According to the latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, around 686,000 domestic burglaries were carried out in England and Wales from October 2015 to September 2016. The good news is that this figure is 8% lower than it was in the previous 12 months. The bad news is far too many people are still having to deal with the trauma of being burgled.
The charity Victim Support describes burglary as when someone breaks into a building with the intention of stealing, hurting someone or committing unlawful damage. It may happen to you once, or several times.
But the impact of burglary doesn’t just involve the financial cost of replacing stolen goods and repairing any damage. It can also have a significant impact on your emotional health too, as well as your sense of feeling safe in your own home.
Indeed, the thought of someone being in your home can be the most distressing aspect of having your home burgled. Research from Allianz Insurance discovered that it takes around 8 months for those who have been burgled to feel safe at home again.
A MoneySuperMarket survey, revealed 1 in 8 never recover emotionally, with 43% saying they feel violated and 44% scared it may happen again. Research commissioned by UIA Insurance also found a third of people whose homes had been burgled had suffered a huge knock to their confidence, while a fifth claimed they found it difficult to be left on their own after the break-in.
Range of emotions
If your house has been burgled, the trauma it causes can stir up a wide range of thoughts and feelings. You may initially feel shock, anger and fear, as well as helplessness, guilt and panic. These feelings may turn to grief, sadness, despair, mistrust and vulnerability. In time, you may develop more serious emotional problems such as depression, anxiety attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder and sleeping difficulties.
The first thing to remember is that it’s normal to feel upset about a burglary in your home. You may experience the emotional after-effects for a few days, a few weeks or longer – or they may come in waves. Try to remember that it takes time to get over something like burglary, but that you should try to avoid dwelling on it as much as possible. What you’re feeling is normal, and if you look after yourself, you will feel better.
Here are some things that may help:
Talk through your feelings
Whether it’s a friend, a family member, a neighbour, work colleague or a trained counsellor, talking to someone you trust about how you feel will be much more helpful than trying to soldier on and bottle things up. If it helps, write about what you’re thinking and feeling in a journal.
Remember to breathe
If you’re experiencing anxiety, breathing exercises may help you feel calmer. Here’s an easy exercise you can try, courtesy of mental health charity Mind:
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out
- Count as you breathe – start by counting to 4 as you breathe in, 4 as you breathe out, then work out what’s comfortable to you
You can also download a guide written by Mind on understanding anxiety and panic attacks here.
Get back into your routine
Instead of isolating yourself, try to get back to your normal routine as soon as you can. But don’t forget to give yourself time to relax or take a break whenever you need it.
Drink in moderation
You may feel that having a few drinks can make you cope and feel better, but drinking too much will only prolong or complicate your recovery. Stick to the recommended alcohol intake guidelines for men and women of no more than 14 units of alcohol each week, spread over 3 or more days.
Take care of your health
You may not feel like eating much or doing any exercise after having your home burgled. But eating regular healthy meals will help support your physical and emotional wellbeing, as will staying physically active. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity – such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming – each week. Also try to get plenty of sleep (take naps during the day if you need to).
Being proactive about improving your home security may help you move on emotionally too. Find out if your local police station or neighbourhood policing team can put you in touch with someone to give you home security advice. Make sure any repairs are carried out as quickly as possible and if you’re making a claim on your home insurance, speak to your local police station about getting a crime reference number.
If you’ve been affected by burglary, Victim Support offers emotional and practical help. You can request support online, contact your local Victim Support team, or call the charity’s Supportline on 0808 16 89 111.