VIII. The Victim–Offender Relationship

A. Victimization by Intimate Partners

The National Violence Against Women Survey comprises two national surveys administered in 1998 and 2000 to measure physical and sexual victimization and stalking in a sample of men and women in the United States. The survey reported that women experience more partner violence than men: 25% of women, compared with 8% of men, reported rape or physical assault in their lifetime. The majority of violence against women is committed by a spouse, former spouse, or other intimate partner: 76% of women who had been raped or assaulted since age 18 had been victimized by an intimate partner, compared with 18% of men. Women, regardless of victimization type, were also more likely than men to be injured during an assault: 32% of women compared with 16% of men. Victims of stalking are most often female, and most of these stalking victims (59%) are stalked by intimate partners, whereas male victims of stalking are most often stalked by strangers or acquaintances (Tjaden &Thoennes, 1998).

B. Victimization by Acquaintances

The NCVS presents data on the victim–offender relationship for certain crimes. A few examples from the NCVS demonstrate the prevalence of victimization by friends or acquaintances. According to 2005 NCVS estimates, male victims of violence were victimized by friends or acquaintances 36% of the time. Similarly, 39% of female victims of violence were victimized by friends or acquaintances. For rape and sexual assault, 38%of female respondents were victimized by friends or acquaintances; there were no recorded incidents of rape or sexual assaults of males by friends or acquaintances. Last, 18%of male and 39%of female victims had experienced robbery by friends or acquaintances.

C. Victimization by Strangers

The NCVS also provides information on victimization by strangers. As an example, the 2005 NCVS reported that 54% of male victims of violent crimes were victimized by strangers, compared with 34% of female victims. Sampson (1987) studied personal violence and theft by strangers to test an opportunity theory model of predatory victimization by examining how individual and community characteristics affect victimization risk. Violent victimization by strangers was experienced by 3.6% of the sample’s males and 1.1% of the sample’s females; 1% of the females experienced personal theft victimization by strangers, compared with 0.6% of the males. The most significant predictor of stranger victimization was alcohol use by the offender. Both individual and structural variables proved important in studying victimization by strangers, but thus far little research has been devoted to the topic.

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