Victims of an animal attack first worry about lasting physical damage. Deep lacerations, broken bones, tissue damage and infection are all serious consequences of a dog bite. Unfortunately, while physical damage is devastating, children and adults alike often struggle with a lifetime of emotional damage as well.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that victims often struggle with after a shocking, painful experience. PTSD often manifests itself as a direct fear of the inciting event. For example, those who suffered a serious injury in a motor vehicle collision might avoid getting into a car at all costs. Similarly, those who suffered a dog attack will likely avoid dogs in the future. Unfortunately, that is not the only consequence of PTSD.
While a significant number of PTSD victims display avoidance in an effort to protect themselves from further harm, they often exhibit other characteristics, including:
- Intrusive thoughts: In the days, weeks, months or years following a dog attack, victims might exhibit a dramatic cognitive impact. This can come in the form of intrusive memories, vivid flashbacks and negative thoughts. Additionally, dog attack victims could suffer nightmares which ultimately lead to fatigue and insomnia.
- Reactive cognition: Following an animal attack, victims will likely begin shifting their cognition. Even if they do not recognize it, close friends and family members will immediately see the mood and personality changes. For example, the victim could experience heightened awareness of any situation construed as similar to what led to the dog attack. Additionally, the victim could experience memory challenges, difficulty concentrating and angry outbursts. In severe examples, the victim could begin engaging in reckless or self-destructive behavior.
Unfortunately, children are often the victims of dog attacks. It is generally a combination of playful, inquisitive behavior and failure to recognize the warning signs of a dangerous animal. While the physical scars might heal over time, children often struggle with a lifetime of fears and altered perceptions that expand to include a broad range of animals and situations.