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How to Avoid Making it Worse: Common Family Problems after an Arrest

Common Family Problems after an Arrest

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Titus

“It’s your fault.” … “How are we going to pay for this?” … “What if our daughter has to spend years in prison? It will ruin her life.” … “This would have never happened if I was a better friend.” …. Whether they are inward thoughts or outward comments, these emotions are among common family problems after an arrest. The last thing you want to do, however, is make it all worse by conflict with others or within yourself.

Common Family Problems after an Arrest

Families who experience the arrest of a loved one often face similar problems.

• Embarrassment

A feeling of embarrassment or humiliation could come into play for both the defendant and the parents of the defendant. Both may feel judged indefinitely by coworkers, extended family or acquaintances.

• Financial stress

After an arrest, the defendant and his or her family will probably worry about money, such as how to pay for an attorney or how to maintain income in the event the defendant loses a job.

• Placing blame

Everyone in the family could face the hardship of placing the blame on themselves. Parents could feel that they failed. Siblings or friends would wonder if something would have been different if they did something differently. The guilty person in the crime will have to work through many internal questions.

• Worrying about the future

Especially if the defendant is facing significant jail time, parents, spouses and children will undoubtedly lose sleep worrying about the fate of the defendant and that of the family.

• General grief

Grief is among the most challenging of the common family problems after an arrest. Losing someone to a prison sentence is a great loss that can lead to feelings of sorrow.

How to Avoid Making it Worse

Common Family Problems after an Arrest

Everyone in a family – or in the circle of friends – probably experienced similar feelings after the arrest, or will at least understand others’ feelings. Talking through those feelings with loved ones is one of the best ways to avoid making the situation worse.

As you’re talking through those feelings, make your best efforts to uncover truths and facts. Once you know the facts, you can’t deny them; ironically, even if the truth is tough to bear, it will likely be a stress reliever in the long run. You know you can’t change the past and you can’t change facts; all you can do is accept them and move on to try your best to improve the outlook of the future.

One thing you will definitely want to avoid is a shouting match with a spouse or other family member about who was to blame for the arrest. As you’re discussing the problems, avoid making accusatory comments or raising your voice.

If embarrassment is what you’re feeling, one thing you can do is not judge your entire being by this one mistake. It’s one thing that happened – not your entire life. Everyone makes mistakes; the key is to move on and become stronger in the end.

Financially, there are many resources that can assist you, including a public defender and a reliable bail bond agency. In addition, just because someone has an arrest on her record, it doesn’t necessarily mean she will never be able to find a job again. It may be difficult, but the prisoner can regain a sense of independence after her release.

Blame and grief are two of the common family problems after an arrest that may never be resolved without proper counseling. A father who feels that he failed, for example, would need to think about all of his successes and how he can help his son come back from this arrest. The son will need to resolve his feelings as well; he may have started out by placing the blame on someone else for the crime, but he will need to accept his part in what happened and eventually find forgiveness within himself for the harm that was caused.

Individuals or families who are experiencing feelings of guilt or grief may benefit from professional grief counseling or group therapy.

Common Family Problems after an Arrest


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