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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 ## External attribution Victims have at least three choices for understanding the precipitation of unpleasant events. Firstly, they may have been caused by some other person or agent. Secondly, they might have been caused by some random and unpredictable factor in the environment – usually meaning that the event was an accident. Thirdly, they might have been caused by themselves – that is, the victim might 'self blame' (Hall et al., 2003). Montada (1994) argues that victim status may only be attributed in the first two of these cases. Thus, an individual may be considered a victim when the unpleasant event was perpetrated on them by a third party, or where the event was essentially unpredictable or accidental. But where an event was the result of 'their own risky actions, their own wrong decisions, or their own careless behavior....we hesitate to use the term victimization' (1994:6). Dunn’s (2001) work on the treatment of stalking victims by prosecutors appears to substantiate this point: where victims were interpreted as able to control the behavior of the stalker, responsibility for any alleged victimization was judged to fall on the shoulders of the victim herself. I therefore argue that the perception that the event was caused by some agent or environmental force external to the victim themselves will be the second key component of the perception of a victimizing event. Injustice Judgments of the overall unfairness of a situation, separate from questions regarding causation, are very common in discussions of victim status. In the policy arena, victim compensation schemes generally allow for reduced awards where the victim is either judged to have precipitated their own victimization or where a criminal record renders them of dubious moral character (Meirs, 2007). More generally, Loseke observes that sympathy is reserved only for individuals who are 'evaluated as moral', while Christie argues that the 'ideal victim' is one who at the time of victimization is engaged in a 'respectable Page 6

Authors: Davies, Andrew.
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DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ##
External attribution
Victims have at least three choices for understanding the precipitation of unpleasant events.  Firstly, 
they may have been caused by some other person or agent.  Secondly, they might have been caused by 
some random and unpredictable factor in the environment – usually meaning that the event was an 
accident.  Thirdly, they might have been caused by themselves – that is, the victim might 'self blame' 
(Hall et al., 2003).  Montada (1994) argues that victim status may only be attributed in the first two of 
these cases.  Thus, an individual may be considered a victim when the unpleasant event was perpetrated 
on them by a third party, or where the event was essentially unpredictable or accidental.  But where an 
event was the result of 'their own risky actions, their own wrong decisions, or their own careless 
behavior....we hesitate to use the term victimization' (1994:6).  Dunn’s (2001) work on the treatment of 
stalking victims by prosecutors appears to substantiate this point: where victims were interpreted as 
able to control the behavior of the stalker, responsibility for any alleged victimization was judged to fall 
on the shoulders of the victim herself.  I therefore argue that the perception that the event was caused 
by some agent or environmental force external to the victim themselves will be the second key 
component of the perception of a victimizing event.
Judgments of the overall unfairness of a situation, separate from questions regarding causation, are very 
common in discussions of victim status.  In the policy arena, victim compensation schemes generally 
allow for reduced awards where the victim is either judged to have precipitated their own victimization 
or where a criminal record renders them of dubious moral character (Meirs, 2007).  More generally, 
Loseke observes that sympathy is reserved only for individuals who are 'evaluated as moral', while 
Christie argues that the 'ideal victim' is one who at the time of victimization is engaged in a 'respectable 
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