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Victims Coping in the Wake of a Home Robbery Can Take Years to Recover, Say Therapists

Kyle Richards, Dorit Kemsley, and Brielle Biermann were all targets of home robberies.

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A Burglary Rocks the Biermann Family
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Kyle Richards and her husband Mauricio Umansky's home was broken into in late December while the family was on vacation in Aspen, Colorado. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills mom has since hired armed guards to patrol the grounds and has updated her security system. Meanwhile, Kyle's pal Dorit Kemsley and her husband, PK, were forced to pull their Beverly Hills home off the market after it was hit by a robber who targeted open houses.

Then on the latest episode of Don’t Be Tardy, we saw Brielle Biermann’s burglary from last March. Thieves were caught on security cameras swiping a $2,900 Chanel purse, a $1,000 Chanel wallet, and three credit cards, which they used for purchases. “At 2:18 am, they came in through the gate,” Kim says of the robbery, as the security footage plays. “This changes everything.”

The charity group Victim Support describes burglary as “when someone breaks into a building with the intention of stealing, hurting someone or committing unlawful damage” and says it is more than just an unsettling experience.

“After getting over the initial reaction to the physical aftermath of a burglary, victims are likely to feel a number of emotions that won’t go away simply by cleaning up their home and replacing stolen belongings,” it reports. “When many people think about burglaries, they think about the financial and material losses, but oftentimes the emotional damage that occurs following a burglary outweighs any monetary or material loss. Most people’s initial reaction to a burglary is to feel surprised and shocked. It’s common for people to assume that a burglary will never happen to them. This shock is accompanied with a feeling of vulnerability from the realization that a private space has been violated.”

It’s common for victims to feel “violation, anger, fear, helplessness, sadness.”

These emotions can last for years and can even cause PTSD, say experts who have studied the impact on the human brain.

“There’s a general psychological discomfort in knowing that an area considered safe — the home — has been exploited and violated by strangers,” says VS. “This feeling is stronger with women than men, who often believe that their homes are an extension of their bodies. Burglary events also mean the likelihood of items of sentimental value or memorable keepsakes have been stolen. It’s difficult for many people to lose items that have important significance to them.”

If you are the victim of a burglary and are having trouble coping, a therapist is key.

Therapist Jason Eric Ross has helped clients through the aftermath of events like the ones these Bravolebs experienced.

“A burglary is literally and figuratively an invasion of someone’s personal space. It’s a violation on a few levels. The victim is very often traumatized by the experience because ultimately, if we don’t feel safe at home, where would we feel safe? Especially in today’s world,” he tells Personal Space. “When someone is violated in this fashion they might become anxious or fearful and at some point angry after the initial shock wears off. Depending on what was burglarized, they may also be very sad due to the literal loss of personal items or damage to the home.”

He says there are so many emotions to sort through, therapy can be a great help in the months following.

“Therapy would help a victim to learn how to reframe the situation, and provide a safe space to talk about the experience at length and in detail. Engaging in therapy can help someone to reduce anxiety and dissipate anger and related symptoms,” Ross says.

Experts also advise not making spur-of-the-moment decisions following a robbery or break-in, like immediately moving from a home. Instead, victims are encouraged to talk with police, neighbors, and even form a neighborhood watch group. “This will provide eyes and ears on the local community,” says one report. “While a burglary event can be traumatic and recovering may seem bleak, know that you are not alone, seek help when needed, and implement strategies to prevent any future burglaries.”

Catch up on the full season of Don't Be Tardy here.

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