No one likes to be a victim. Being a victim of a crime can strip you of your dignity. It can override your confidence in yourself and humanity. And in some cases, it can destroy your life. A person who has experienced any physical, sexual, financial, or emotional harm resulting from a crime has been victimized. And when someone is victimized, it can affect the entire family. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of victimization and examine a few cases of people who have been victimized in various ways.
Types and Examples of Victimization
Here are 28 different types of victimization as categorized by the Office for Victims of Crime Performance Measure Dictionary and Terminology Resource. We have also included 5 illustrative examples of victimization.
1. Adult Physical Assault (including aggravated and simple assault)
- Aggravated Assault: an unlawful attack by one person on another which inflicts severe bodily injury. In most cases, a weapon is involved, and the intent is to do grave bodily harm or death.
- Simple Assault: Assaults where no weapon was used, and there is no serious or aggravated injury. Could include intimidation, coercion, and school hazing activities.
2. Adult Sexual Assault
This can include a wide variety of crimes that involve assaults or attempted assaults of unwanted sexual contact between a perpetrator and the victim. There could be force or even coercion, including things like grabbing, fondling, and even verbal threats. Included in sexual assault is rape, and can involve penetration with foreign objects.
3: Adult Sexually Abused/Assaulted as Children
Adults who were sexually abused while they were children.
Arson involves any willful burning or attempts to burn a house, public building, car or airplane, or any type of personal property of another. This can be with or without intent to defraud.
5: Bullying (Cyber, Physical, or Verbal)
There are many different types of bullying. The main condition that makes a behavior considered bullying is the imbalance of power.
Any type of verbal or physical harassment between one or a group of kids against another where the behavior is repeated over a period of time is considered bullying behavior. Examples are hitting, kicking, punching, shoving, teasing, and taunting. It is also considered bullying behavior when a person or group purposely excludes or isolates the person against others.
Example of Victimization #1: Cyberbullying – Jaylen
Jaylen endured 10 months of cyberbullying of a different kind. This cyberbullying was done by one person – a hacker who was able to not only hack into his social media accounts but also his online school accounts, Netflix, and even his PlayStation.
When his mother first reported the cyberbullying to school officials and then to the police and her internet service provider, no one could stop the attacks. In an attempt to stop the attacks from his online learning, the school deleted the account, and he started doing all his work on paper. But even that didn’t stop the hacker, who was somehow able to make a series of 911 calls look like they came from Jaylen’s home phone. The police said they were unable to handle tracing fake calls like that.
The cyberbully even hacked into Jaylen’s PlayStation account and destroyed all his games. Next, he hacked the family’s Netflix account, and while the family was watching a movie, a message suddenly popped up on the screen.
“If you promise to kill yourself, I’ll stop.”
Eventually, Jaylen began to feel like the best thing to do for his family would be to kill himself. It seemed that no one could do anything to catch and stop the hacker. Then one day, they received their last messages, and everything stopped.
“I won’t hack you anymore. My mom caught me hacking you.”
Then the following message read:
“She told me to apologize. I’m sorry for hacking you.”
Finally, it ended with this:
“Imma gonna disconnect from your stuff.”
That was it. They never heard from the cyberbully again. And they never discovered who it was.
Jaylen’s mom wishes they would find the person so they can be held accountable for what they did to her son, who still struggles to make friends and trust people again.
Burglary is the unlawful entry of another person’s structure or business with the intent to steal. The FBI has a Uniform Crime Reporting Program that includes three subclassifications to burglary.
- Forcible entry
- Unlawful entry where no force is used
- Attempted forceable entry
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, a structure includes an apartment, barn, house trailer, and houseboat –– if used as a permanent residence –– office, railroad car, stable, and a vessel. They do not include a car as a structure.
7: Child Physical Abuse or Neglect
Child physical abuse includes any type of nonaccidental physical injury due to punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other objects), burning, or any other type of harm done to a child by a parent, caregiver, or another person. These behaviors are considered abuse, even if that wasn’t the original intention. It is not considered abuse to spank or paddle a child as long as it doesn’t cause bodily injury.
8: Child Pornography
Any type of visual impression of sexually explicit conduct, including photographs, film, video, a picture or drawing, or computer-generated image that is produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means where any of these four things are present:
- It depicts a minor involved in a sexually explicit act.
- The visual depiction is or appears to be of a minor engaging in a sexually explicit act.
- The visual has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in a sexually explicit act.
- It is advertised, distributed, or prompted in a way that conveys it is a minor engaging in a sexually explicit act.
9: Child Sexual Abuse/Assault
This type of victimization can include fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution by a parent, caregiver, or another person. This also applies to teen sexual assault.
10: Domestic and/or Family Violence
This type of victimization involves past or present members of a familial household or intimate relations between the victim and offender. It can include a spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, and any family members or people that reside together in the same home. With domestic violence, there is a pattern of abusive behavior that includes physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats in order to gain control and power over another individual.
Example of Victimization #2: Domestic Violence: Shelley
Shelley was 23 when she started dating a man named Alex. They both worked for a publishing company that supported victims of domestic violence. Shelley was happy until she found out that Alex was already married. However, she believed him when he told her that he and his wife were working on getting a divorce.
The first red flag went up when she accompanied Alex to court when his wife issued an order of protection. The proceedings were about a cell phone, and Shelley didn’t fully comprehend what it was about. She assumed it had to do with the divorce. Alex’s wife told the judge he had been tracking her whereabouts through the phone, but Alex made up an excuse to Shelley, so she didn’t catch the red flag.
Slowly things started to change. Alex had divorced his wife, and he and Shelley spent all their time together. At first, he started getting jealous and didn’t want her to spend time with friends. He became very demanding of her time at work and insisted all text messages be replied to immediately. He also started asking and demanding that she send him nude photos of her. If she didn’t comply, he would fight with her incessantly, and the psychological and emotional abuse, as well as sexual coercion, got out of control.
One day when she tried to deny him his requests, she opened up an email at work and saw it was also addressed to her boss’ email. It contained several copies of the nude photos she sent him. Shelley wanted to die.
Things didn’t really get physical, but one day after she hung up on him in the middle of a fight, he threatened to drive to her niece’s preschool and slit her throat.
The problem here is that not once did Shelley realize she was a victim of domestic violence. She never considered that what she was going through was abuse. She kept trying to leave him, but he kept threatening to kill himself. However, one day she got up enough courage to leave him for good. She considers herself one of the lucky ones.
11: DUI/DWI Incidents
DUI stands for driving under the influence, and DWI stands for driving while impaired. This includes operating a motor vehicle or a common carrier while mentally or physically impaired due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or narcotics.
Related: When Should You Hire a Lawyer for a DUI?
12: Elder Abuse or Neglect (Physical or Emotional)
Any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a family member or caregiver, or trusted friend that causes harm or serious risk to an older person is considered elder abuse. It can be physical and emotional –– including threats, sexual, negligence, abandonment, and financial exploitation. The general definition can vary from state to state. It can also include fraud, scams, or financial crimes that target the elderly.
13: Gang Violence
Gang violence is any violence that is sustained by a gang. A gang is defined as:
- an association of three or more individuals;
- whose members collectively identify themselves by adopting a group identity, which they use to create an environment of fear and intimidation, usually by adopting one or more of the following: a common name, a slogan, a sign that identifies them, a symbol, a tattoo or other physical marking, style or color of clothing, hairstyle, hand signal or graffiti;
- the association’s purpose is to engage in criminal activity, and they use violence or intimidation to further their criminal objectives.
14: Hate Crime
A crime against a person or personal property where the primary motivation for the crime is based on the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation is considered a hate crime.
Murder and voluntary manslaughter with the intent to kill is homicide.
16: Human Trafficking (Labor)
Obtaining a person through recruitment, harboring, transportation, or provision for the purpose of forcing them to involuntary servitude is human trafficking.
17: Human Trafficking (Sex)
Human sex trafficking is recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, or the person is persuaded to perform such acts is under 18 years of age.
18: Identity Theft/Fraud/Financial Crime
This is when someone wrongfully obtains another person’s personal information without their knowledge to commit theft or fraud.
19: Kidnapping (Noncustodial)
When a person illegally seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, abducts, or carries away a person and holds them for ransom.
20: Kidnapping (Custodial)
This occurs when one parent or guardian deliberately keeps the other parent from his or her legal right to custody or visitation of their child. The exact definition can vary from state to state.
Example of Victimization #3: Custodial Kidnapping – Abigail
At 42 years old, Abigail lived as a fugitive in Costa Rica with her eight-year-old son. She fled to this tropical paradise in 2018 in order to hide and protect her son from her estranged, abusive boyfriend, who was sexually abusing their son, and who the courts continued to allow to have unsupervised visits. It seems that Costa Rica is known for heavy child protective laws, and Abigail felt like she had no other recourse to protect her child.
Miller met her ex-boyfriend when she was just 15, and he was 17 years older than her. He was a famous British artist, and he seemed rather strange to her in his pursuits. She rebuffed his advances, but he continued for several years until, in her late 20s, she acquiesced. By then, he had a young daughter from a previous relationship. Abigail suspected that he was sexually abusing his daughter, but she assumed she was wrong since she had no prior experience with that sort of behavior. Then he started abusing her.
When Abigail found out she was pregnant, she was filled with dread. He was excited. So she moved in with him and lived in terror. He would often threaten to kill his daughter, and one time he grabbed Abigail’s computer, threw it across the room, and then twisted her wrist until it nearly broke. The night she went into labor, he forced himself on her, and then after she returned home from the hospital, he did the same thing again. Pushing her face into a pillow, he raped her.
When she witnessed him shaking their three-month-old baby, she knew she had to leave him, but she didn’t know how. She had no money, no supportive family, and no strength. She became increasingly frightened as his daughter, who had a lot of rage from her abuse, would often rage that she wanted her ex to kill her son.
Finally, Miller started storing money away for a time to get out. Her ex had started a new relationship, so when she eventually left, he didn’t fight –– at first. But when his relationship ended, he showed up again and wanted her to come back. When she refused, he filed for custody.
The courts wouldn’t let Abigail bring up the domestic abuse because she had no proof. There were no police reports, no hospital visits, something many domestic abuse survivors face. This was when her ex started sexually abusing her son.
At three years old, he began telling his mother about “the penis game” his dad made him play. But the authorities wouldn’t believe her or her son. Even though teachers and some of her son’s friend’s parents also reported his sexualized behavior, a court evaluator said it was just kids playing doctor. The courts let her retain custody, but they allowed her ex to have unsupervised visitation despite her son’s accounts of abuse. After three more years of fighting with the courts, she finally left.
As of this story, she has been living with her son in Costa Rica, where the country’s child services are keeping them both safe. Yet, at the same time, if she ever returns home to the United States, she will be arrested for kidnapping.
21: Mass Violence (Domestic/International)
A criminal act that was intended to cause physical, emotional, or psychological injury to a sufficiently large number of people with the purpose of increasing the burden of victim assistance for the responding jurisdiction is considered mass violence victimization.
22: Other Vehicular Victimization
Vehicular crimes such as a hit-and-run that does not include DUI or DWI are categorized under Other Vehicular Victimization.
Taking, or trying to take, anything of value from a person by force or threat of violence, including carjacking.
A crime is considered stalking or harassment if it is experienced at least on two separate occasions, the person being stalked feared for their safety or that of a family member, and it includes at least one of the following behaviors.
- Unwanted phone calls
- Sending unsolicited emails or letters
- Showing up at places without a legitimate reason
- Waiting at certain places for the victim
- Leaving unwanted items
- Posting information or spreading rumors about the victim online, in public, or by word of mouth.
25: Survivors of Homicide Victims
This refers to any surviving victim of murder or voluntary manslaughter.
Example of Victimization #4: Survivors of Homicide Victims: Jessi
Jessi Toronjo was a nine-year-old girl who had lost her father when she was just five years old. When her parents were married, she had two other siblings, Janel and Jolene. Then her mother remarried a minister, and she gained an older stepbrother, Jeff, and an older stepsister, Jacque.
One weekend Jessi spent the weekend at a friend’s house. Jeff planned to attend his prom, and Jacque was away at a church camp. Yet when Jessi arrived back home in time to go to church, which was on the same property as their parsonage, she saw a lot of people and police in the parking lot and yellow crime tape around the home.
Inside the home, her mother, sisters, and stepfather had all been murdered while she was away at a sleepover. Her life as she knew it completely came to an end.
After living with her grandfather for a time and then fostercare, she eventually got her life together. She bought a home with the inheritance money and started a family. But they still didn’t know who murdered her family until 13 years later, when two detectives showed up at her door.
It turns out that the night of the prom, Jeff had been grounded for burglarizing a home weeks earlier. He was not allowed to go to the prom without his dad driving him, and he was not allowed to go to dinner before the prom. He also was grounded from going out after the prom. The thought of this type of humiliation crushed Jeff.
After 13 long years, they finally had the answers. Jeff was sentenced to 160 years in prison for the murders of his father and two step-siblings. The motive? He was angry because he wasn’t allowed to drive himself to the prom.
26: Teen Dating Victimization
This occurs when there is physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence between teenagers who are dating. This can also include stalking and can happen in person or electronically.
Example of Victimization #5: Teen Dating Victimization: Kristin
Kristen Rambler first started dating a new boyfriend when she was a senior in high school. He began the relationship overwhelming her with gifts and declarations of love. Yet things didn’t remain this way.
At a high school graduation party, he pushed her for the first time. Then, when they were in college, he beat her so badly she had bruises all over her body, and he spent the night in jail. The abuse continued on and off until Rambler finally had enough and broke off the relationship. However, the next day her ex-boyfriend went to her parent’s home with a gun and shot a male friend of Ramblers who was trying to help her escape. He then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
27: Terrorism (Domestic/International)
Terrorism refers to any activity that involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life that is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any State, or would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any State and appears to have the purpose of:
- intimidating or coercing a civilian population;
- influencing the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion;
- affecting the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping.
When any of the above criteria happens outside the United States, it is considered international terrorism.
Crimes not covered in any of the above examples get reported as “Other.” They can include things such as false imprisonment, destruction of property, vandalism, violation of a court order such as a temporary restraining order or order of protection, and any other type of victimization that doesn’t necessarily fall under any of the above documented types.
Alexandra Christensen is a freelance writer and editor. When she is not working on an assignment, she can be found hanging around with other writers on Medium.com/@alexandra_creates where she writes mostly about raising foster and adopted kids and those with invisible disabilities.