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Measuring Victimhood: Developing a Victim Self-Ascription Scale
Unformatted Document Text:  DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ## be considered unjust. When all three criteria are met and an individual suffers a harmful event for which they were not responsible in violation of some standard of justice, a victimization may be said to have occurred. This tri-partite description of a victimization experience is derived from a variety of theoretical sources including literatures on victim advocacy, justice motivation and the 'social construction' of victimhood. These sources, while substantively, theoretically and methodologically relatively diverse, present a remarkably unified view of the components of victimization event. I review these below. Harm The experience of harm or loss is necessary for the experience of victimhood by definition (Bayley, 1991; Montada, 1994; Leisenring, 2006). Studies of victimization and victim movements have tended to emphasize the significance of variation in the level of harm, or perceived harm, on a variety of victim outcomes and behaviors. In an early study of crime reporting Skogan (1976) found that individuals were more likely to report burglaries when material losses were greater – a finding replicated time and time again throughout subsequent literature on the subject (e.g., Greenberg & Ruback, 1992). Equally, the seriousness of victim suffering has been argued to be a key element in the rhetoric of the victim’s movement. Loseke argues that such movements are at their most effective when their objects suffer 'very troublesome conditions' (1999: 77). Davies (1998) has described the stress advocates placed on the terror that battered women felt. Thus, I expect that the perception that an event was harmful will be a key component of the perception that one has undergone a victimizing event, and is therefore a victim. Page 5

Authors: Davies, Andrew.
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DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ##
be considered unjust.  When all three criteria are met and an individual suffers a harmful event for 
which they were not responsible in violation of some standard of justice, a victimization may be said to 
have occurred.
This tri-partite description of a victimization experience is derived from a variety of theoretical sources 
including literatures on victim advocacy, justice motivation and the 'social construction' of victimhood. 
These sources, while substantively, theoretically and methodologically relatively diverse, present a 
remarkably unified view of the components of victimization event.  I review these below.
Harm
The experience of harm or loss is necessary for the experience of victimhood by definition (Bayley, 
1991; Montada, 1994; Leisenring, 2006).  Studies of victimization and victim movements have tended 
to emphasize the significance of variation in the level of harm, or perceived harm, on a variety of 
victim outcomes and behaviors.  In an early study of crime reporting Skogan (1976) found that 
individuals were more likely to report burglaries when material losses were greater – a finding 
replicated time and time again throughout subsequent literature on the subject (e.g., Greenberg & 
Ruback, 1992).  Equally, the seriousness of victim suffering has been argued to be a key element in the 
rhetoric of the victim’s movement.  Loseke argues that such movements are at their most effective 
when their objects suffer 'very troublesome conditions' (1999: 77).  Davies (1998) has described the 
stress advocates placed on the terror that battered women felt.  Thus, I expect that the perception that an 
event was harmful will be a key component of the perception that one has undergone a victimizing 
event, and is therefore a victim.
Page 5


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