A victim of crime is anyone who has suffered physical, moral or emotional distress, or material loss as a direct result of a criminal offence, as well as any family members and friends who may also have been affected.

Being a victim of crime may have a number of negative consequences:
injuries or other physical problems, psychological reactions, financial losses or family, social and labour distress.

However, the intensity of the impact and the way it manifests itself vary from person to person and may be influenced by many different factors such as the type of crime and the circumstances in which it occurred, the relationship with the offender, the family and social situation of the victim and his/her personality traits.
Many victims manage to overcome the impact of being a victim on their own, while others need support to do so.

Here you will find a brief description of the consequences of crime, as well as of the emotional and behavioural reactions most common in those that are victims of crime. At APAV, we are available to listen and to help.


Being the victim of a crime can trigger a number of physical and behavioural reactions. You may experience a combination of thoughts and emotions that are difficult to deal with sometimes. Even though these reactions are completely normal, you may feel that you cannot cope and that you are losing control, which can be quite frightening. It is important to remember that in most cases these feelings will fade and that, over time, you will gradually regain a feeling of control over your life. It is possible that you will identify with many or none of the reactions described here. What is important to understand is that there is no pre-established way for how you may feel or react. When we are victims of a crime, it can affect us in many different ways. We all have our own strategies for coping with difficulties in our lives. Usually, these strategies work quite well and help us in many different circumstances. However, as a victim of crime, we are faced with a situation in which we react differently and the strategies that we normally employ may not be enough. Often we feel that our personal integrity has been violated and we are in a state of shock. In addition, we may experience problems such as difficulty in sleeping, depression, anxiety and guilt. We may feel guilt even though we know that we are not to blame for what happened. It is this very situation of not recognising or understanding our own reactions that is quite uncomfortable for most people. What is in fact a completely normal reaction to an abnormal situation makes us feel as if we have lost all control and the world may appear to be a very dangerous place.



Victims of crime frequently have to deal with a wide range of psychological reactions. While most people are aware of the physical and financial harm caused by a crime, traumatic experiences and the consequences they have for the victims generally receive less attention and are less well-understood. Any victims of crime who suffer psychological trauma frequently describe their situation with the words: “Nothing’s the same anymore”. When someone’s physical or psychological integrity is attacked or severely threatened, they may experience trauma. They find themselves in an unexpected situation in which they feel desperate and helpless, and this feeling of helplessness may have a permanent effect on how they see themselves and their perception of the world. People who have been the target of a crime may lose their trust in others, often permanently. Some victims may develop a strong sense of suspicion in relation to others, which may ultimately lead to total estrangement from family, friends and society. Those subjected to crime often suffer psychosomatic consequences, i.e. physical reactions to emotional stress. Certain stimuli, such as a particular sound that reminds the victim of the crime against them, trigger not only memories but physical reactions such as a pounding heart or a rise in blood pressure. This may lead to secondary diseases such as chronic high blood pressure. Another common symptom developed by victims of crime is a chronic pessimistic view of the future. This can be seen in their passive behaviour or diminished self-esteem when it comes to carrying out daily tasks and obligations.


I was a victim of crime Victim's rights Criminal court proceedings Who is who

Support services Useful contacts Glossary

Quiz Map

Top Map Exit