Victimization

VII. Effects and Consequences of Victimization

A. Physical Consequences

The physical consequences of victimization are often visible and range in seriousness from bruises and scrapes, to broken bones, to fatal injuries. Other, less foreseeable injuries, such as the threat of sexually transmitted diseases, can also be the result of a victimization incident. Forensic evidence collection can detect physical injury and other useful evidence to support the claim of a crime. For example, a specially trained medical nurse can perform sexual assault forensic examination and document vaginal–anal and oral injury from an alleged rape victim.

B. Psychological/Emotional and Mental Consequences

Emotional, psychological, and mental consequences of victimization may be less externally obvious but are just as serious as physical injury. Stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders are but a few that crime victims experience. There are distinct mental stages that follow a victimization incident: At first, victims feel shock and fear, and perhaps retreat from society; after this initial feeling of shock begins to subside, victims experience a range of emotions as they begin to readapt to their lives; finally, but with the consequences that victimization carries, victims attempt to reconcile and find a balance to allow them to pick up with their lives and routines where they left off. Persistent mental consequences such as acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance dependency, can occur.

C. Financial Consequences

The monetary costs of victimization to the victim are at times easy to calculate and at other times impossible to measure. Medical expenses, property losses, lost wages and legal costs are financial consequences that victims and their families must bear. Losses to the victim that are not as easy to estimate a dollar value for, but are nevertheless salient, are pain and suffering, and fear, among others. There are also financial consequences of victimization that society must bear: victim services, witness assistance programs, costs to the criminal justice system, and negative public opinion. In 1996, personal crime was estimated to cost $105 billion annually in medical costs, lost earnings, and public program costs related to victim assistance. The estimated cost jumped to $450 billion annually when the pain, suffering, and reduced quality of life that increased the cost of crime to victims were included (Miller, Cohen, & Wiersema, 1996).

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