I. Introduction

II. Types of Victimization

III. Estimating the Extent of Victimization: National Sources of Victimization Data in the United States

IV. Patterns and Trends in Victimization Rates

V. Theories of Victimization

VI. Recurring Victimization

VII. Effects and Consequences of Victimization

VIII. The Victim–Offender Relationship

IX. Domains of Victimization

X. Victims’ Rights

XI. Victim Assistance

XII. Comparative and International Victimology

XIII. Bibliography

I. Introduction

Victimization is the outcome of deliberate action taken by a person or institution to exploit, oppress, or harm another, or to destroy or illegally obtain another’s property or possessions. The Latin word victima means “sacrificial animal,” but the term victim has evolved to include a variety of targets, including oneself, another individual, a household, a business, the state, or the environment. The act committed by the offender is usually a violation of a criminal or civil statute but does not necessarily have to violate a law. Harm can include psychological/emotional damage, physical or sexual injury, or economic loss.

Victimology is the scientific study of victims. Victimologists focus on a range of victim-related issues, including estimating the extent of different types of victimization, explaining why victimization occurs to whom or what, the effects and consequences of victimization, and examining victims’ rights within the legal system. Different domains of victimization are also of interest. Victimology is characterized as an interdisciplinary field—academics, practitioners, and advocates worldwide from the fields of criminology, economics, forensic sciences, law, political science, public health, psychology, social work, sociology, nursing, and medicine focus on victims’ plight.

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