My house was broken into. Now I have developed a fear of thieves called scelerophobia.

My house was broken into. Now I have developed a fear of thieves called scelerophobia.
  • A couple of months ago my family house was broken into by a stranger.

  • I now have a fear of thieves, also known as scelerophobia.

  • A psychologist recommends people with scelerophobia reach out to professionals for help.

A few months ago, my family house was broken into. The burglars had smashed one of our tripled-glazed garden windows and used a steel wire to unlock the handle. My family and I had been out for four hours — we only wanted to watch the highly acclaimed Oppenheimer movie, and we came back to chaos.

Drawers and wardrobes were open, clothes and books were lying on top of each other, and the carpet was imbued with dirty footprints — you would've thought I was in a horror movie or in a crime series. The reality was that I had been robbed.

Although nothing extortionate or of great sentimental value was stolen, walking into the living room — my head still processing the movie — and discovering shards of glass scattered around the room, a massive hole in the wall, and more importantly, the fact that some sick people violated my personal space, had conjured up emotions inside me I had never felt before. As the hours went by, I was more and more engulfed by fear — fear of those thieves.

Now I think I have scelerophobia, or fear of thieves.

What is scelerophobia?

Derived from the Latin words "scelero" — which means crime or wickedness — and "phobos" meaning fear — scelerophobia is coined by both criminologists and psychologists as the fear of burglars, according to Ayla Faisal, a clinical psychologist and a PhD scholar at the Institute of Clinical Psychology at the University of Karachi.

People who suffer from this may have trouble sleeping at night, for fear of being face to face with a thief or simply of having somebody sneak inside their home, rummaging through drawers. They might even develop obsessive-compulsive disorder and, consequently, check over and over if all windows and doors are closed properly.

What triggers scelerophobia?

The most common factors include a person's upbringing, a traumatic experience, and genetics. In other words, someone who has been brought up by scelerophobes has potentially learned to develop scelerophobia; another case in which this fear could arise would be by direct exposure to criminal activity.

At home, fear of burglars can be brought on by unfamiliar noises or a security light turning on, for instance.

What are the symptoms of scelerophobia?

Everyone is different and will not experience the same feelings. A scelerophobe can experience physical symptoms such as hot flashes or chills, dizziness, nausea, numbness, tachycardia, and hyperventilation, to name a few.

Common symptoms of scelerophobia, on the other side, involve anxiety, sweating, muscle tension, and can lead to panic attacks.

Faisal said, "while fearing crime may serve a protective function, it is important to identify when it becomes a clinically significant problem." She added that if someone is experiencing a high degree of distress because of scelerophobia and their social and occupational functioning is being affected, she recommends seeing a medical provider or mental health professional.

Since the burglary, I have been learning to cope with my new fear.  The next few days after the robbery were horrible. I felt violated — like it wasn't my home anymore, it was the burglars'. I was also sleeping badly at night; the thought of someone breaking into my bedroom was eating me alive. I am now making sure that all windows and doors are properly locked, and that there seems to be someone inside the house at all times by keeping my radio and lights on to deter anyone from coming in.

Read the original article on Insider