March 19, 2014
Lorena and her daughters, aged 8 and 6 were at home, asleep. Her husband, Edgar, was doing a night shift and would be back in the morning. It was once everyone was sound asleep, that a burglar entered their home.
Lorena had her wedding and engagement rings taken from her night table. Her jewellery box disappeared, as well as her daughters’ gold medals. All three of them were asleep while the robbery was taking place; while the burglar was strolling around the house where three unaware people were confidently resting.
When Edgar came home, he noticed his front door unlocked. His laptop was missing, as well as their MP3 player and TV. But before he could register all the things that went amiss, he ran upstairs to his girls’ bedroom, yelling and panting. Lorena was awaken by his yelling and panicked without understanding what was happening. And then they all realised they had been robbed during the night.
The impact on the girls was worse than their parents would have expected. For a month, they jumped into their parents’ bed late every night. They were always concerned of being alone, anxious and hyper-vigilant about all the different noises in the house, of things which they had never been aware of before the incident.
As for the parents, Lorena and Edgar struggled to accept that there had been someone alien watching their every move prior to the incident and later on inside their home, invading their privacy, walking their rooms
As for the parents, Lorena and Edgar struggled to accept that there had been someone alien to their household, a stranger, watching their every move prior to the incident and later on inside their home, invading their privacy, walking their rooms completely unnoticed! Feelings of anger and helplessness often got hold of Lorena, who would now struggle to sleep on her own. Edgar, on the other hand, requested to not get anymore night shifts, even if that meant lowering his wages. Both their anxiety levels increased and Lorena even went through a period of very high stress. Nightmares made their way through to their sleep, and a general sense of paranoia took hold of their otherwise peaceful lives. Leaving aside the material costs of what was taken from the family home, the emotional impact was highly damaging for all four members, whose trust and security was seriously impacted. Robbery victims usually find it difficult to come to terms with what has happened to them, and in some cases, they never feel as safe as they used to. In an article for the Security Newsletter, author Annie Blanco (2010) suggests three important actions should be taken into consideration right after a burglary or theft:
1. When a burglary has been committed, do not touch anything. Inform the police immediately and wait for their assessment, which could lead to getting hold of the criminal(s).
2. Call the insurance loss assessor.
3. It is also worth to get some counselling organised for all the members of the household.
Counselling helps victims to understand their sometimes overwhelming feelings. By having a therapist listen to them, normalising what they are going through and getting some strategies for coping in moments of high stress, they will gradually feel better. Nobody should have to go through one such experience, but knowing there are useful mechanisms for getting back to normality is comforting.