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Survivor Bashing as a Hate Crime



If someone verbally or physically harasses a rape victim or survivor (known as survivor bashing or the "second rape") it may be considered a hate crime or hate speech. For immediate victim assistance call 206-350-4283 or 1 800-879-6682 24 hours a day or fill out this online hate crime report form. This topic is related to the just world theory and victim blame.


"Last year the American Psychological Association issued the report

Hate Crimes Today:

An Age-Old Foe in Modern Dress. In the report Dr. Jack McDevitt, a criminologist, stated, "Hate crimes are message crimes. They are different from other crimes in that the offender is sending a message to members of a certain group that they are unwelcome. Preliminary research indicates that hate crimes have more serious psychological effects than non-bias motivated crimes."



The Oxford English Dictionary defines a hate crime as:

* Hate crime -orig. U.S., a crime, usually violent, motivated by hatred or intolerance of another social group, esp. on the basis of race or sexuality; crime of this type; freq. attrib. (occas. in pl.), designating legislation, etc., framed to address such crime.

* Hate speech -orig. U.S., speech expressing hatred or intolerance of other social groups, esp. on the basis of race or sexuality; hostile verbal abuse (though the term is sometimes understood to encompass written and non-verbal forms of expression).

The Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation states that "A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin."

The operational definition of Hate crimes by the HATE-CRIME NETWORK states:

"What makes a crime a hate crime?

The offender and the victim were of different race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and/or ethnicity/national origin..."


The invisibility of the rape survivor community and the general ignorance of the nature of rape trauma syndrome and PTSD contributes to the frequency of hate crimes and hate speech against rape survivors. The public's unfamiliarity with dissociation, dissociative identity disorder, self injury and other disabilities suffered by rape victims may be a contributing factor.


"Congress amended the Hate Crimes Statistics Act in 1994 to add disabilities as a category for which hate crimes data are to be collected. ...we know from social science research that the pervasive stigma that people apply to both mental and physical disability is expressed in many forms of discriminatory behaviors and practices, including increased risk for sexual and physical abuse. The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a national organization representing low-income adults and children with mental disabilities, holds that such hate crimes are motivated by the perception that people with disabilities are not equal, deserving, contributing members of society, and, therefore, it is okay to attack them." TX NAACP

Regarding disability bias hate crimes: "Of the 73 victims of this type of bias, 49 were the subjects of a bias against a mental disability."

Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation

In Hate Crimes and Disability in America "the findings and their implications for such issues as alternative manifestations of prejudice, underreporting of violent crimes, cross-disability support for hate crime prevention, rehabilitation counseling practice, and future research directions are discussed."

In Examining the Boundaries of Hate Crime Law: Disabilities and the "Dilemma of Difference" Grattet and Jenness find that "Persons with disabilities represent one of the largest minority groups in the United States. Recent research suggests that the multitude of ways that persons with disabilities are victimized is pronounced and increasing. However, social scientists and policymakers have largely overlooked persons with disabilities." (Grattet & Jenness 2001) Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology


"In addition to the other categories of hate crime, gender is increasingly being included as a status category in State and Federal hate crime laws. The current study explored how prosecutors view gender as a status category in hate crime law, specifically in terms of their knowledge of gender-bias violence and their willingness to charge violence against women as a hate crime... The authors recommend adopting an advocacy approach that supports the notion of violence against women as an issue of power and control while at the same time educates and encourages prosecutors and the public to adopt a hate crime perspective on violence against women. " (McPhail & DiNitto 2005) Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal


Engendering Hate Crime Policy: Gender, the "Dilemma of Difference," and the Creation of Legal Subjects by Valerie Jenness "discusses what feminist legal scholars refer to as "the dilemma of difference" that is inherent in hate-crime policy in the United States...

The author addresses how the dilemma of difference has been managed in the formulation of hate-crime policy in the United States, as it simultaneously addresses the ways in which gender is both distinct from and similar to other status provisions recognized in hate-crime law, i.e., race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc." (Jenness 2003) Journal of Hate Studies


For sexual assault survivors "these negative experiences have been termed "the second rape" ( Madigan & Gamble, 1991 ), "the second assault" ( Martin & Powell, 1994 ), or "secondary victimization" ( Campbell & Raja, 1999 ; Campbell et al., 1999 ; Williams, 1984 ). Campbell et al. ( 1999 ) found that victims of non-stranger rape (e.g., acquaintance rape and date rape) were at particular risk for secondary victimization, which was related to increased psychological distress and delayed recovery." Mental Health Services for Rape Survivors


Examples of survivor bashing also known as the "second rape":

The Second Rape

Survivor bashing reports


Non-profit Resources

Gay and lesbian anti violence project


Gay and lesbian anti violence project. Hotline:AVP's hotline at 212-714-1141. You can ask to speak with a male or female counselor, or Spanish- or English-speaking counselor.

Anti violence page -LAMBDA


Anti violence page -LAMBDA state by state laws against gender based discrimination.
LAMBDA's mission remains to bring about positive
social change by educating and enlightening the area's
diverse gay and non-gay population, both young and
old, about homo/bisexuality. LAMBDA is the region's
most respected, longest running such organization.

LAMBDA Gay/Lesbian 24-hour help line for violence
(including Domestic Violence)
(800) 616-HATE

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force


The victimization of gays and lesbians based upon their sexual orientation includes harassment, vandalism, robbery, assault, rape and murder. The location of these crimes is not restricted to dark streets leading from gay establishments. Violence against gays and lesbians occurs everywhere: in schools, the workplace, public places and in the home. Those who commit these acts come from all social/economic backgrounds and represent different age groups (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Safety and Fitness Exchange, Lance Bradley and Kevin Berrill, 1986.)

"Preventing the 'Second Rape': Rape Survivors' Experiences with Community Service Providers." Rebecca Campbell, Sharon M. Wasco, Courtney E. Ahrens, Tracy Sefl, Holly E. Barnes.

The Second Rape: Society's Continued Betrayal of the Rape Victim. (1991)

Resources to research this subject:

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Online Libraries on sexual assault

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Search terms: Hate crimes, Minorities ; Handicapped persons ; Discrimination ; Crimes against persons/ ; State laws ; Physically handicapped ; Mentally handicapped ; Socially handicapped ; Discrimination against disabld prsns; Filial violence ; Personal interviews ; Victims of violence ; Gender issues



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