Victimisation

Victimisation (or victimization) is the process of being victimised or becoming a victim. Research that studies the process, rates, incidence, and prevalence of victimisation falls under the body of victimology. Peer victimisation is the experience among children of being a target of the aggressive behaviour of other children, who are not siblings and not necessarily age-mates.[1] Secondary victimisation (also known as post crime victimisation[2] or double victimisation[3]) relates to further victimisation following on from the original victimisation.[2] For example, victim blaming, inappropriate post-assault behaviour or language by medical personnel or other organisations with which the victim has contact may further add to the victim's suffering.[4] Victims may also experience secondary victimisation by justice system personnel upon entering the criminal justice system. Victims will lose time, suffer reductions in income, often be ignored by bailiffs and other courthouse staff and will remain uninformed about updates in the case such as hearing postponements, to the extent that their frustration and confusion will turn to apathy and a declining willingness to further participate in system proceedings.[3] For example, rape is especially stigmatising in cultures with strong customs and taboos regarding sex and sexuality. For example, a rape victim (especially one who was previously a virgin) may be viewed by society as being "damaged." Victims in these cultures may suffer isolation, be disowned by friends and family, be prohibited from marrying, or be divorced if already married.[5] The re-traumatisation of the sexual assault, abuse, or rape victim through the responses of individuals and institutions is an example of secondary victimisation. Secondary victimisation is especially common in cases of drug-facilitated, acquaintance, and statutory rape. The term revictimisation refers to a pattern wherein the victim of abuse and/or crime has a statistically higher tendency to be victimised again, either shortly thereafter[6] or much later in adulthood in the case of abuse as a child. This latter pattern is particularly notable in cases of sexual abuse.[7][8] While an exact percentage is almost impossible to obtain, samples from many studies suggest the rate of revictimisation for people with histories of sexual abuse is very high. The vulnerability to victimisation experienced as an adult is also not limited to sexual assault, and may include physical abuse as well.[7] Reasons as to why revictimisation occurs vary by event type, and some mechanisms are unknown. Revictimisation in the short term is often the result of risk factors that were already present, which were not changed or mitigated after the first victimisation; sometimes the victim cannot control these factors. Examples of these risk factors include living or working in dangerous areas, chaotic familial relations, having an aggressive temperament, drug or alcohol usage and unemployment.[7] Revictimisation of adults who were previously sexually abused as children is more complex. Multiple theories exist as to how this functions. Some scientists propose a maladaptive form of learning; the initial abuse teaches inappropriate beliefs and behaviours that persist into adulthood. The victim believes that abusive behaviour is "normal" and comes to expect it from others in the context of relationships, and thus may unconsciously seek out abusive partners or cling to abusive relationships. Another theory draws on the principle of learned helplessness. As children, they are put in situations that they have little to no hope of escaping, especially when the abuse comes from a caregiver.[8] One theory goes that this state of being unable to fight back or flee the danger leaves the last primitive option: freeze, an off-shoot of death-feigning. In adulthood, this response remains, and some professionals have noted that victimisers sometimes seem to pick up subtle cues of this when choosing a victim.[9] This behaviour makes the victim an easy target, as they sometimes make little effort to fight back or even vocalise. And after the fact, they often make excuses and minimise what happened to them, sometimes never even reporting the assault to the authorities. Levels of criminal activity are measured through three major data sources: the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), self-report surveys of criminal offenders, and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). However, the UCR and self-report surveys generally report details regarding the offender and the criminal offense; information on the victim is only included so far as his/her relationship to the offender, and perhaps a superficial overview of his/her injuries. The NCVS is a tool used to measure the existence of actual, rather than only those reported, crimes the victimisation rate [11] by asking individuals about incidents in which they may have been victimised. The National Crime Victimization Survey is the United States' primary source of information on crime victimisation. Each year, data is obtained from a nationally represented sample of 77,200 households comprising nearly 134,000 persons on the frequency, characteristics and consequences of criminal victimisation in the United States. This survey enables the (government) to estimate the likelihood of victimisation by Rape (more valid estimates were calculated after the surveys redesign in 1992 that better tapped instances of sexual assault, particularly of Date rape),[3] robbery, assault, theft, household burglary, and motor vehicle theft for the population as a whole as well as for segments of the population such as women, the elderly, members of various racial groups, city dwellers, or other groups."[11] According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the NCVS reveals that, from 1994 to 2005, violent crime rates have declined, reaching the lowest levels ever recorded.[11] Property crimes continue to decline