I’m not sure what I’ve done to accrue so much bad karma, but I was robbed twice in one day recently. When I walked out of my Midtown apartment on a Sunday morning, I noticed the rear passenger-side window of my car had been smashed in. My iPod, backpack, and some CDs were taken.
I went outside later that day to tape a plastic trash bag over the broken window. While I was taping, I noticed a strange man loitering on the sidewalk about a block away. He kept looking at me, and though I felt a little weirded out, I chose to ignore him.
When I finished taping up the window, the man ran up behind me, pulled out a gun, and held it to my head. He demanded money, and said not to call police. My neighbors witnessed the crime and called police anyway. But the man got away before the cops arrived.
Immediately afterward, I went to my parents’ house across town. I was -- and still am -- scared to be at my house alone. Over a week has gone by, and I’m still paranoid. I keep seeing cars around town that seem to be following me. Will these feelings of paranoia end? Should I just move? I feel like moving is letting the bad guys win, but I don't want to live at my parents’ house.
— Paranoid Victim
I can’t even imagine how violated you must feel. Knock on wood, but I’ve never been mugged. I have had things stolen from my car, but only when I’d stupidly left it unlocked.
If the mugging hadn’t happened, you’d probably have gotten past the car break-in fairly quickly. But having a gun pointed at your head will haunt you for a while. Being afraid to go back home seems perfectly normal.
Last year, my home was broken into twice in the span of a couple of months. Both instances occurred when I wasn’t home, but I went through a period of being afraid to leave the house. That’s sort of the reverse of your issue, but it did take months for me to move past that paranoia. I still carry my valuables — camera and laptop — everywhere I go, for fear of having them taken from my home.
In your case, I’d suggest first giving the Shelby County Crime Victims Center a call at 545-HELP. They provide various services for victims of crime, and they can help refer you to other agencies and support groups.
If you stay put, you’ll probably start to feel less paranoid over time, but you may always be worried. If moving is an option, it wouldn’t be a bad idea, both for your safety and your mental well-being. But keep in mind that violent crime happens all over. Moving isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be escaping the problem.
Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at firstname.lastname@example.org.