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Coping following a terrorist attack – guide

By July 15, 2016February 1st, 2021News

Victims of the terrrible attack in Nice, witnesses of the attack or its aftermath, or those close to any of the victims will be affected by the attack in different ways. Find out more about normal reactions, what to expect and where to get help if you need it.
Reactions to terrorist attacks
When terrible things like terrorist attacks happen, victims and witnesses of the attacks can react in many different ways. The feelings, thoughts, behaviour and physical reactions a victim/witness can experience might feel strange, troubling and intense. These different reactions are NORMAL reactions to an ABNORMAL event.
There are a wide variety of reactions that victims can experience during and immediately after being a victim of these attacks. The negative reactions, that can often be difficult to cope with, including

  • Cognitive reactions: Confusion, disorientation, worry, intrusive thoughts and images, self-blame
  • Emotional: Shock, sorrow, grief, sadness, fear, anger, numbness, irritability, guilt and shame
  • Social: Extreme withdrawal, interpersonal conflict
  • Physiological reactions: Fatigue, headache, muscle tension, stomach-ache, increased heart rate, exaggerated startle response, difficulties sleeping.

While many who develop post-traumatic stress reactions will recover, some however will need professional clinical support to get better. The type of injuries will also evolve. For now, the victims are still in a state of shock. Some victims will isolate themselves, and it is essential to help them out of this state of isolation. Others will blame themselves for being there, or feel guilty. This is called survivor syndrome, which is also found in collective accidents.
Whether you are a victim, a loved one of a victim or a witness, help is available. You can find details of European victim support organisations here
More detailed information on reactions can be found here: Coping with a terrorist attack EN (Courtesy of the Belgian Government and Crisis Centre)

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