Victims of crime will often experience nightmares following trauma, such as a physical or sexual assault, and which can be very debilitating and bring back disturbing memories of the assault. Nightmares can occur any time following a traumatic event and can be difficult to understand.

Nightmares can result in feelings of loneliness, distress, sadness, anger, guilt and shame, produce physical reactions, such as breathing difficulties, chest tightness, sweating and shaking and cause significant difficulties with sleep, including broken sleep as well as avoiding sleep.

If nightmares persist and are disruptive you might try the following exercise.

  1. Pick a nightmare and write it down with as much detail as possible.
  2. Re-write the nightmare and in this version change the ending so that it suits you.
  3. Rehearse this modified version of the nightmare each night for about 5 minutes prior to going to bed. Also, perform a relaxation exercise, such as deep controlled breathing, just after this rehearsal and prior to falling asleep.

For further advice and support contact Victims of Crime Counselling and Compensation Services in Victoria on freecall 1800 000 055 or email:

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