Walking into a home only to see belongings thrown about, notice valuable items are missing, and realizing that a complete stranger was going through belongings in the home is an unsettling experience.
After getting over the initial reaction to the physical aftermath of a burglary, victims are likely to feel a number of emotions that won’t go away simply by cleaning up their home and replacing stolen belongings.
When many people think about burglaries, they think about the financial and material losses, but oftentimes the emotional damage that occurs following a burglary outweighs any monetary or material loss.
The Emotions Victims Feel
Most people’s initial reaction to a burglary is to feel surprised and shocked. It’s common for people to assume that a burglary will never happen to them. This shock is accompanied with a feeling of vulnerability from the realization that a private space has been violated.
It’s common for victims to feel emotions of:
There’s a general psychological discomfort in knowing that an area considered safe—the home—has been exploited and violated by strangers. This feeling is stronger with women than men, who often believe that their homes are an extension of their bodies, as explained by this LA times interview with a psychologist regarding break-ins.
Burglary events also mean the likelihood of items of sentimental value or memorable keepsakes have been stolen. It’s difficult for many people to lose items that have important significance to them.
Victims must allow their emotions to run their course and not shy away from feeling. These sorts of responses are normal. A report from Mirror.co.uk even reports that for some victims it takes up to seven months following a burglary before they begin to feel secure in their homes again.
If you are the victim of a burglary and having trouble coping with the event, it’s important to get the help you need from a counselor a therapist.
Children will also have their own unique reactions to a burglary event. It’s important not to hide your feelings from them, but parents shouldn’t appear overly distraught, because that could upset a child. Children are likely to mimic the sentiments of their parents, so showing them that they too can overcome the vent will be beneficial.
How to Feel Safe After a Break-In
Emotional reactions or spur of the moment decisions should not be made after a break-in occurs. Many homeowners feel as though they should move from their home, and this could be the right decision, but allow yourself to understand and grieve the event before making life-altering decisions.
In order to feel safe again in the home, there a preventable measures that can be taken.
Homeowners are first encouraged to talk with police, neighbors, and even form a neighborhood watch group. This will provide eyes and ears on the local community.
The next and most important step is to purchase home security equipment. Burglars will be deterred simply by seeing home security signs, decals, and if they attempt a break-in, they will be caught immediately by home security alarms and the police that respond (if you have monitored home security).
While a burglary event can be traumatic and recovering may seem bleak, know that you are not alone, seek help when needed, and implement strategies to prevent any future burglaries.