Victimization and its types. Victimization. The relationship between the concepts of “victim of crime” and “victim of crime”

A person is a product of interaction with the social environment. At the same time, the environment has a decisive influence on the formation of personality, and this influence is not always for the good. In some cases, the process of socialization leads to the fact that the individual turns into a downtrodden or aggressive creature, ready to sacrifice himself. Not for the sake of some higher ideals or the well-being of loved ones, but simply because the position of victim is close and familiar to him. This feature of a person’s behavior and worldview is called victimization, which literally translated from Latin means “sacrifice.”

Areas of study

Before talking about such a social phenomenon as victimization, as well as identifying the reasons for its development and influence on other processes of social development, it is necessary to clarify the basic concepts of this term. It must be said that this problem is dealt with in such areas of scientific knowledge as psychology, sociology, pedagogy, jurisprudence, etc., which elevates this topic to the ranks of the most pressing.

General concept

Victimization is a social process by which a person becomes the victim of a crime. Simply put, it is the result of the offender's actions towards the victim. Here it is worth defining the concept of victimization. It refers to the tendency to become a victim. Thus, victimization and victimization are inseparable concepts, in which the former is a characteristic of the latter. It can be measured by the number of cases of harm and the totality of characteristics of the victims of the crime.

Victimological prevention

In our country, there is very little statistical information about victims of crime, which makes it difficult to collect and develop methods for preventing victimized behavior. We can highlight some countries in the world where victimology is developing most intensively: the USA, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Italy. They actively develop not only theoretical problems of victimology, but also practical aspects of the victimological direction of crime prevention.

Thus, research centers in some US universities conduct research on various indicators of victimization of the population and organize special victimology clinics. In German police educational institutions, a special course on the basics of victimology is taught, lectures are given and seminars are held on the application of the provisions of this course in police practice. Victimology has also received a certain development in Japan, where victimological research is carried out by a comprehensive legal research institute and a police research institute, which have special laboratories of psychology and educational work that study the personality and behavior of victims, the damage suffered by them, and the forms of relationships between victims and offenders.

Attempts to protect people from criminal environments in foreign countries are even made through architectural planning. This is a fairly new direction, but has already received development. For example, in one of the areas of London (Stonebridge), the development features made it difficult for police officers to apprehend criminals. Soon, at the request of law enforcement agencies, the municipality decided to demolish a number of houses and redevelop Stonebridge. Architectural features that created a crime-prone landscape were eliminated, and residents of Stonebridge were allocated £1,000 by the Housing Ministry to equip each apartment in the block with an alarm system and other security measures.

Victimization: concept and types

The founder of such a subject as victimology was L. V. Frank. In fact, without his influence the concept of victimization would not have emerged. So, Frank introduces his definition of the term. According to him, victimization is the process of becoming a victim, as well as its result, regardless of whether this is an isolated case or a mass one.

However, immediately after this, a barrage of criticism falls on Frank. Other researchers note that the concepts of process and its result should be different from each other, and not be a single whole.

For example, Riveman argues that victimization is the act in which a crime committed against a person has an impact on the development of his propensity. And if a person turns from a potential victim into a real one, then this process is called “victimization-result”.

How to get rid of victimization

Victimization, especially in a pronounced form, is a mental disorder, a disease, and the treatment of any disease should begin with eliminating its cause. But in psychotherapy this, unfortunately, is not always possible. So, if the victim syndrome was formed under the influence of defects in childhood socialization, then we can no longer change anything in the past. Therefore, it is not the cause that will have to be eliminated, but its consequences. And here there are several ways, but they all require the intervention of a qualified psychologist, psychotherapist, or even a psychiatrist:

  • Changing attitudes towards the past. After all, it is precisely this that shapes human behavior in this case. Psychotherapeutic techniques allow you to get rid of the consequences of childhood mental trauma, change a person’s attitude towards what happened to him in the past, teach him to let go of the past and feel independent of it.
  • Forming a positive attitude towards yourself and others, increasing self-esteem and self-esteem. Self-confidence and gaining a sense of independence will allow a person to abandon the status of a victim.
  • Using cognitive psychotherapy methods to correct attitudes, views, values, attitudes towards oneself and others.
  • Development of self-control, formation of attitudes towards an adequate type of behavior, development of communication skills and the ability to interact with other people, correctly assess their intentions and attitudes. This can be achieved with the help of special socio-psychological trainings.
  • Relieving tension and the effects of stress, getting out of a state of depression, which is achieved with the help of special medications prescribed by a psychiatrist.

But an important condition for correcting the behavior of people with victim syndrome is the creation of a favorable social environment, finding true friends, like-minded people, and close people. And perhaps for this it will be necessary to change their place of residence and go to a place where this person will not be seen as a victim.

Process communication

To prove this, it is worth noting that these two phenomena are inextricably linked. Any action aimed at achieving the state of victim has its logical conclusion.

This means that at the moment when a person is attacked, regardless of what the outcome of the event was, he automatically acquires the status of a victim. In this case, the attack itself is victimization in the process concept. And the person against whom the crime was committed is the result.

That is why victimization is the process of influence of one event on another. The more crimes occur, the higher the risk of becoming a victim.

Victimization Case Study

In order to understand under what circumstances an ordinary person becomes a victim of crime, it is necessary to conduct a number of studies.

Victimization and its degree are determined if total data on the number of all victims is available. This does not depend in any way on the severity of the crime, its outcome or the presence of other factors that provoked the incident.

Simply put, victimization is the totality of all cases in which an object suffered moral or physical damage.

In addition, thanks to the study of the degree of predisposition to becoming a victim, we can talk about such a concept as crime. If we draw parallels between the cause and effect of these phenomena, the conclusion suggests itself. The more victims, the higher the crime rate, which means that human destructiveness is actively developing as an element of the social life of society.

Characteristics of victims of assault

A victim is a person or group of people who may be harmed (potential victims) or harmed (actual victims) by crimes. Victims of a crime can be not only individuals, but also legal entities, as well as groups of people who were directly harmed by the crime, members of their families, close people, relatives, and dependents of the primary victims.

Types of victims:

1) at the sociological level - examples: a lonely victim, a refugee, a foreign worker, a victim with a special family and marital status, a victim of a large crowd of people, etc.;

2) at the psychological level, passive, unconsciously active, consciously active, consciously and unconsciously offending victims are distinguished;

3) at the biological level, the physiological and psychopathological traits of victims, victims with bad heredity and “recidivist victims” are considered.

Victimization is an increased predisposition of a person or social group of persons, due to any circumstances, to become a victim of a crime (includes elements of subjective and objective vulnerability). Every person is a potential victim.

Types of victimization (different types can be combined):

1) individual (personal) - for example, hot temper, aggressiveness, frivolity;

2) role-playing (professional) - examples of victims: security guard, collector, taxi driver;

3) situational - the victim was at the wrong time and in the wrong place: a dark deserted alley, an unguarded parking lot, a helpless state.

Forms of victimization:

1) guilty - with a negative social assessment of the victim’s behavior, when the victim, by his behavior, provokes, promotes or facilitates the commission of assaults by the criminal (greed, gullibility, frivolity);

2) innocent - the victim acts as a passive element of the situation, but for some reason she can be burdensome (subject to elimination as a witness or with an active readiness to counteract the crime, and also, for example, “tired of the old rich husband”) or a convenient object for the criminal (person in a helpless state).

Victimization means:

1) in the individual (single) aspect - the process of turning a person into a real victim of a crime;

2) in the social (mass) aspect - the process of transforming a social group of people into victims of crime.

The reason for victimization may be a change in social roles: a person began to lead an antisocial lifestyle - he lost his job and started drinking, became a drug addict, or a group of people was forced to become refugees or migrants. Victimization may be due to individual behavior: the girl began walking along dark alleys after studying.

The victimization index is equal to the number of victims divided by the population. This is the amount of damage caused by crimes: the number of deaths, stolen property from victims of assault.

Types of victimization

Like any other phenomenon, the process of becoming a victim is divided into types. Thus, by its nature it can be individual or mass.

In the first case, it is implied that the harm is caused to one specific person.

In the second case, we are talking about a social phenomenon - a set of both victims of crime and the acts of harm themselves, subject to certainty of place and time, as well as the presence of qualitative and quantitative characteristics. Another such mass phenomenon is defined by the term “crime”.

Also, depending on the degree of social coordination of both crime itself and the subject’s predisposition to it, the following types of this process are distinguished:

1) Primary. It means causing harm to a specific person at the time of the crime itself. It does not matter whether it was moral, material or physical damage.

2) Secondary victimization is indirect harm. It may be associated, for example, with the immediate environment, when all members of his family suffer from the theft of property from one person. There are other ways to indirectly cause harm. It is expressed in labeling, accusations of provoking illegal actions, alienation, humiliation of honor and dignity, and other actions aimed at desocializing the victim.

3) Tertiary. It refers to the influence on the victim with the help of law enforcement agencies or the media for one’s own purposes.

Sometimes they also distinguish quaternary, understanding by it such a phenomenon as genocide.

What is victimology?

Victimology is a scientific discipline that studies how people or groups of people become victims of crime. It examines the behavior of the victim and her relationship with the offender before the crime, at the time of its commission and after it. In addition, victimology studies the crisis states in which victims find themselves, determines the necessary assistance measures and finds ways to prevent repeated crimes.

Particular attention is paid to such aspects as:

  • the victim’s place in the chain of events that ended in the crime against her;
  • the relationship between the offender and the victim (both long-term and those that preceded the crime);
  • sociological, moral, psychological and other characteristics of the victim;
  • the behavior of the victim at the time the crime was committed against her and after it.

To finally understand what victimology is, let’s consider the basic concepts with which this science operates. These are “victim behavior”, “victimization” and “victimization”. All these terms are also derived from the Latin word “victima”, which means “sacrifice”. Let's look at the meaning of each of these concepts in more detail.

Victim behavior

These are all kinds of actions, statements and other actions by which a person increases the likelihood that a crime will be committed against him. Victim behavior can be considered a night walk in a desert area or presence at a disco in very conspicuous clothes. This category also includes violation of public order (there are often people in society who want to calm the bully down with brute force).


Sometimes victimization is considered synonymous with the term “victim behavior,” but this concept also includes physical and mental states. Circumstances also play a role. For example, a person who returns home at night in a state of alcoholic intoxication is a victim. And beautiful girls are more likely to be sexually assaulted, so attractive appearance can also be considered a factor in victimization.

The state of victimization cannot be considered as a reason to share guilt between the criminal and the victim. The exception is situations when victimization was a consequence of an offense committed by the victim (for example, if a heavily drunk guy behaved defiantly, provoked a fight and was injured in it).

In most cases, the victim's victimization is not considered by the court as a mitigating circumstance for the offender. However, for public opinion it can become a reason for the so-called “victim blaming” - partial or complete shifting of blame onto the victim (this Anglicism has already become an established term in the Russian language, since it most accurately defines the meaning of this phenomenon).

By the way, victim blaming is a big problem in modern society. Most often, it manifests itself in public condemnation of victims of sexual violence (in the style of “It’s her own fault - there was no point in dressing up like that!”), as well as victims of domestic violence (“So she deserved it, because there is no smoke without fire!”).


This is the name for the process of turning a victimized person into a victim. This process can be quite complex and take a long time from the first contact between the offender and the victim until the crime is committed. Victimization also includes the victim's reaction to the crime and subsequent events (including the victim blaming mentioned above, which is sometimes called “re-victimization”).

Types of victimization

Since the concepts of process and result are inseparable from each other, the types of the latter should also be clarified.

Victimization happens:

1) Individual. Consists of a combination of personal qualities and the influence of the situation. It is understood as a predisposition or already realized ability to become a victim in conditions where, objectively, the situation made it possible to avoid this.

2) Mass. It refers to a set of people who have a number of qualities that determine their degree of vulnerability to criminal acts. Moreover, each individual person acts as an element of this system.

At the same time, mass victimization has its own subtypes, including group, object-species and subject-species.

Factors that give rise to a tendency towards victimization

Victimization in psychology is a special understanding of the world when a person, with all his thoughts and actions, stimulates the attraction of troubles towards him, and he himself acts as a victim.

The development of victimization does not occur on its own, but under the influence of certain factors, which are conventionally divided into 2 groups:

  • phenomenological;
  • social.

Social factors

Educators and psychologists unanimously believe that a person who grew up in a normal environment does not have a subconscious desire to harm himself and becomes a victim. In addition, the instinct of self-preservation inherent in nature prevents the emergence of victim traits.

Based on these facts, many experts see the reason for the development of victimization in a dysfunctional environment, when a child from childhood has formed distorted ideas about himself, about relationships with other people, and about moral values.

The main reasons contributing to the disruption of socialization and influencing the tendency to take the role of a victim are:

  • ugly socialization - if a child sees asocial forms of behavior from an early age - drunkenness, drug addiction, cruelty;
  • Excessive guardianship of a child can also harm his emotional development no less than dislike and antisocial behavior of parents. By protecting them from troubles and the influence of the outside world, parents actually do a “disservice” to the child, since already in adolescence (and even more so as an adult), a person who is accustomed to others deciding everything for him and, fearing this terrible world, very often begins to believe that it is more profitable and easier to be a victim;
  • problems with the environment of the child and adolescent - during a normal life in the family, the child may receive negative experiences at school or another social group to which he belongs. Sometimes such traumas hit the fragile child’s psyche so hard that children who become victims of such situations transmit victimized behavior into adulthood;
  • dislike for the child - when in the family the child felt superfluous, unnecessary, and perhaps one of the parents tried to make him feel guilty because of his personal dissatisfaction. All this negatively affects the psyche of a little person and triggers the formation of a victimized behavior pattern;

  • observation of scenes of a violent nature - scenes of cruelty seen have a very strong impact on the psychological state of children and lay the preconditions for victimized behavior;
  • development of an inferiority complex - can develop both due to physical disabilities and psychological problems and entail the development of a constant stay in a sacrificial position.

Phenomenological factors

Under the influence of an unfavorable social environment, qualities of the individual are formed in the developing personality, which over time turn him into a dependent and weak-willed victim.

Some researchers believe that a prerequisite for the development of victimization in a child is his early cruel attitude towards other children and animals.

Having become accustomed to demonstrating strength, growing up, a person believes that aggression is the norm and is ready for the fact that violence can be used against him, he can take the role of a victim.

Sometimes cruelty becomes natural and habitual for teenagers under the influence of the bad influence of aggressive peers, frequent viewing of cruel scenes in the virtual world and films.

However, phenomenological factors have a more indirect influence on an individual’s victimization than the social environment, upbringing and living conditions, since adolescents may well distinguish virtual reality from real reality.

The causes of victimization are not always related to childhood trauma. Adults can demonstrate similar behavior due to various mental disorders - depression, psychosis, neuroses, which they developed in adulthood due to current life circumstances.

Psychological theories of victimization

As mentioned above, many disciplines are puzzled by the concept of victimization. Including psychology. Many scientists have put forward their theories to explain why a person turns into a victim. Let's look at the most popular of them.

According to Fromm, Erickson, Rogers and others, victimization is (in psychology) a special phenomenon inherent in every person due to the presence of destructive traits. At the same time, the destructive focus is not only external, but also towards oneself.

Freud also adhered to this concept, however, he explained that without conflict there can be no development. The concept of the confrontation between two instincts: self-preservation and self-destruction also fits here.

Adler says that every person has an aggressive drive. And typical behavior is a reflection of inferiority. It does not matter whether it is real or imaginary.

Stekel's reasoning is also interesting. In his opinion, in dreams a person shows his hatred, his actual attitude towards the surrounding reality and his tendency to manifest an attraction to death.

But Horney rather relates his reasoning to pedagogical activity. He says that personality is formed from childhood. Many factors can influence the manifestation of neuroses and, as a result, difficulty in social functioning.

How does victimization manifest itself?

The term “victimization” originally appeared in law and criminology. It meant processes that lead to the fact that some people are predisposed to become victims of aggression, violence, and fraud. The behavior of the victims is such that they themselves provoke various antisocial actors to commit illegal actions against them.

Victim behavior from a psychological point of view

In psychology, this phenomenon began to be studied relatively recently - at the end of the last century. But the interest of researchers in it increased as it became clear that the origins of victim behavior should be sought precisely in the psychological characteristics of the victims. Moreover, it has been proven that the tendency to expose oneself to the danger of becoming a victim of violence is not just a whim or stupidity, but a deviation from the norm, which can turn into a real mental illness that requires serious treatment, including medication.

Victimization manifests itself in the peculiar behavior of a person who provokes people prone to aggression and causes violence towards himself. People say about such people very accurately: “He asked for it.” Examples of victimized behavior are varied: a wife is rude and behaves provocatively with her drunken husband; a girl openly flirting with “bad guys” in a bar; a teenager complaining to teachers about his peers; a hostage who demonstratively refuses to obey terrorists, etc.

But people prone to victim behavior cannot be called fools or masochists. Although from the outside it seems that the role of victims attracts them, this is only partly true. Such individuals usually love to complain about their fate, thereby attracting attention to themselves that they cannot otherwise achieve. But by openly demonstrating their weaknesses, grievances, revealing their pathetic essence to everyone, they evoke not pity, but contempt and aggression.

This is clearly noticeable in groups of teenagers or in school classes, where the most pitiful and seemingly harmless children are bullied. A well-known researcher of the behavior of people and higher animals, ethologist Konrad Lorenz, compared a teenage group with a pack of animals. There is no place for the weak and flawed in a flock; they are the weak link, because of which the entire society can suffer. Therefore, the weak cause hostility and aggression, they are expelled from the pack, or even killed.

Of course, society is not a pack of wolves or monkeys, but ancient behavioral mechanisms make themselves felt, especially among people who tend to follow animal instincts rather than social norms. Unfortunately, the saying is true here: “If there are victims, then there will be rapists.” True, the provoking behavior of victims manifests itself in different ways and it is not always possible to immediately recognize it.

Two types of victimization behavior

The difference in the behavior of victims is due to their psychological characteristics. Among people prone to victimized behavior, there are not only potential victims, but also potential rapists, who in another situation would willingly demonstrate aggression and cruelty. Therefore, two types of victim behavior can be distinguished, which differ significantly.

  • Comfortable (conciliatory) behavior of people who readily accept the role of a victim, expecting violence, insults, and deception against themselves. These people are timid, prone to submission, often idolizing the rapist next to them, because they see in him a strong personality, capable of actions that are inaccessible to the victim. Such “victims” are characterized by low self-esteem and confidence in their own worthlessness and failure. And at the same time, they are characterized by a feeling of permanent resentment towards the whole world; they love to complain, demonstrating their status as a “victim”.
  • Emotionally unstable, demonstrative and defiant behavior. This type of victim behavior often manifests itself in the aggressiveness of the “victim” himself and in a tendency to provocation. This is typical, for example, for adolescents and people suffering from infantilism. People with this type of behavior usually like to bully those who are weaker and often try on the role of rapists and criminals. The tendency to cruelty and suppression of the weak makes such actions common in the eyes of these individuals, and in a situation where the rapist is faced with a stronger person, he himself takes the role of the victim. They say about such people: “A daredevil is among sheep, but before a daredevil there is a sheep.”

It happens that strong, self-confident individuals with a heightened sense of responsibility find themselves in the role of victim. Sometimes circumstances are such that these people consciously make sacrifices in order to defend their principles, protect loved ones, their country, etc. But despite many signs of victimized behavior, such sacrifice does not apply to them. Most often it is objectively justified.

Victimization is... in pedagogy

By the way, according to pedagogical theories, there are several age stages at which the risk of developing victimization is increased. There are 6 of them in total:

1) The period of intrauterine development, when the influence is exerted through parents and their incorrect lifestyle.

2) Preschool period. Ignoring parents' need for love, misunderstanding of peers.

3) Junior school period. Excessive care or, conversely, its absence on the part of parents, the development of various defects, rejection by teachers or peers.

4) Adolescence. Drunkenness, smoking, drug addiction, molestation, influence of criminal groups.

5) Early youth. Unwanted pregnancy, attribution of non-existent defects, alcoholism, failures in relationships, bullying by peers.

6) Youth. Poverty, alcoholism, unemployment, failures in relationships, inability to further study.

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