Chapter Three: Victims and Victimization

Annual # of Victimizations in the US
The NCVS indicates that is is about 20 million.
Economic Loss
When the costs of goods taken during property crimes is added to productivity losses caused by injury, pain, and emotional trauma, the cost of victimization is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
System Costs
- The American taxpayer is burdened with the costs of crime and justice. Difficult to pinpoint the exact costs of crime, criminologists using methods similar to the employed to determine civil damages find that over the lifetime of their careers in crime the typical criminal costs society $2 million. Using this form of analysis, violent crime by juveniles alone costs the United States more than $160 billion each year.
- Costs incurred by federal, state, and local governments to assist victims of juvenile violence, such as medical treatment for injuries services victims, which amount to about $30 billion. The remaining $130 billion is due to losses suffered by victims, such as lost wages, pain, suffering, and reduced quality of life.
- Cost of the justice system, legal costs, treatment costs, and so on are included, the total loss due to crime amounts to $450 billion annually, or about $1,800 per U.S. citizen.
Individual Costs
- Victims may suffer long-term losses in earnings and occupational attainment. Victim costs resulting from an assault are as high as $14,000 and costs are even higher for rape and arson; the average murder costs more than $4 million.
- Americans who suffer a violent victimization during adolescence earn about $110,000 less than non victims during their lifetime; Canadian victims earn $300-000 less. Victims bear psychological and physical ills that inhibit first their academic achievement and later their economic and professional success.
Suffering Stress and PTSD
-Victims may suffer stress and anxiety long after the incident is over and the justice process has been completed. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common problem especially when the victim does not receive adequate support from family and friends.
- Men are particularly susceptible to post-rape PTSD, believing that their situation is both unique and "un-manly."
-Traumatic reactions include sleep disturbances, concentration difficulties, nightmares and flashbacks, feelings of hopelessness, constant headaches, profuse sweating, and rapid heartbeat.
Adolescent Stress
Younger victims are more prone to suffer stress. They are particularly at risk to PTSD. Kids who have undergone traumatic sexual experiences later suffer psychological deficits.
Relationship Stress
Victims of spousal abuse suffer an extremely high prevalence of psychological problems, including but not limited to depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, substance use disorders, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Those who experience crime are more likely to be fearful and change their behaviors. Victims of violent crime are the most deeply affected, fearing a repeat of their attack.
Vicarious Fear
Even if people are not personally victimized, those who observe or are exposed to violence on a routine basis become fearful.
Antisocial Behavior
The abuse-crime phenomenon is referred to as the cycle of violence. Both boys and girls are likely to engage in violent behavior if they were the targets of physical abuse and were exposed to violent behavior among adults they know or live with or were exposed to weapons. People who were physically or sexually abused, especially young males, are much more likely to smoke, drink, and take drugs than are non-abused youth. As adults, victims are more likely to commit crimes themselves.
Problems of Crime Victims
Victimization causes social problems; Victimization causes stress and anger; Victimization promotes revenge; Spurious association.
Two events or variables have no direct casual connection, yet it may be wrongly inferred that they do, due to either coincidence or the presence of a certain third unseen factor.
The Social Ecology of Victimization
Violent crimes are slightly more likely to take place in an open, public area (such as a street, a park, or a field) in a school building, or at a commercial establishment. The more serious violent crimes (rape) typically take place after 6pm. Two thirds of rapes and sexual assaults occur between 6pm-6am. Less serious forms of violence (armed robberies) are more likely to occur in daytime.
Neighborhood Characteristics and Victimization
Those living in the central city have significantly higher rates of theft and violence than suburbanites; people living in rural areas have a victimization rate almost half that of city dwellers. The risk of murder for both men and women is significantly higher in disorganized inner-city areas where gangs flourish and drug trafficking is commonplace.
Crime in Schools
Schools are the locale of a great deal of victimization because they are populated by one of the most dangerous segments of society, teenage males.
The Victim's Household
Within the United States, larger homes, African American homes, urban homes, and those in the West are the most vulnerable to crime.
In contrast, rural homes, white homes, and those in the Northeast are the least likely to contain crime victims or be the target of theft offenses, such as burglary or larceny. People who own their homes are less vulnerable than renters.
Smaller households in less populated areas have lower victimization risk.
Victim Characteristics
Social and demographic characteristics also distinguish victims and non victims. The most important of these factors are gender; age; social status; and race.
Gender and Victimization
Males are more likely than females to be the victims of violent crime. Men are almost twice as likely as women to experience robbery.
Women are six times more likely than men to be victims of rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
Age and Victimization
Young people face a much greater victimization risk than do older persons.
Victim risk diminishes rapidly after age 25: teens 16 to 19 suffer 45 violent crimes per 1,000 whereas people over 65 experience only 2 per 1,000. Teens and young adults experience the highest rates of violent crime. Violent crime rates declined in recent years for most age groups.
Elderly Victims
Frauds and scams, purse snatching, pocket picking, stealing checks from the mail, and committing crimes in long-term care settings claim more older than younger victims.
Another emerging problem is the rising number of elderly living in long-term care facilities.
Social Status
The poorest Americans are also the most likely victims of violent and property crime. Homeless people suffer very high rates of assault. This association occurs across all gender, age, and racial groups.
Marital Status
Never-married males and females are victimized more often than married people. Widows and widowers have the lowest victimization risk. This is also influenced by age, gender, and lifestyle. (Adolescents and teens, who have the highest victimization risk, are too young to have been married).
Race and Ethnicity
African Americans are more likely than whites to be victims of violent crime because of income inequality. Racial and minority group members are often forced to live in deteriorated urban areas beset by alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, racial discrimination, and violence. Their lifestyle places them in the most at-risk population group. However, this seems to be declining and the racial gap seems to be narrowing.
Repeat Victimization
Households that have experienced victimization in the past are the ones most likely to experience it again in the future.
Most repeat victimizations occur soon after a previous crime has occurred, suggesting that repeat victims share some personal characteristic that makes them a magnet for predators.
Characteristics of Victims
Target vulnerability (physical weakness); Target gratifiability (victims who have something that someone else wants); Target antagonism (being gay or argumentative)
Relationship Between Victims and Criminals
Males are more likely to be violently victimized by a stranger, and females are more likely to be victimized by a friend, an acquaintance, or an intimate. (more than 60%)
Crimes tend to be interracial: black offenders victimize blacks, and whites victimize whites.
Theories of Victimization
Victim Precipitation Theory; Lifestyle Theory; Deviant Place Theory; and Routine Activities Theory.
Victim Precipitation Theory
Active Precipitation: victims act provocatively, use threats or righting words, or even attack first.
Passive Precipitation: occurs when the victim exhibits some personal characteristic that unknowingly either threatens or encourages the attacker. (related to power - if the target group can establish themselves economically or gain political power in the community, their vulnerability will diminish).
Victim Impulsivity
Both male and female victims have an impulsive personality that might render them abrasive and obnoxious, characteristics that might incite victimization.
Lifestyle Theory
Crime is not a random occurrence, but rather a function of the victim's lifestyle. People who belong to groups that have extremely risky life - homeless, runaways, drug users - are at high risk for victimization; the more time they are exposed to street life, the greater their risk of becoming crime victims.
Deviant Place Theory
The greater their exposure to dangerous places, the more likely people will become victims of crime and violence. Deviant places are poor, densely populated, highly transient neighborhoods in which commercial and residential property exist side by side.