Victimization:it is something just about everyone will experience this at least once in their life. However, for some, becoming a victim is traumatic and life altering. Some become victimized to the point that they contemplate hurting themselves or even committing suicide. Others actually turn their victimization in perpetration. Children and teenagers and extremely easy targets of victimization and as a parent it is your job to know what victimization is, see the signs in your child, and protect them from those trying to hurt them.
What Is Victimization?
There are many different meanings of victimization. However, when used as a blanket term, it refers to when a person becomes a victim and suffers from physical, psychological, emotional, and/or social consequences because of it. The definition for victimization according to the Webster Dictionary is: “to make a victim of;” “to commit a crime or act of violence against (someone).” It is the process of being hurt either physically or mentally by the acts of others.
What Is A Victim?
According to Webster’s Dictionary a victim is: “A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of crime, accident, or other event or action.” In simpler terms; a victim is someone who has been hurt in any way by any type of action.
Victimization is more common than you may think. In fact, The Bureau of Justice Statistics has done a National Crime Victimization survey, also known as NCV, annually since 1973. Each year approximately 160,000 different people of all ages are interviewed about victimization and their experiences. The people questioned represent a variety of races, ages, and ethnic backgrounds with varying experiences with being a victim. Some of the results may astound you:
- About 44% of students are victimized by their peers per year
- In 2013 there was a slight increase in victimization
- In 2012 the victimization of blacks rose while whites and Hispanics remained at similar levels
- In 2012 the amount of persons 12 and older who had experienced victimization rose 22. 6%
- 2010: Victimization dropped 13%
- 2009: An average of 135 people 12 and older were victimized –per 1,000 households.
- 2003: 24% of all criminal victimization was committed by an armed aggressor
- 2003: Black males identified as those most likely to be targets of criminal victimization
- 1999: Property crime rate fell 9% and violent crime declined by 10%
- 1994: Vehicle crime was the most reported crime with property crime being the least reported.
The full list of years and all the data collected can be found at the Bureau of Justice Statistics Website.
Signs of Victimization
Sadly, for many children, someone only realizes that they are being victimized when it is too late. You should keep up with your child and watch for strange behaviors that might be warning signs that they are a victim. Some things to look for include:
- Withdrawn Behavior
- Decrease in Appetite
- Refuses to Talk About School
- Decrease in Excitement or Commitment to Favorite Activities
- The Refusal to be Present With Certain Authority Figures
- Frequent Injuries
- Damage of Property
- Tries to Avoid School or Activities They Used To Enjoy
- Frequent Complaints of Headaches and Stomachaches
- Insufficient Sleep
What Can Happen If Someone is Victimized For Too Long?
Since the warning signs of victimization can be accidently contributed to something else, such as illness, some children never receive help. Of course, days, weeks, months, or even years of cruel violence against a person hurts them and opens them to bad choices and the consequences that follow. Children who do not receive proper help may be subject to:
- Social Anxiety
- Substance Abuse
- Feelings of Isolation or Abandonment
- Memory Problems
- Decision Anxiety
- Trust Issues
If your child is exhibiting ANY of these behaviors they should seek medical help and counseling right away. These issues follow people through life and can be difficult to cope with if not dealt with as immediately as possible.
Unlike real victims, people who have victim mentality are those who have a personality trait that makes them feel as if they are a victim. Anytime they are presented with a negative opinion or attitude they believe that they are being attacked or victimized, however, clear evidence points to the contrary. Those with victim mentality are sometimes called “aggressive” or “paranoid.” This is a learned personality trait which means that very few children are actually born with it, but they learn to identify as a victim because of something in their life. You can tell the difference between a victim and someone with victim mentality by the following:
- Those with victim mentality will blame others for a self-created situation
- Those with victim mentality will emotionally manipulate others to get their way
- Those with victim mentality will use more “I can’t” phrases
- Those with victim mentality will put themselves down often
People with this learned personality trait may also encounter problems such as:
- Low Self-Esteem
Although the people themselves are almost never to blame for their victim mentality it is important to distinguish between them and someone who is actually being victimized. Both kinds of people need help, but real victims may need it quicker than those with victim mentality.
Those who have become victims are going to experience many symptoms including:
- Loss of Appetite
- Chest Pains
- Heart Palpitations
However, all of these can be coped with. Some ways victims can cope at home are:
- Find a person who they trust to talk with; someone that will listen
- Keep A Journal
- Try To Establish A New Daily Routine
- Don’t Make Big Life Decisions Right After the Trauma
- Exercise; But Not Excessively
- Do Not Use Drugs or Alcohol
- Eat More Healthful Meals
- Spend More Time With People
Victimization According to The Law
Believe it or not, victimizing a person is against the law; especially the victimization of a minor. According to the Law Dictionary victimization is: “Unwarranted singly out of one person from a group and subjected to unfair treatment and other wrongs.” This means that your child is criminally victimized when they are bullied in person or online. They can also be victimized by teachers or authority figures that use public ridicule and fear tactics to force children to behave. Your child can eve be victimized in public by strangers who choose to comment on their appearance of actions; specifically talking to them and not to you as a parent. However, these circumstances should only become worrying if they happen frequently and seem to make your child unhappy.
When someone breaks the law and victimizes a child they are subject to the following punishments:
- Jail Time
- House Arrest
- Behavioral Classes
- Community Service
If you feel that your child has been victimized by someone and wish to press charges, contact a lawyer who can help you with legal advice for your location.
Victimization can happen to anyone at anytime. Many people experience crimes committed against their person or against their property and suffer form it. If you, someone you know, or your child has became a victim please seek help. Additional Resources:
- USA: National Organization for Victim Assistance (800-879-6682)
- United Kingdom: Equality and Human Rights Commission: www.equalityhumanrights.com
- Australia: Victim Support: www.victimsupport.org.au
- Germany: International Helpline Berlin: 030-44 01 06 07
- Russia: MiraMed: www.miramed.org
- Canada: National Center For Victims of Crime: www.victimsorcrime.org
- Japan: TELL: www.telljp.com
This is by no means a full list of hotlines or websites where you can seek help for yourself, a friend, or your child. Every country has its own national hotlines and websites to help with different forms of victimization. If your country was not listed here, a simple Google search should supply you with the information needed to find help. Never let anyone become a victim; seek help before it is too late.