of tips from victims of crime chat groups and medical advice sites to help you move on from what may have been a life-threatening event to a place where you can put the trauma behind you.
- Move out. Spend a few nights with friends or in a hotel where you can feel safe and not be living with constant reminders of what happened.
- Have any property damage repaired before you and your family move back home. You can all do without constant reminders of what happened.
- Bring in professional help to assess where the burglars broke in and other vulnerable points in your home. Take their advice – install high quality security screens and doors such as Crimsafe®‘s security products, improved lighting, an alarm system, new locks or other measures recommended.
- Talk about your feelings with someone you trust and engage with your children to ensure they, too, talk about their feelings and what’s happened. Alert their school about what they’ve been through.
- Ensure you and your children receive professional counseling. Children tend to become quiet and withdrawn following trauma. Until you all accept that you are not responsible and the only guilty party is the burglar or home invader, you will not be able to fully recover from the event.
- Limit the family’s exposure to media. Crime stories on the television or in the newspapers are likely to cause further distress.
- Eat healthily, exercise and do things together that you enjoy. This is a time when you need to be healthy, share with others and avoid stress as much as possible.