The Plastic Hippo

February 3, 2017

Street crime

The trauma, anxiety and adverse effects caused by street crime, particularly robbery, is dependent upon the psychological resilience and the physical and emotional health of the victim. Although each crime is unique and the reactions of victims may vary, there are common trends that apply to most victims of crime both during the robbery itself and the aftermath of the crisis.

Many victims report a sense of unreality as the crime is being perpetrated and in the moment find it difficult to believe that another human being is actually robbing them of valuable possessions. The initial instinct is to cling onto valuables with dear life until the realisation that direct or implied violence might threaten dear life itself. In retrospect, a robbery that in reality might last for seconds seems to last for hours as the emotional calamity is played out. The acute stress response sometimes characterised as “fight or flight” forces a split-second conflict between obvious feelings of anger and fear. Most targets of street crime tend to abandon possessions when faced directly by violence and threats of violence and fear almost always holds sway over anger.

Although street robberies are still mercifully rare, they are on the increase as society becomes more fractured and criminality becomes less abnormal. Immediately following a street robbery, the victim will obviously be in a state of shock and find it difficult to rationalise the assault and theft. The anger that was subjugated by fear will resurface and feelings of helplessness, confusion and relief that the trauma has passed will compete with the realisation that the valuables are gone and that no amount of screaming for help that did not come will replace the bag, purse, wallet, phone or economy. A sense of unfairness, violation and even isolation can result in hatred, undue vigilance and paranoia. Victims might even experience guilt at allowing their property to be stolen by not fighting back or allowing the robbers to get away with it by not concentrating on giving an accurate description or by being stupid enough to walk in a street when carrying valuables. Later, anger might lead to thoughts of vengeance or of a fear that it might happen again.

Other than debilitating paranoia, other long-term effects could include an almost permanent state of apprehension, vulnerability, anxiety and a fear of strangers especially those dressed as robbers. Victims might adopt a defensive stance that could be misinterpreted as aggressive, withdrawn, irrational and even prejudiced. The victim, in effect, becomes the criminal.

In the House of Commons, 498 elected members of parliament voted to trigger Article 50 that will officially start the negotiations to remove the United Kingdom from the European Union. Some MPs abstained in rather unusual circumstances but 114 MPs voted against. It seems that the majority of MPs across all parties, including the government and the opposition, were quite recently in favour of remaining in the EU, the single market and the European Court of Human Rights. Faced by an “overwhelming” 27 per cent of the electorate voting to leave and an “irreversible” mandate allowing a suicidal isolationism, the majority of MPs are happy to abandon their beliefs and principles at the drop of a hat or the drop in approval from their constituents. It is a sad indictment that MPs across all parties should vote for something that they know will harm the nation that they serve and harm the people they supposedly represent. This anti-social behaviour is based entirely on self-preservation and re-election.

It cannot come as a surprise when a victim of crude street crime withdraws into the comfort of victimhood. The 48 per cent of victims who might complain about being robbed are wise to remain silent in order to avoid accusations of “bringing it on themselves” because they are moaning, unpatriotic traitors.

The other 52 per cent, or at least some of them, have adopted a coping mechanism of denial and have yet to realise that they too have been robbed.

1 Comment »

  1. It is common knowledge that people sometimes do silly and occasionally dangerous things. Generally, they agree the need to protect themselves from their own wilder excesses. To secure themselves, they invent law and approve the means of its administration. Because they are too busy keeping body and soul together, they empower some of their number to oversee their deep-rooted ideas of fairness, decency, consistency and accountability to all.This is usually described as democracy.

    Nowadays, such notions seem to have been swamped by smaller ideas. Xenophobia, misrepresentation, distrust, dishonesty, disenfranchisement and vox pop referenda have now taken the floor. Without serious challenge from those who are mandated to represent us, a new set of laws seem to have been made up on the hoof.

    Democracy may not be entirely dead, but it is definitely disappearing over the horizon. Very much like the profiteers and crooks, except that they are taking their wallets and credit cards with them.

    I continue to fend off all attempts at personal theft. I have found that a casual ‘can I help you?’ to be useful. But, as I get older it is becoming more difficult to maintain politeness.

    Comment by The Realist — February 9, 2017 @ 11:23 am | Reply

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