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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 ## result. One caveat is important, however: scholarship on guilt tends to suggest that when individuals feel personally responsible for a negative event they are equally capable of feeling anger directed at themselves as when another party is responsible (Lerner, 1998). It is also therefore possible that, pace Lazarus, attributions are not important predictors of angry feelings. Secondary Rights Second, experiences identified as victimizations should result in the self-ascription of secondary rights. I coin the term 'secondary rights’ to refer to the rights victims attain a result of their victimization. It is derived from the notion of 'secondary victimization', already familiar to victimologists. Practically speaking, secondary victimization is used to refer to any suffering that victims experience while in the care of agencies charged with processing them – particularly the police, prosecutors and the courts. Montada proposes a formal definition as '[v]iolations of rights and entitlements which victims claim after having been victimized' (Montada, 1994: 7, emphasis omitted). The notion of secondary victimization is thus predicated on the notion of special 'secondary rights' granted to victims. The notion appears elsewhere in the literature too, as when Holstein & Miller (1990) describe victim claims of a 'right' to social assistance as one of the symbolic purposes of victimhood. I therefore hypothesize that events which appear to an individual to be victimizing will result in greater self-ascriptions of secondary rights. Victim self-ascription Finally, the perception by an individual that an event meets the criteria specified above should also make them more willing and likely to label themselves as a 'victim'. In Leisenring's (2006) study of victim discourses among a sample of domestic violence victims, she described the complex and Page 8

Authors: Davies, Andrew.
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DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ##
result.  One caveat is important, however: scholarship on guilt tends to suggest that when individuals 
feel personally responsible for a negative event they are equally capable of feeling anger directed at 
themselves as when another party is responsible (Lerner, 1998).  It is also therefore possible that, pace 
Lazarus, attributions are not important predictors of angry feelings.
Secondary Rights
Second, experiences identified as victimizations should result in the self-ascription of secondary rights. 
I coin the term 'secondary rights’ to refer to the rights victims attain a result of their victimization.  It is 
derived from the notion of 'secondary victimization', already familiar to victimologists.  Practically 
speaking, secondary victimization is used to refer to any suffering that victims experience while in the 
care of agencies charged with processing them – particularly the police, prosecutors and the courts. 
Montada proposes a formal definition as '[v]iolations of rights and entitlements which victims claim 
after having been victimized' (Montada, 1994: 7, emphasis omitted).  The notion of secondary 
victimization is thus predicated on the notion of special 'secondary rights' granted to victims.  The 
notion appears elsewhere in the literature too, as when Holstein & Miller (1990) describe victim claims 
of a 'right' to social assistance as one of the symbolic purposes of victimhood.  I therefore hypothesize 
that events which appear to an individual to be victimizing will result in greater self-ascriptions of 
secondary rights.
Victim self-ascription
Finally, the perception by an individual that an event meets the criteria specified above should also 
make them more willing and likely to label themselves as a 'victim'.  In Leisenring's (2006) study of 
victim discourses among a sample of domestic violence victims, she described the complex and 
Page 8


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