You or a co-worker has been involved in a robbery. Robbery, especially armed robbery, can be one of the most frightening experiences an employee could possibly encounter.  Employees who were confronted, and other employees, even if not directly threatened during the robbery, can expect some reactions.  How you react to this robbery is affected by personal factors such as how you typically handle stressful situations and what type of support you have at work and at home.

Your reactions may be immediate or may be more delayed.  You may experience reactions that are physical, emotional, or that involve your thinking and thought process.  For most employees these reactions decrease within a few days; for others, the reactions may last longer, or even be experienced or re-experienced at a later time.  Robbery can be a traumatic workplace event that affects everyone involved.

It is extremely important to realize that these are normal feelings, behaviors, and reactions to a robbery.

Employees who have been through a robbery report having had a variety of experiences:

  • Fear:  Employees are afraid to leave the building, of being in public, or of being re-victimized.  They are afraid the robber will find them or return to the scene of the robbery.
  • Hyper –Alertness:  They experience being startled easily; they jump at loud noises or are startled when approached by other people.  They feel wary or “on guard” when approached by new people or customers.
  • Guilt:  They feel that they should have done something differently; they wonder if they could have prevented the robbery or that they didn’t do something they should have.  They experience guilt about their behavior during or after the robbery.
  • Anger: They become enraged that their life has been disrupted and that they no longer feel safe or in control.  Anger is directed at management, co-workers, the robber, themselves, and family members.  Some of this anger seems justified and some may appear irrational.
  • Isolations: They feel they are the only one who is having reactions to the robbery.  They feel isolated from family and friends, and they feel no one can understand what they have been through.

Common Emotional and Physical Reactions:

  • Irritability, which may be directed at co-workers, customers, family, and friends.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Feeling blue or depressed with a lack of concentration.
  • Indifference or numbness of the emotions, a lack of feelings.
  • Dwelling on the robbery.

Coping with the Aftermath of a Robbery:

Awareness and Understanding are crucial to coping with this event in your life.  You can enhance the process of recovery by being aware that trauma reactions are normal, knowing that you can cope and that there is support that can help you function normally after the incident.  Some sources of support are:

  • Co-Workers: 

Work is an important part of your life.  The people you work with may have gone through the trauma with you and know how you feel.  Talk to each other about your feelings and concerns.  You may find that this trauma has brought you closer together.  While you may be experiencing some anxiety about being at work, you may find the familiarity and routine of the workplace as comforting.

  • Family: 

Family members, once you’ve explained what happened, can provide support and care.  After all, they know how you deal with stress and your history better than anyone.  Even children can be very perceptive, so don’t underestimate their ability to be supportive.  Family members can help you feel safer at home and assume responsibility for household or family tasks.  Family members can help by being attentive to your emotional and safety needs.

  • Community: 

You may find support in friends, clergy or other significant people in your life.  Now is the time to pay attention to spiritual and cultural needs.

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): 

Your employer recognizes that the EAP can provide a workplace trauma response and help you cope with the aftermath of a robbery.  The EAP provides confidential, voluntary, and professional assessment, short-term counseling, and referral services for you, your co-workers and family members.

Remember: It is important to allow yourself to heal at your own pace.

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