Amanda (gloworm6) wrote in allphobias,

phobia of intruders/being attacked

Hi everyone, I just joined. I have an issue that has been bothering me for years but has significantly increased in the last few months. I suffer from a very intense, sometimes overwhelming fear of being attacked, particularly in or around my home. I live with 1 roommate in a 2-bedroom apartment. I am constantly checking around corners, down the hallway, in my bathroom, even under the couch, etc for intruders. In fact, my anxiety is rising now just thinking about the possibilities! I have a hard time leaving my apartment, especially at night, when I have to walk through the space between the living room and kitchen and cant see every corner. Out in front of the apartment is just as bad as there are several bushes and other parked cars where anyone could be hiding. More than once I have jumped in my car and sped away like a maniac out of fear. I also get scared often laying in bed at night that someone could be in the room or even standing over me and me not even realize it. Gosh thats scary! I live in a fairly safe, fairly small town and there is little crime, especially of any violent nature. My fear is completely unfounded and I know that, but it's absolutely terrifying. Tonight I walked out to my mailbox, about 50 yards away, and had to control my breathing as to not hyperventilate. It seems to be getting worse recently.

Now, heres my question. I work in the mental health field and have tried to do some reading and self-help things with myself to help this problem, but the phobia things dont really seem on target for me. They often talk about reminding yourself why its completely irrational, which in reality it's not - it doesnt make sense to tell myself to not be careful walking alone, even if the risk is small. They also talk a lot about flooding yourself with the stimuli, but I cant really do that either. Is it possible that this is more of an OCD trait, on the obsession side? I do have some other minor OCD traits. Or would it be a phobia? Because I think it's natural to have some small fear of this - most people just dont let it interfere with their lives.

Thanks for any answers to that question or other advice anyone can give me.

If I am away from home, except for a few very specific locations (banks, 7-11s), I'm perfectly fine.
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I have had this problem ever since I was a child. I would find myself running up stairs so fast because I think there is someone behind me. it's even a problem for me when there is other people in the house that I know can and will do everything to protect me. I look around corners, cover my neck when I think somone is behind me because I don't want someone to strangle or slit my throat. If I am alone in my house I turn on every light and look in every room, shut the door and sit somewhere very quiet so I can hear everything. I often sit with something I can use as a wepon. My heart beats out of my chest and I sometimes even get emotional. Please help, []
I can understand exactly what so many are experiencing. The strange thing is that I am a cognitive psychologist (therapist) and I have this same fear. It stems from being stalked/attacked in adolescence, but I must have been predisposed to this type of response (my response to stress is anxiety). I am now experiencing the worst of my fears as my husband is working away for several months. So, in trying to solve my own problem I have imagined what I would say to a client/patient. For such fears, it is useful to challenge them on two levels (as one of the bloggers does eloquently). First, it is an unlikely event - it's probably not going to happen. But what if it does? The second challenge is that you could actually cope if you had to. We have no choice but to cope with what life brings us - we ALWAYS do (not coping means not breathing). Ok, so being killed is not coping, but you cannot prevent that. To be killed by another human being entails so many unpredictable and uncontrollable variables that our excessive precautions are pointless. That I am awake may give me precious little advantage over a deranged intruder.

So, imagine this: Some day, as you are convinced in the middle of the night, you will be attacked. We don't know exactly when. In the meantime, you can live your life or you can curl up in fear. In the first scenario, you at least have some good times. In the second, there is little respite.

Now, imagine this: You are never attacked and live to be 90. You can live in fear for 75 of those years or you can live your life to the fullest.

Either way (being attacked or not), each day spent in fear is lost. I would rather have a few good days than none, right? I know this is logic and the fear is not logical, but this is a powerful process to go through and can stop the fear dead in its tracks. I mean really, what does it have over you if you say "ok, it's definitely going to happen, I might as well get some sleep." In fact, as I have experienced, the fear is often worse than any potential attack. I have thought to myself in exhaustion, "Please, attack already. Get it over with. This fear is killing me."

Here is an analogy: To a client who was in a wretched state with fear of developing illness, I have said, "At least a terminal illness would put you our of your misery. Why protect a such a painful existence?" He realised he was wasting what he was so desperately trying to maintain. His life.



October 2 2010, 17:23:33 UTC 6 years ago

Oh, please tell me how you coped with this, if you have found a way. I have struggled with this exact same problem since the age of 8, and I still do as an adult. My family always laughed at me, because I was constantly checking the locks to doors at night, and shutting all the windows. I literally COULD NOT sleep until I did this every night, or I would go insane. When I moved down to the basement as a teenager, it took months before my paranoia calmed down, because I knew I was more prone to being attacked on the bottom floor of the house. I have nightmares about this happening ever since I was a little girl, and I cannot take it anymore.

Please, please, if you have any advice--anyone--let me know ASAP.

thank you :)
The house in back of mine was broken into months ago. Intruder was never caught. Now I can't get a decent night's sleep because I'm terrified, especially when my roommate's gone. Help!
I'm with the rest of you. For the past two years I've been afraid in my current apartment. I'm a 30 year old man, and quite capable of taking care of myself, but I just can't sleep because I feel the need to constantly run scenarios of what might happen, or to listen for attackers breaking in. To make this even more ridiculous, I live at least 14 feet above the ground-- technically a first floor apartment, but you'd need a ladder to get in. Of course the intruders in my dreams have ladders, and are bent on my destruction.

A few things that have helped me:

1. EMDR helped me come to terms with some traumatic events that I was holding tightly. They would barely seem traumatic to others, but I'm pretty sensitive, so traumatic to me.

2. Talking to a therapist about underlying problems.

3. Meditation. It has been possible for me to reach a state where I notice the fear, but much in the same way I notice a spider in a jar-- it's there, but not a threat. I've also gained some understanding into how fear worms its way into the mind (by trying to make ourselves artificially impenetrable, we shut ourselves off from truths that could relax us) and how to be compassionate for myself when I can't do anything but curl up in a ball.

4. Exercise.

5. Owning a non-lethal weapon I know how to use. I bought a bo staff, but any blunt instrument would do.

It really is a pain, though. I wish I could just relax in my apartment, but instead I spend 25% of my brain power constantly worrying. And for what? To protect myself from that feeling of total fear? Two, five, ten minutes of total fear would be worth a good night sleep. And so what if I get maimed, beaten, disfigured? As a maimed, beaten, disfigured man I'd still like a good night sleep. Hell, I like to think they could keep attacking me until I die. But of course this thought doesn't really help beyond the intellect, and I still can't sleep! GRRRRR!



October 23 2010, 05:19:51 UTC 6 years ago

I just had an argument over the phone with my husband because of my "insane" fear of intruders. It's 1 am, he's hundreds of miles away, and I can't sleep because I need to be able to hear the intruder when he comes in so that I have enough time to get my two kids and jump out of the window. Ridiculous right? My fear started several years ago when my husband and I moved away from our home state and families. He's in the military, so it's not uncommon for him not to be home at night. My fear started of small, when it was just me and him. I was fairly confident that if someone were to break in, I could take care of myself. When our first child came alone, it got a little worse. It would be more difficult, but I could manage getting both of us out of the house. Now that we have a second child, I'm in really bad shape. How could I possibly save myself and two children??? Most nights I don't sleep at all. I'm finally able to fall asleep when the sun comes up. But then my kids are up before I can even get an hour of sleep. I'm running on empty. As soon as darkness falls I'm going through the house like a mad woman making sure every door/window is locked, every closet is empty, and there's nothing in the bathtubs or under the beds. My husband can't stand it, he blames Lifetime movies and Law&Order SVU and it's causing trouble in our marriage. I feel helpless and hopeless.

At this very minute, I'm paranoid that someone, knowing I'm alone, will track my ip address, figure out my address, and break into my house... It may sound crazy, but this stuff happens...



December 4 2010, 16:43:02 UTC 6 years ago

I don't know what to say. I guess I am slightly paranoiac myself. I'm fourteen, and I always lock the door when my parents go out. I'm afraid someone would "take advantage" of their leave and attack me or rob the house, which I know isn't rational since I'm in probably the most peaceful village there could be, but I still hold my breath every time I hear something unusual at night. I guess I'm lucky, in some ways, my fears could be a lot worse. That's something I realized by reading all of this... I guess I want to thank you for you help. In a lot of ways, you really did help. Thanks.
Im only 12 and i cant be alone im afraid of anything getting me in the night im also scared when everyone is asleep and im the only one awake i see things and here things that my mind makes. last night i could a sworn i saw my Mini christmas tree shaking and went too sleep in my lil brothers room im always quiet when i get up getting ready for school and turn all the lights on . whenever i go down to the basment to do laundry i call my mom so she can talk to me while im down there . many things to i could say but i dont feel like writting i dont wanna see a siciratrist cause i dont want people to think im loney i pray to god eery night cause im chatolic and just hope i can trust him so that know one will kill me doose anyone know how to stop this !!! PLZ HELP.

me too


January 6 2011, 07:31:24 UTC 6 years ago

I googled dealing with fear of being attacked and came across this site. I believe that a certain amount of fear is healthy and will keep you on your toes and alert. Too much of anything though is not good. I have been independent for many years and quite capable of taking care of myself and mine. Unfortunately, I was attacked a few months ago. I lived through it. My child lived through it. He hasn't been caught. So what do I do? This asshole punk took away my confidence and freedom. I'm still working on recovering mentally. I have found that taking security measures has helped. I've installed an alarm system, added locks to the doors, wired night vision cameras, upgraded a door, installed a motion light, leave the flood lights on at night and added dead bolts. I've also acquired a pistol permit, mace, tear gas, a shotgun, handgun,and ammunition. I visit the shooting range now. I have also started therapy. I am pissed. I am pissed because my life is changed. I am pissed because there are crazies out there that cause fear and pain. I am also amazed. I am amazed that I am alive. I am amazed that my child was not subjected to witnessing the attack. I am amazed that I fought back. I am amazed that even with a gun pointed at my face I reacted how I needed to. He was young, in shape, strong and armed. I am a middle aged female. I held my own and I can say that should it happen again, he will know that he came to the wrong place. I believe that my best weapon against fear is to be prepared as that is also my best weapon against an attacker. I will not have hypnotherapy as I refuse to forget what happened. I will remember and be stronger as a result.


January 11 2011, 03:13:13 UTC 6 years ago

I'm fourteen and I've had this problem since i was 11 it just wasn't such a big problem till now. When i walk home from school i'm always petrified that someone will attack me and try to kill me especially because i walk in an ally. I always listen to my iPod to take my mind away from the fears once i had some yell at me and tried to attack me but they couldn't because they were in their car driving but they yelled from the window. I've told my parents they think its stupid that i have this fear. I guess you probably remember when you were in a kid and you were on the other side of the hallway or downstairs and you had to turn the lights off and went running to you're room i guess thats probably off topic-ish but i still run when i turn the lights off because it scares me that i can't see if anyone is behind me with a knife or gun or something.


February 15 2011, 10:32:43 UTC 6 years ago

Can't believe I have found people with the same fears as myself...thought it was just me! Mine too is getting worse. And I also have my husband with me every night and I'm still scared. We have 2 locks on the bedroom door, at first this helped but now I think I can hear someone trying to open the bedroom door...every night I wake up and lie there for hours convinced that I can hear intruders in the house and trying to get into our room to attack me. Even in the morning when my husband goes to work I lock the bedroom door while I have a shower and get ready, and sometimes I have to look underneath the door cos I think I hear something. I also worry when I get home that someone has broken in and they are still there! So always open the front door with caution and look down thru the house before I shut the door behind me. another fear is going for a walk alone...sometimes I take a weapon with me. I am getting so over it...hate being so scared all the time...feel like a nutter. Don't think I'll ever be ok.
I just thought I would google this asI have this fear as well as some others which you would think are irrational. Even though I feel sorry for every other person going through this, its comfortingin a way to know that Im not the only one and it isn't 'abnormal' like I'dthought.
My partner works away a lot, in fact he is away tonight. I saw a bunch of teenagers at the end of the road as I drove me and my daughter into the street and racedthe car into the drive and said to her "gettout quick", then leaving allmy stuff in the car I raced us into the house and locked the door from behind. I've been switching the lights off and checking the windows so I can see them watching the house but they can't see me (even though there was no-one out there when I looked) and darent go in the kitchen to get a drink whenmy partner is away as there is a window with no curtains or blinds so someone could be in the back garden peering in and I cant see out. I lock all doors on the inside and leave the keys in as I fear someone will pick the locks to get in, and I leave clothes up the stairs so I might trip someone up if they try to get me at night in the dark. I also leave clothes behind my bedroom door to jam the door in case they get inside. I keep the phone right next to me in bed in case I need to phone 999 in the night. Its completely ridiculous and in the day I am a senior manager in a global company helping employees with all sorts of issues in a HR role,yet I feel like a freak for having these thoughts when I'm on my own. Ive had various things happen in the past (bullied at school, beaten up by boyfriend when I was 18, sexually harrassed by an old boss when I was 20 who told me he knew people in the IRA if anyone ever crossed him..which I did by reporting him) but Im 35 now. Argh! Id love to get overthis....I wont sleep tonight as usual as I will be laying awake with my heart racing listening for every single noise in case it's someone trying to force the locks. I even worry that someone will pour petrol through the letterbox and set fire to it. Maybe its all the drama on the news that affects certain people who have tendencies such as anxiety and worrying more??
like everybody else, i too have this. evey time i go into the bathroom, i have to check behind the shower curtain. also whenni am in the shower i have to look out of the shower to see if anybody is in my hallway. my mother told me that 3 days ago (when nobody was home) she came home and went to let the dogs out. she could not find the leash so she checked upsairs and then she remembered it was downstairs. she went to get the leash from the floor and she realized the dogs were gone. and the back door was open. she got my one dog but she could not find the other. she closed the door and checked the house for anybody. she went back downstairs and my other dog was a the door. we are now buying a very secure lock for the door. i have had this ever sincebi was little. i am now only 13 and it scares me to be alone even with my big dogs. i dont know how to fix it because i live in an area that is not very safe anyways. the fact that someone tried to break in made my anxiety level increase dramatically. i also am afraid that someone will be in my room when i am sleeping. i run as fast as i can when going up or downstairs too. btw: this is called Scelerophobia
I have lived with the fear of someone breaking in my house while I am alone for as long as I can remember. I always assumed I got it from my mother who would go around and check all the doors at night when my father was away on business trips.

When I was 28 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began taking medication to control it which has worked very well. I have a fabulous psychiatrist whom I see every 4-6 months just to make sure my dose is right, and I live a completely normal life.

After I had seen this doctor for about 5 years, it occurred to me that she had been so successful at "curing" my manic and depressive symptoms, she might be able to help me not be afraid. She said she did not think I was paranoid, and the fear of someone breaking in and/or attacking could be a physiological issue, but she could also try treating it with a mild anti-anxiety medicine. I had already tried psychotherapy, and the cognitive approach (analyzing the likelihood of someone breaking in, accepting it as a possibility, and choosing not to live in fear) worked for about a week. She treated it as a symptom of anxiety, and prescribed a low dose of Celexa (generic = Citalopram). At 20 mg/day, I could tell I was worrying about it less. Happy that I felt better, I lived with it this way for 4-6 months. Then I said to her, "If 20 mg takes care of most of the fear, could increasing the dose get rid of it altogether?" She agreed it was worth a try and put me on 40mg. I regret to say that I cannot remember if the higher dose was more effective or not. It was what happened afterward that solved the problem. After two months on the 40mg, I started to grind my teeth and clench my jaw, so she took me off it.

I expected the fear to come back after I quit using the anxiety medicine, but it didn't. Since I stopped, the fear has gone away 100%, even better than it was while I was on the higher dose. I am thrilled!

It's been a year since that small miracle occurred, and I continue to feel great about it. I still take a phone in the bathroom with me when I am showering alone in the house, but I consider this a sound precaution, and I am not afraid. If I hear a sound, I listen for it again and try to figure out what caused it, but I don't feel afraid. I no longer have to call my husband and have him stay on the phone with me while I go through every room in the house. My belief that it is a realistic possibility that I may experience a break in during the course of my life has not changed. I just hardly ever think about it any more.

Now my problem is that my 11-year-old daughter has this fear, and I'm afraid I gave it to her by the way I acted back when I was scared. Taking karate and stocking her room with martial arts weapons hasn't eased her mind at all. I wish I could make it go away for her. She isn't interested in trying medicine, and I don't really want her to. I just feel bad for her because I know exactly what she's going through.
I want to clarify that I did not have this fear because I am bipolar. It is not a symptom of manic-depression. They were separate issues. I was just fortunate enough to have a good relationship with a psychiatrist because of my bipolar that I was in a situation to consider a medical treatment approach to the fear, which wouldn't have occurred to me otherwise.

hmm, you know, this is just a suggestion, I'm not trying to convert you or anything, but why don't you get a religion of some sort?
I have the exact same problem, I constantly check corner, I never turn out the lights, and I'm always checking for shadows or sounds.
I can't tell myself I'm just imagining it or it's ridiculous becuase, YOU NEVER KNOW FOR SURE. They're COULD be someone there. The chances are little but plausible.
But I would suggest a faith, so you're comfortable with death. It sounds really bad, but you never know, it could be a car crash, a mugger, any random thing that you could never predict. But if you have a faith-base then you sort of trust that it's NOT going to happen to you. I know god won't let that happen to me, but if it DOES, then it was for the best. I'm safe, I'm covered, I'm at peace, I don't mind dying because I'm going home.
I don't like telling ppl to get a religion but I can't tell you that something like that can never happen or that if it does you'll be prepared, cuz that's a lie, you never know what can happen. But if you have faith then you have an understanding of everything that happens, you know gods taking care of you and doing whats best. You won't be afraid.
Sorry to bother you, hope you take my advice.
I totally understand your situation!
I believe the proper term is Scelerophobia?
A phobia of being a attacked or harmed.
I often times and checking around the house, and a lot of times when I hear normal everyday sounds I mistake them as someone or something possibly breaking into the house or perhaps already in it.
Sometimes I even take silverwear with me and hold it in my hand when I sleep, and until the last month or so I would constantly stare towards the bedroom door in an alert manner.
It gets pretty annoying sometimes doesn't it?
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