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Discussion: The Purpose of Theory

To prepare:
  • Choose one of the following theories to address. Routine activity
    • Deviant place
    • Lifestyle
    • Victim participation
By Day 3

Post a response to the following:

  • Which victimization theory best explains the primary reason for victimization in the city, state, or nation in which you live? Why?
  • How can you apply concepts from this theory to protect yourself from being victimized?
  • How can law enforcement application of these theories assist with the decrease of violent victimization?   

References MUST come from:

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  1. The attached article- Jones, J.R. (2017). Explaining Victimization. In Primary theories of crime and victimization (2nd ed.) (pp.216-238). Bloomington, IN: Xlibris
  2. Karmen, A. (2020). Crime victims: An introduction to victimology (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Chapter 2, “The Rediscovery of Crime Victims” (pp. 41–79) 

  1. And 1 other reference of your choice

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Chapter 15

Explaining Victimization

While criminological theories attempt to explain why crimes occur, victimization theories focus on the role of victims when crimes transpire. Victimolgists are criminologists that study victims of crime. In addition, they also examine the cost of victimization on society. Victimization’s toll on society includes economic loss, blaming of the victim, long-term stress, fear, and engaging in antisocial behaviors.

Economic loss is comprised of two types. Those types are system loss and personal loss. System loss is the amount of money the government spends on things such as treatment for victims, as well as the cost of the criminal justice process due to the offense. Personal loss refers to the cost suffered specifically by the victim, which can include loss of income, deductibles, etc. Personal loss can be both short-term and long-term.

Blaming the victim often occurs after one is victimized. Statements by friends and family on the victim’s attire, location and time of their presence, and/or the type of company the victim entertains are frequently made to confirm the reason for the victimization. The aforementioned is particularly true for victims of sexual assaults. Due to blaming, it is extremely difficult for those who have been raped to come forward and report their assault. Victims of rape often have a feeling of being victimized multiple times because they are forced to relive the horrible incident when telling the accounts to the police and then again in court while being aggressively questioned.

Long-term stress often presents as post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological reaction to

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a highly stressful event; symptoms may include depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and recurring nightmares (Siegel, 2015). Many associate PTSD with the military and war. While PTSD does occur as a result of combat, symptoms of PTSD can also start due to other traumatic events such as being a victim of an armed robbery, a rape, a physical assault, a home invasion, a kidnapping, etc.

Fear often results in victims changing their routines as a result of fear of repeat victimization. People that experience a violent victimization often experience the greatest level of fear as it relates to being victimized again. This frequently leads to them becoming horrified of being a victim of other crimes that have not occurred.

People that have been victimized (especially youth) have a higher probability of engaging in antisocial behaviors. Youth that are victims of sexual assaults who do not receive counseling often victimize other kids. Also, youth that are physically abused or subjected to a significant amount of physical punishment such as spankings are more likely to engage in physical violence. Research suggests that the aforementioned occurs because the juvenile learns to resolve conflict via physical means.

Victimization and Environment

The National Crime Victimization Survey shows that violent offenses are more prevalent during the day or evening between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. in community areas such as parks, streets, or fields than in a residence during the morning. Violent offenses such as rape and first-degree assault often happen after 6:00 p.m. Violent crimes and thefts occur at higher rates in the inner city than in the suburbs. Victimization in rural areas occurs less than half of those that reside in cities.

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Victim Characteristics

Males are more likely to be victims of violent crimes and robberies than are their female counterparts. However, women have a much- greater probability of being a victim of rape or sexual assault than are men. As it relates to age, victimization significantly decreases after the age of twenty-five. This is because marriage tends to increase after the age of twenty-five and, as a result, people that were once single and frequenting places such as bars now remain home at higher rates.

Poor people are victims of violent crimes more than the middle and upper class. Due to socioeconomic challenges, African Americans are disproportionately represented in this category of victimization. As a result of economic challenges, minorities live in urban areas that are troubled with narcotics, poverty, and gangs.

Victimization Theories

There are four theories of victimization that attempt to explain the victim’s role when crimes occur. The four theories are victim participation theory, lifestyle theory, deviant place theory, and routine activities theory. Each of theory provides unique insight to the understanding of how and sometimes why people become victims.

Victim Participation Theory

Victim participation theory is the idea that victims may be responsible for the engagement that leads to the victimization through either active or passive actions. The behaviors can sometimes include the presence of a substance such as alcohol or a narcotic that places

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the victim in an inebriated state that results in belligerent behavior, which leads to someone physically assaulting them. Thus, while the assault was against the law and the norms of society, the victim instigated it via their participation in verbally aggressive behaviors.

Lifestyle Theory

Lifestyle theory contends that people become victims due to certain lifestyles that require their interaction with criminals and the criminal subculture. An example of lifestyle participation theory would be someone that voluntarily works in the drug trade or becomes a member of a gang. Each of the aforementioned lifestyles uses violence as a means of control and is often subjected to the same violent acts. As a result, the probability of being a victim of a violent crime such as an assault or homicide is high.

Deviant Place Theory

Deviant place theory argues that victimization occurs as a result of the location in which one resides. This is often used to explain the victimization of those that reside in high-crime areas such as urban and inner-city neighborhoods. Violent crime and thefts are higher in central city areas than suburban areas. As a result, citizens that live in city and urban areas are more likely to experience victimization such as theft. Offenses such as robbery and theft are more prevalent in inner cities than suburban areas due to income inequality and poverty.

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Routine Activities Theory

Routine activities theory was coined by Lawrence E. Cohen and Marcus Felson in 1979. It is the view that victimization results from the interaction of three everyday factors: (1) motivated offender, (2) suitable target, and (3) absence of a capable guardian (Cohen & Felson, 1979). If the aforementioned factors are present together, a crime and a victimization will occur. However, if one of the factors is absent, a crime or victimization will not occur. It should be noted that a capable guardian does not have to be a person. A capable guardian can be anything that is designed to act as a security measure to prevent a crime from occurring. An example of a capable guardian that is not a person is a car alarm or locks on a car.

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Critical Thinking Questions

1. What are some ways citizens can protect themselves from being victimized?

2. Which victimization theory do you believe explains the primary reason for victimization in the United States? Why?

3. What are some things you do to protect yourself from being victimized?

4. How can law enforcement assist with the decrease of violent victimization?

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Chapter Summary

• Victim participation theory is the idea that victims may be responsible for the engagement that leads to the victimization through either active or passive actions.

• Lifestyle theory contends that people become victims due to certain lifestyles that require their interaction with criminals and the criminal subculture.

• Deviant place theory argues that victimization occurs as a result of the location in which one resides.

• Routine activities theory is the interaction of three everyday factors: (1) motivated offender, (2) suitable target, and (3) absence of a capable guardian (Cohen & Felson, 1979).

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Research Perspective

This chapter focused on the role victims play in crimes. There are four primary theories of victimization. People are targets of victimization for different reasons. Review the study in this chapter titled “Rate at Which Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Citizens Are Victims of Physical Assaults due to Their Sexual Orientation.” This research examines the rate at which members of the LGBT community are victims of violent assaults due to their sexual orientation.

* * *

Rate At Which Lesbian, Gay, And Bisexual Citizens Are Victims Of Physical Assaults Due To Their Sexual Orientation

by James R. Jones, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the rate at which lesbian, gay, and bisexual US citizens are victims of physical assaults due to their sexual orientation. The research consisted of 198 participants. Closed-ended surveys were provided to the participants. The question for this study was “How many times have you been physically assaulted because of your sexual orientation?” An ordinal regression was conducted to determine the extent to which physical assaults were related to the outcome measured.

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INTRODUCTION

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court overturned the ban on same-sex marriages, thereby making it legal for same-sex couples to wed. Despite the recent victory for the LGBT community, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens continue to experience challenges in their daily life due to a significant number of citizens not accepting their lifestyle. Many of the challenges include discrimination and physical assaults. Prior to the 5–4 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and in response to assaults on certain groups of people, the United States created laws to protect people against crimes motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity / national origin (Department of Justice, 2004). While the aforementioned intentions were good, the laws have not worked as well as anticipated.

Presently, members of the LGBT community continue to be assaulted due to their sexual orientation. Like other crimes, hate crimes are recorded via the Uniform Crime Report (UCR). The UCR is the largest database, compiled by the FBI, of crimes reported and arrests made each year throughout the United States (Siegel, 2015). However, the UCR is only as accurate as what is reported. In many assaults, when the victim is lesbian, bisexual, gay, or transgender, the act is often not reported. As a result of the aforementioned, law enforcement is not aware of the assault, and it is never recorded on the Uniform Crime Report. This makes it difficult to address the problem of targeted assaults on members of the LGBT community. In addition, when attacks are recorded by the UCR, they are not categorized into victim demographics. The UCR does not take into account the rate at which different races, genders, and age groups are victims of

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violent assaults due to their sexual orientation. Also, the UCR does not identify or record the difference in victimization rates between someone who is gay versus someone that is bisexual. It is important to understand how often individuals of the LGBT community are being assaulted. The purpose of this research is to examine the rate at which members of the LGBT community are assaulted and to identify if there are differences among the rates of victimization as it relates to age, race, gender, and sexual orientation. The results from this study will assist in identifying information that is not recorded on the Uniform Crime Report and assist law enforcement personnel with addressing the problems of targeted attacks on members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Some lesbian, gay, and bisexual citizens of the United States have been forced to keep their sexual orientation a secret due to the fear of being physically assaulted. In instances when their sexual orientation has been discovered and an attack has occurred as a result, many do not notify law enforcement. Failure to inform law enforcement of targeted attacks results in inaccurate recording of hate crimes on the Uniform Crime Report. There have been many studies that examined the difference between the rate of victimization of heterosexual citizens and citizens that are members of the LGBT community.

Previous LGBT Victimization Studies

Balsam and Rothblum (2005) conducted a study on victimization over a life span. They compared victimization of lesbian, gay bisexual, and heterosexual siblings. The purpose of the research was

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to examine if there was a difference in the rate of victimization over the life span of the aforementioned sexual orientations.

The sample consisted of 557 gay/lesbian, 163 bisexual, and 525 heterosexual adults (Balsam & Rothblum, 2005). The research suggests that sexual orientation was a significant predictor of most of the victimization variables (Balsam & Rothblum, 2005). The research also contends that compared with heterosexual participants, LGB participants reported more childhood psychological and physical abuse by parents or caretakers, more childhood sexual abuse, more partner psychological and physical victimization in adulthood, and more sexual assault experiences in adulthood (Balsam & Rothblum, 2005).

Unlike Balsam and Rothblum, Rothman, Exner, and Baughman (2011) examined the prevalence of sexual assault victimization among gay or bisexual (GB) men and lesbian or bisexual (LB) women in the United States. Their research included a larger-than-normal sample size. There were 139,635 participants in this study.

The results of the study suggest that lesbian or bisexual women were more likely to report childhood sexual assault, adult sexual assault, lifetime sexual assault victimization, and intimate partner sexual assault victimization than gay or bisexual men, whereas gay or bisexual men were more likely to report hate crime–related sexual assault than lesbian or bisexual women (Rothman et al., 2011). This study was unique because of the extremely large sample size, as well as its focus on sexual assaults on members of the LGBT community. Much of the current literature concentrates on physical assaults due to sexual orientation.

While the majority of studies on victimization due to sexual orientation focus on civilians, Burks’s (2011) research concentrates on the rate of victimization on members of the LGBT community that are

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enlisted in the military. One of the major challenges in this study was the underreporting of any type of assault due to sexual orientation. Among samples of LGB individuals, some who experienced sexual victimization also experienced negative consequences associated with reporting the incidents, such as being outed, as well as negative reactions by the individual’s social network (Todahl et al., 2009). It was for this reason that obtaining accurate data was difficult and, in some instances, impossible. Such experiences not only contribute to fears of reporting their victimization to law enforcement but may also contribute to the decision to not participate in research (Otis, 2007).

Due to the lack of compliance by participants to provide data that was applicable for the study, the researcher was only able to obtain minimal results. Burks (2011) found that in general, incidents of sexual assault and harassment in the military are reported by women at rates disproportionate to those for men. A significant amount of resistance from participants in the study can be directly attributed to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy created by the George W. Bush administration.

Many studies conducted on victimization due to sexual orientation examined adults. However, D’Augelli (2003) studied victimization experiences of lesbian and gay youth ages fourteen to twenty-one. The purpose of the study was to analyze developmental challenges and victimization experiences of female youth.

The results of the research found that half of the participants experienced repetitive verbal abuse, 12 percent reported several threats, and 7 percent had been assaulted multiple times (D’Augelli, 2003). The study also revealed that youth who had self-identified as lesbian or bisexual or had told others of their sexual orientation reported more lifetime sexual orientation victimization (D’Augelli, 2003). This study provides clear insight on the victimization of youth that identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. This research assisted in

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bridging the gap between what was discovered in adult research and what was unknown as it related to juveniles who are members of the LGBT community. However, due to the length of time since the research was conducted, generalizing the results to current youth may be challenging.

Summary

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual citizens have often been the target of violent assaults in the United States due to their sexual orientations. Many studies have been conducted to examine if there is a correlation between certain variables and physical assault. However, much of the research does not examine the rate at which members of the LGBT community are assaulted and fail to identify if there are differences among the rates of victimization as it relates to age, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

METHODOLOGY

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this research is to examine the rate at which members of the LGBT community are assaulted and to identify if there are differences among the rates of victimization as it relates to age, race, gender, and sexual orientation. While many studies in the past have analyzed the difference between the rates of victimization of heterosexual citizens and members of the LGBT community, much of the research leaves a gap between comparative victimization rates among age, race, gender, and sexual orientation. This study will bridge the gap in the literature and contribute to the current body

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of knowledge, providing criminal justice professionals and policy makers the ability to address the problems of targeted attacks on members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

Target Population and Participant Selection

The target population of this study consisted of American citizens that were eighteen years of age or older and identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. From this population, 198 participants made up the sample size for this research. All races and genders were eligible to participate.

Sampling Procedure

Snowball sampling was used for this study. This sampling technique was adopted because of the difficulty obtaining trust from members of the LGBT community. Due to past negative interactions between the aforementioned group and people that do not support their lifestyle, lesbian, gay, and bisexual citizens were not comfortable providing information on their experiences due to their sexual orientation. As a result, the only way to obtain participants for this research was through snowball sampling. Snowball sampling begins by identifying a single subject of a small number of subjects and then asking the subject(s) to identify others like him or her who might be willing to participate in a study (Maxfield & Babbie, 2011).

Data Collection Procedures

Closed-ended surveys were provided to the participants. Each survey was administered electronically and consisted of five closed-ended questions. All the responses of the participants

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were confidential. Information received from the survey was the participant’s race (coded as 1 for white and 2 for nonwhite), age (coded as 1 for eighteen to twenty-four, 2 for twenty-five to thirty- four, 3 for thirty-five to forty-four, and 4 for forty-five to fifty-four), gender (coded as 1 for male and 2 for female), sexual orientation (coded as 1 for gay and 2 for bisexual), and number of assaults due to sexual orientation (coded as 1 for never, 2 for one time, 3 for two times, and 4 for three or more times).

Data Analysis

The question created for this study was “How many times have you been physically assaulted because of your sexual orientation?” In the study, the independent variables were race, age, gender, and sexual orientation. The dependent variable was rate of physical assault. An ordinal regression was conducted to determine the extent to which physical assaults were related to the outcome measured.

RESULTS

Description of Sample

The final sample consisted of 198 participants. As shown in table 1, the majority of the sample was female (62.1 percent) and white (67.7 percent). Due to the unequal distribution among racial categories, race was coded into white and nonwhite for the analysis. The largest percentage of participants was eighteen to twenty-four years of age (40.4 percent). The majority of the sample did not identify as bisexual (identified as gay or lesbian [62.6 percent]) and reported never having been assaulted because of sexual orientation (60.1 percent).

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Table 1

Frequencies and Percentages of Gender, Race, Age, Bisexual Orientation, and Assault Rate

n %

Gender

Female 123 62.1

Male 75 37.9

Race

White 134 67.7

Nonwhite 64 32.3

Age

18–24 80 40.4

25–34 66 33.3

35–44 18 9.1

45–54 34 17.2

Do you identify yourself as bisexual?

Yes 74 37.4

No 124 62.6

How many times have you been physically assaulted because of your sexual orientation?

Never 119 60.1

1 time 14 7.1

2 times 22 11.1 3 times or more 43 21.7

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Assault Rate

Although the overall model was not significant (p = .181), being bisexual significantly predicted assault rate. Age was also a significant predictor. In order to determine whether bisexual orientation significantly predicted assault rate, an ordinal regression was conducted on assault rate using bisexual orientation, gender, race, and age as dummy-coded predictors in the model (see table 2). Because of the positively skewed distribution of assault rate, the complementary log-log link was used in the model (Agresti, 2002). Although the overall model was not significant, χ2 (6) = 8.86, p = .181, Nagelkerke R2 = .050, bisexual orientation was a significant predictor in the model (B = .532, p < .001). Given all predictors in the model, the proportion of individuals identifying as bisexual who were more likely to be the victims of assault (at any rate of assault) was equal to the proportion of individuals identifying as nonbisexual raised to the 𝑒0.532 = 1.702 power. These results indicated that as likelihood of being assaulted increased for individuals identifying as nonbisexual, the chances of being assaulted increased at a greater rate for individuals identifying as bisexual. For example, if individuals identifying as nonbisexual were 50 percent likely to experience higher levels of assault, then individuals identifying as bisexual were 30.7 percent more likely to experience higher levels of assault than were individuals identifying as nonbisexual. Age was also a significant predictor in the model. Given all predictors in the model, as the likelihood of being assaulted increased from eighteen- year-olds to twenty-four-year-olds, the chances of being assaulted increased at a greater rate from thirty-five-year-olds to forty-four- year-olds (B = .947, p < .001). For example, if eighteen-year-olds to twenty-four-year-olds were 50 percent likely to experience higher

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levels of assault, then thirty-five-year-olds to forty-four-year-olds were 16.7 percent more likely to experience higher levels of assault than were eighteen-year-olds to twenty-four-year-olds. Gender and race were not significant predictors in the model, ps > .05.

Table 2

Summary of Ordinal Regression Predicting Assault Rate from Bisexual Orientation, Gender, Race, and Age

95% CI Predictor B SE Wald LL UL p

Bisexuala .532 .26 4.36 .033 1.032 .037

Femaleb -.074 .24 .10 -.543 .395 .758

Whitec .297 .26 1.28 -.217 .811 .257

25 to 34 yearsd .250 .29 .77 -.309 .808 .381

35 to 44 yearsd .947 .38 6.23 .203 1.691 .013

45 years or olderd .363 .36 1.04 -.336 1.063 .309

Note. χ2 (6) = 8.86, p = .181, Nagelkerke R2 = .050. aCompared to nonbisexual. bCompared to male. cCompared to nonwhite. dCompared to eighteen to twenty-four years.

DISCUSSIONS

While the research suggests that the majority of Americans that identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual were never victims of physical assaults due to their sexual orientation (60.1 percent), there is still a cause for concern as the study recorded 39.9 percent that have been victims of a physical assault at least one time in their lives due to their sexual orientation. For those that were assaulted due to being

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lesbian, gay, or bisexual, they were often victimized three or more times (21.7 percent). The study also indicates that bisexual citizens experience physical assaults at greater rates than gay citizens. Finally, the research also identified age as a predictor of physical assaults. Lesbians, gays, and bisexuals of both genders, ages thirty-five to forty-four, were at greater risk of being victims of a physical assault.

Recommendation for Future Research

The research identified at what rate members of the LGBT community are victims of physical assaults due to their sexual orientation. However, it did not examine physical appearance as a predictor of violence. The survey provided to the participants did not inquire about men and women whose appearance, presentation, and/or mannerisms were gender nonconforming (K. Daly, personal communication, July 3, 2015). As a result, it was impossible to identify if a physical attack was based on a more visible issue of gender presentation and gender nonconformity (which is a largely publicly accessible and visual apparent), as opposed to sexual orientation, which may be assumed by some attackers but is less readily quantified by an attacker and less readily confirmed by him or her as well (K. Daly, personal communication, July 3, 2015).

CONCLUSION

The United States recently legalized same-sex marriage (June 26, 2015) for all the states in America. The aforementioned action by the US Supreme Court shows evidence of the country moving more toward equality. However, while the government is beginning to recognize and enforce equality for all groups of people, individual

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citizens are not as supportive. Despite the majority of members of the LGBT community not being victims of physical assaults due to their sexual orientation per the results of this study, the rates at which those that are victimized still warrant monitoring. Nearly 40 percent of those that identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual experience being physically assaulted due to their sexual orientation. While not the majority, the number is still alarming. It is important for US lawmakers and law enforcement officials to recognize the rate of assaults occurring due to sexual orientation and construct methods to have them significantly decreased.

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