What Are Emotional Responses to Home Burglary?

Updated March 23, 2017

A home break-in can be jarring. Despite the fact that burglaries usually happen during the day when no one is home, people typically have strong reactions. Besides the loss of belongings, the violation of their homes and privacy threatens their sense of safety and security. Depending on the individual, emotions can range from mild and short-lived to major trauma that require counselling.


One of the most common reactions to a home burglary is a sense of violation. Someone has entered the most personal of spaces -- the home and usually the bedroom. Even though there's probably nothing personal about the break-in or why a person is targeted, it's hard for people not to take it personally. Burglaries take away a sense of security, which is a foundation for people's personal peace.


When someone forcefully enters a home and takes personal belongings, a resident has every right to feel angry. Anger is a normal part of dealing with trauma. Frequently, victims become angry with the unknown perpetrator. Particularly those who respect others and have a strong moral, ethical foundation can find it upsetting someone would not extend her the same respect as she gives to the world.


In some instances, break-ins occur while someone is at home. Although burglars typically try to avoid encountering residents, they sometimes make mistakes and discover a home is occupied. In such cases, they may turn violent. Usually, they verbally and physically threaten a surprised resident. In some cases, situations turn violent and even result in rape. Victims experience a complex set of emotions often characterised as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms include depression, anger, withdrawal and anxiety sometimes leading to panic attacks. Those suffering PTSD should get help from counsellors and physicians.


Determination is a healthy response to a burglary. Victims can turn their anger, fear and sadness into motivation to improve the security of their homes. This can involve installing better locks, placing dowels in window tracks, purchasing a home security system and forming a neighbourhood watch. Police and sheriff's department crime-prevention units assist residents with information and resources to improve personal and community security.

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About the Author

Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.