dilemmas

Ten days ago Angela returned home to find the door open and the video taken. She got new locks and keeps the door on a chain, but feels a "basket case". The police say it's common, her husband says: "Pull yourself together", she's rung Victim Support, and other people simply say she's lucky worse didn't happen, considering what happened to them. But she still frequently finds herself in floods of anxious tears ....

Until it happened to me I was always fairly flip and unsympathetic when other people got into a state when they were burgled. I thought that as long as no one was harmed and you were insured, burglary should be no more upsetting than finding your washing machine had packed up.

But when, hearing a rustling, I went to investigate and saw a dark and sinister shape flee out of my front door, then, like Angela, I turned into a gibbering wreck, bursting into tears for no reason, waking up in the night and pottering downstairs in my nightdress to check my new lock.

How did he get in? Could he get in again? Now he's got in, will he have taken a good look around the house to mark other entry-points when the one he came in by is sealed? Angela will start to indulge in paranoia. Why did the phone ring and then stop? Who was that woman who rang the bell and said she was looking for Albert? Why did the entry-light suddenly go on and off although there was nobody there?

Angela needs to do four things. She should contact the Crime Prevention Officer who will probably be able to explain the crime in a plausible way. No, the man doesn't have a magic key; no, he's not pre-occupied with burgling her, Angela. Secondly she should talk about it, but only to friends who don't bang on about the dreadful things that happened to them. When my son was mugged, he found solace in talking about it, but became wretched when other people would say: "Well, you're lucky. When I was mugged, they slit my throat and tried to cut the rings off my fingers." Thirdly she should ring Victim Support and ask for a visit. It's a help. And fourthly she should remember that her husband is almost certainly as frightened as her, and worse, feels irrationally guilty. He feels, in some odd primeval way, that he should have been there to protect her and the house. Her crying only reminds him of his inadequacy.

Angela is perfectly normal and will get over it. As my Victim Supporter said, on the phone: "If you weren't feeling like this there'd be something wrong with you." I hope her words help Angela as much as they helped men

Be bigger than them

Finding your house burgled is a terrible shock, a strangely humiliating and menacing invasion of privacy, so you are entitled to react emotionally. When our house was burgled, my first reaction was to want to move; but after a thorough spring-clean I began to feel it was my home again. Then I started a Neighbourhood Watch in our street. Local people looking out for each other is the best security, and also helps restore your faith in human nature. Most of us would feel such a crime to be beneath us, though we are all capable of dishonesty to a lesser or greater extent, so how low their self-esteem must be. Whatever motivated your burglars, Angela, be bigger than them and try to forgive.

Ruth Holt

Didcot, Oxfordshire

Seek counselling

As a counsellor I help people cope with loss and bereavement. This not only covers death and divorce but also traumatic events like being burgled. Angela needs someone to talk to who will accept her feelings instead of denying them. One way would be through Victim Support. Just a phone call was not enough.

Peggy Simmons

Bedford

Rely on time

I was burgled in 1992 and cannot deny it was upsetting and unnerving. The feeling of "invasion" was immense and stayed with me for months. You will go through a gamut of emotions including anger but eventually you will forget and you will be able to get on with your life and you will feel at home. I know it is a cliche but time is a great healer.

Jackie

Stretford, Manchester

Next week's problem: My daughter doesn't want to take a school trip

Dear Virginia,

My daughter is 11, in the last year of primary school. Next month her class goes away for a week to an outdoor activity centre and she doesn't want to go. She's intelligent, strong-willed, but has a lot of fears and uncertainties - and doesn't like staying away from home. She's terrified of the thought of four nights away because she knows she'll be so homesick. Her dad says she should be made to go because there are some things in life you have to do and it's time she realised this. Eight months ago she stayed two nights away with the Brownies, cried when I left her there, enjoyed the days but hated the nights. Should we make her go this time?

Yours, Petra

Comments are welcome, and everyone who has a suggestion quoted will be sent a bouquet from Interflora. Send personal experiences or comments to me at the Features Department, 'The Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL; fax 0171-293-2182, by Tuesday morning. And if you have any dilemmas of your own you would like to share, let me know.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Lead Systems Developer / Software Developer

COMPETITIVE + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Lead Systems Developer / Sof...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media & Engagement Manager - French or German Speaker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The world's leading financial services careers...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive - 6 Months Contract

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Digital Marketing Executive...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Senior Account Manager

40-45K DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Manager / Senior Account Manag...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border