What is secondary victimization?
Secondary victimization is the re-traumatization of the sexual assault, abuse or rape victim. It is an indirect result of assault which occurs through the responses of individuals and institutions to the victim. The types of secondary victimization include victim blaming, inappropriate behavior or language by medical personel and by other organizations with access to the victim post assault. (Campbell et. al., 1999)
Information about secondary victimization
"After the trauma of a crime, many report being victimized by the very systems that were designed to help them. The media, health services and criminal justice system can respond to victims of crime in ways that make them feel traumatized again. A counselor can help to reduce the chances of secondary victimization by helping victims to understand their rights. "
"Victims not only have to struggle with primary injuries in the aftermath of the crime, but they must also battle with the "secondary" injuries. Secondary injuries are injuries that occur when there is a lack of proper support. These injuries can be caused by friends, family and most often by the professionals victims encounter as a result of the crime. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, social service workers, the media, coroners, clergy, and even mental health professionals can cause secondary injuries. Those individuals may lack the ability or training to provide the necessary comfort and assistance to the victim. Often, those individuals blame the victim for the crime. Failing to recognize the importance of the crime or to show sympathy can be damaging to the victim's self-worth and recovery process.
Perhaps the most agonizing experience
for victims involves dealing with the criminal justice system if and when
an offender is apprehended. At this level, the crime is considered to
have been committed against the state, and victims become witnesses to
Victims and the Media*
"Rape, and in particular acquaintance rape, has become something of a human interest story-of-choice for mainstream newspaper editors recently. But more coverage has usually not meant better."
Winkel, F., (1991) Rape victims' style of self-presentation and secondary victimization by environment : an experiment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 6(1):29-40. Find this journal title in a library
"Rape victims differ in their style of communicating their experience to others in their environment. The present experiment tests the hypothesis that a numbed style of self-presentation, as compared an emotional one, will result more strongly in secondary victimization by those around her."
Campbell R, Raja S. (1999) Secondary victimization of rape victims: insights from mental health professionals who treat survivors of violence. Violence Vict. 14(3):261-75. Link Find this journal title in a library
"Rape victims may turn to the legal, medical, and mental health systems for assistance, but there is a growing body of literature indicating that many survivors are denied help by these agencies. What help victims do receive often leaves them feeling revictimized. These negative experiences have been termed "the second rape" or "secondary victimization." If indeed secondary victimization occurs, then these issues may be raised in rape survivors' mental health treatment. In the current study, probability sampling was used to survey a representative sample of licensed mental health professionals about the extent to which they believe rape victims are "re-raped" in their interactions with social system personnel. Most therapists believed that some community professionals engage in harmful behaviors that are detrimental to rape survivors' psychological well-being. Implications for future research on secondary victimization are discussed."
Author Hattendorf, J., & Tollerud, T.R. (1997). Domestic Violence: Counseling Strategies That Minimize the Impact of Secondary Victimization. Journal Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 33(1), 14-23. Find this journal title in a library
"This paper reviews developmental factors associated with domestic violence, describes the processes of secondary victimization and traumatic response, and discusses the implications for intervening appropriately with battered women."
Golding, Jacqueline M.; Siegel, Judith M.; Sorenson, Susan B.; Burnam, M. Audrey; Stein, Judith A. (1989). Social Support Sources Following Sexual Assault. Journal of Community Psychology. 17 (1). p92-107, 16p. Find this journal title in a library
Considerable research suggests that social support plays a crucial rote in coping with stressful life events. The present study used data from 3,132 randomly selected survey respondents to investigate the use and helpfulness of seven potential social support sources in coping with a particular life crisis: sexual assault. About two-thirds or the 447 sexually assaulted respondents had told someone about the assault. Over half had talked to a friend or relative (59.3%). Fewer respondents consulted police (10.5%), mental health professionals (16.1%), physicians (9.3%), clergy (3.9%), rape crisis centers (1.9%), and legal professionals (1.6%). Assault by a stranger, physical threat, fighting against the assailant, a high degree of sexual contact, and emotional distress concerning the assault were associated with talking about the assault, especially with police and physicians. Most of those who told someone found at least one person helpful (13.8%). Rape crisis centers (94.2%) and legal professionals (82.7%) were most frequently described as helpful, followed by mental health professionals (70.1 %), friends and relatives (66.6%). clergy (63.1%), physicians (55.6%). and police (38.2%). Results are compared to previous findings, and implications for research and intervention are discussed.
Rape Survivors' Experiences With the Legal and Medical Systems. By: Campbell, Rebecca. Violence Against Women, Jan2006, Vol. 12 Issue 1, p30-45, 16p, 2 charts. link Find this journal title in a library
This study used a naturalistic
quasi-experimental design to examine whether rape survivors who had the
assistance of rape victim advocates had more positive experiences with
the legal and medical systems compared to those who did not work with
advocates. Eighty-one survivors were interviewed in two urban hospitals
about what services they received from legal and medical system personnel
and how they were treated during these interactions. Survivors who had
the assistance of an advocate were significantly more likely to have police
reports taken and were less likely to be treated negatively by police
officers. These women also reported less distress after their contact
with the legal system. Similarly, survivors who worked with an advocate
during their emergency department care received more medical services,
including emergency contraception and sexually transmitted disease prophylaxis,
reported significantly fewer negative interpersonal interactions with
medical system personnel, and reported less distress from their medical
Madigan, L. and Gamble, N. (1991). The Second Rape: Society's Continued Betrayal of the Victim. New York: Lexington Books. Find this in a library
Websdale, N. (1998). Indigenous archaeology: American Rural woman battering and the justice system. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications. Find this in a library
Resources to research this subject:
Search terms: revictimization, secondary victimization, Psychic trauma--Social aspects--Handbooks, manuals, Post-traumatic stress disorder--Handbooks, manuals,
Campbell R, Raja S. (1999) Secondary victimization of rape victims: insights from mental health professionals who treat survivors of violence. Violence Vict. 14(3):261-75
Binder, Charles J.. (2005). Sexual Assault: The Victims, the Perpetrators, and the Criminal Justice System. Corrections Today. 67 (7). p110-110. Review of a book of the same name.
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