Attacked at Work Resulting in PTSD Mental Health Issues Help Guide – Developed post-traumatic stress disorder after assault

PTSD Compensation

If you were attacked at work and now have mental issues as a result of the violent incident you experienced, you may have also developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which often happens when you are exposed to traumatising and stressful events in the workplace and elsewhere

The Definition of Workplace Violence

The Health and Safety Executive is the government agency responsible for your well-being and safety in the workplace. HSE defines violence at work in the following way:

  • Any incident in the workplace where a person/employee is “abused, threatened or assaulted by another person. It could be verbal abuse and/or threats as well as a physical attack at work

Under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, your employer has a duty to keep you safe from any risk of injury or harm while you are carrying out work for them onsite or offsite. Your employer must set in place all reasonable measures to reduce any risks to employees and to ensure that a working environment is safe.Should you have been the victim of an assault in the workplace and you can prove that your employer failed to identify the risk of this happening, they could be held responsible for the injuries both physical and mental that you suffered as a result of their negligence.

What Does the Law Say?

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974, clearly places the legal duty on all employers to ensure that any risk of violence in the workplace is controlled and eliminated. If there are 5 or more employees in the workplace, an employer must provide a “written” health and safety policy statement which sets out how your health and safety is managed.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999 obliges all employers to carry out risk assessments of the workplace on a regular basis to identify potential hazards to employees. Employers must protect all employees from any sort of exposure to harm or hazards as far as they reasonably can and this covers being attacked at work.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 obliges employers to report any accident that results in an employee’s death, all major injuries or absences from the workplace where employees are off work for 3 or more days. However, RIDDOR does not cover verbal abuse or threats in the workplace.

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 – the law requires that safety representatives be nominated which must be done by recognised trade unions, to represent workers when it comes to health and safety in the workplace. The law is an effective method in reducing the risk of accidents and ill-health occurring. The law requires that an employer consults with nominated representatives in the workplace who have the legal right to do the following:

  • To raise health and safety concerns and complaints with the management
  • To investigate complaints and hazards
  • To inspect workplaces when necessary
  • To investigate workplace incidents/accidents
  • To obtain relevant information from employers so they can carry out their role as safety representative in a workplace
  • To insist on safety committees

Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 obliges employers to inform and consult with their employees when it comes to all matters pertaining to their health and safety in the workplace.

Can I Use Self-defence If I Am Attacked at Work?

You have the right to defend yourself if you are attacked at work and put in a position where you have no other choice but to do so. The same applies if you are put in a situation where you feel you need to defend someone else who is being attacked at work. Under section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, anyone who is attacked “may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime”

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) As a Result of Being Attacked at Work

If you were attacked at work and now have mental issues as a result of the violent incident you experienced, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder which can develop if you were exposed to traumatising and stressful events. As a result you may experience the following:

  • Flashbacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling of distress
  • Difficulty sleeping

With the right support and medication, you can be treated but it is important to seek help sooner rather than later to prevent things from spiralling out of control. Should this happen, it can negatively impact your life, your well-being and your health could seriously suffer.

The Effects PTSD Can Have On You

If you were attacked at work, you may suffer from the following:

  • Flashbacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Feelings of distress
  • Difficulty sleeping

With the right support and medication, you can be treated but it is important to seek help sooner rather than later to prevent things from spiralling out of control. Should this happen, it can negatively impact your life, your well-being and your health could seriously suffer.

What Are the Symptoms Associated with PTSD?

Some of the most common symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder include the following:

  • Re-living the traumatic event, having flashbacks and nightmares
  • Avoidance – keeping away from places, people and things that you associate with the traumatic event
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression
  • Misuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Difficulty managing anger 

Are There Different Types of PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is categorised by its severity and the symptoms you experience as a result of having been attacked at work. These categories are as follows:

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe

There are different types of post-traumatic stress disorder too which are detailed below:

  • Complex PTSD which is often diagnosed both in adults and children who have been put through repeated, prolonged trauma
  • Birth Trauma refers to traumatic childbirth experiences
  • Delayed-onset PTSD refers to symptoms that you experience long after you experienced a traumatic event

PTSD Compensation

What Happens to You When You Are the Victim of a Traumatic Event Like Violence in the Workplace

If you experience a traumatic event like being attacked at work, it is perfectly normal for your body to respond with intense and frightening emotions. The normal response is “fight or flight” and your body produces specific chemicals in preparation which can result in you experiencing the following:

  • An increased heart rate
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Increased sweating
  • A loss of appetite

It is your body’s way of responding to a hazard or danger and it helps you either stand and fight or run away. If you have been attacked at work, you may also experience the following directly after the incident:

  • Shock
  • Denial

Both of these emotions subside after a few hours or days, but then you may experience the following emotions:

  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Sadness

You may start to feel better over time and recover from these emotions although this would be gradual. Should these emotions and feelings persist for several weeks, you may be developing mental health issues which includes post-traumatic stress disorder as well as depression.

What You Should Do If You Are Attacked at Work?

If you were attacked at work and feel that is hard to cope, you should turn to people you trust for support. You may find it hard to discuss things with loved ones or friends because you don’t want to stress them out. If this is the case, you should seek support from organisations that offer help and advice to people who have experienced a traumatic event such as being attacked in the workplace.

It is also very important that you take care of yourself and not let things get out of control. You should eat a healthy diet, take plenty of exercise and avoid alcohol or taking drugs which would only make things seem that much worse.

The Impact of Being Attacked at Work On Your Mental Health

Research has established that 1 in 3 people (adults) in the UK have experienced one traumatic event which they reported. If you were subjected to violence in the workplace and find it hard to cope with situations and people around you as a direct result of the attack, you should seek medical support and advice as soon as you can to prevent things from getting any worse.

What Treatment is Available If I Have Mental Health Issues Because I Was Attacked at Work?

If as a result of having been attacked at work, you experience symptoms associated with PTSD, you must seek support sooner rather than later. There are specific treatments that have proven effective when treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder with talking treatments being high on the list.

  • Watchful waiting involves close monitoring of your symptoms with an end goal being to assess whether things are improving or getting much worse.
  • Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which is a psychological treatment that has proved effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication which involves taking antidepressants which are often prescribed to relieve depression associated with PTSD

In order to be correctly treated for PTSD, you must be correctly diagnosed by a specialist who would set in place the best form of treatment to suit the symptoms you are experiencing. It is important to seek help and support as soon as possible because the symptoms of PTSD can seriously and negatively impact your life and your ability to cope at work.

If you are concerned about your ability to work because you have post-traumatic stress disorder having been the victim of an attack at work and feel that you may not be “fit for work”, you should discuss your concerns with your employer as well as your GP. You could also visit the Fit for Work website

Attacked at Work Resulting in Depression What to Do

If you suffer from depression having been attacked at work, the emotions you may be feeling would be extremely intense. Depression must not be confused as being “down” or being “sad” because it involves more long-term feelings of the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Negativity

Talking therapies have proved very effective in the treatment of depression and this includes the following treatments:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Anti-depressants may be prescribed either on their own or as well as talking therapies

When to Seek Professional Support, Help and Advice if You Are Attacked at Work

If the symptoms you are experiencing are negatively impacting your daily life both social and working, you should seek professional support, help and advice so you can begin the process of recovering from a traumatic event like being attacked at work. If you experience any of the following, it is time to get help:

  • You feel that there is no one to talk to
  • You still feel bad even after 6 weeks of having been attacked at work
  • A loved one or close friend has noticed a change in you and urges you to seek support and help
  • Your ability to work is being negatively impacted
  • You find it harder and harder to carry out daily chores
  • You have started drinking more alcohol or using drugs to help you cope

If you feel any of the above, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or family doctor. Once your symptoms and condition has been assessed, the doctor would refer you to a specialist so that a treatment programme can begin to get you on the road to recovery.

Are There Any Specialist Mental Health Services I Can Contact?

If you were the victim of an attack at work and now suffer from mental health problems, there are several specialist services you can contact. The sort of treatments and therapies that these services provide include talking therapies and counselling. You may find that the service you contact is coordinated by your local community mental health team (CMHT). This is typically based at your community mental health centre or your local hospital. You may also find that some of the services are available 24-hours which means you can get in touch with someone if you find yourself in a crisis.

Attacked at Work, Seeking Compensation Through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

If you were attacked at work and suffer from any sort of mental health issue because of the traumatic incident you were subjected to, you may be entitled to seek compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) which is government funded. The scheme is governed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) and their goal is to compensate anyone injured through violent crime in England, Wales and Scotland. The type of injury the scheme covers includes physical and/or mental.

CICA can award three types of compensation which are detailed below:

  • An award that is based on the sort of injury you sustained
  • Compensation for loss of earnings both past and future
  • Compensation for “special” expenses incurred

Filing an Application for Compensation Through the CICA

You must file your application to CICA on the requisite form otherwise it will not be considered. You would need to lodge your claim within 2 years of the incident when you were attacked at work occurred. CICA may extend the strict statutory time limit, but only under specific circumstances would they agree to do so. You must also have reported the incident to the Police at the time it occurred otherwise you may find that your application would be rejected.

There are 5 rules that you must abide by if you intend on seeking compensation through the CICA scheme. These are as follows:

  • You must immediately report the incident to the Police as well as to your employer and your Local Authority (if necessary) remembering to keep a copy of the report, the name and number of Police officers involved as well as the address of the Police station you contacted in your files. This information should also be logged in the Employee Rescue Statement Form
  • You must file your claim through CICA within the statutory 2 year time limit which begins from the date you were attacked in work
  • Keep all information including the CICA reference number in a safe place as it will be needed in all correspondence between CICA and yourself
  • You have 90 days from the date your CICA application was rejected to file a Review and Appeal against the decision
  • You must keep all copies of your paperwork

The best course of action to take should you wish to file for compensation through the CICA scheme, is to discuss your case with a solicitor who specialises in this type of violence at work claim. The reason being that this type of claim can be complex and there are many legal pitfalls that could result in your claim being rejected from the outset.

If you were the victim of an attack at work and your overall health and well-being has been seriously negatively, you must seek professional help before things spiral out of control. There are many organisations and charities that help people who were the victims of violence and left traumatised, some of which are listed in Further Resources.

Further Resources

If you would like more information on “Fit for Work”, please click on the link bellow:

More information on Fit for Work

If you need support, help and advice because you were attacked at the workplace, please follow the link below:

NHS England: coping with stress following a major incident (.pdf)

If you live in Scotland and would like advice and support following a violent incident you were subjected to in the workplace, please click on the link below:

NHS Inform (Scotland): people affected by major incidents

The following link provides essential support for people who have PTSD following an attack at work:

The Samaritans offer free emotional support 24 hours a day – in full confidence. Call 116 123 or email

The Samaritans

Mind provides information on a range of mental health topics to support people in their own area from 9.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday. Call 0300 123 3393 or email

Mind Infoline

Rethink provides specific solution-based guidance – 0300 5000927 or email:

Rethink Advice and Information Service

PTSD Compensation