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Victim–Offender Relationship and the Emotional, Social, and Physical Consequences of Violent Victimization

Published:January 06, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2021.10.018

      Introduction

      Research is equivocal about how the social relationship between victims and offenders is linked to the emotional, social, and physical consequences of violence. This study examines the association of victim–offender relationship with the adverse outcomes reported by injured and uninjured victims of violence.

      Methods

      The study analyzed 16,723 violent victimizations recorded by the National Crime Victimization Survey from 2008 to 2018. Multivariable quasi-Poisson models estimated the associations between the victim–offender relationship and victims’ emotional distress, social distress, and physical and emotional symptoms. These models also estimated a statistical interaction between victim–offender relationship and violent injury to examine how this association differed for injured and uninjured victims. The analyses occurred during 2020 and 2021.

      Results

      Uninjured victims were more likely to report emotional distress (risk ratio=1.41, 95% CI=1.33, 1.50), social distress (risk ratio=3.12, 95% CI=2.78, 3.51), more physical symptoms (symptom frequency ratio=1.68, 95% CI=1.51, 1.87), and more emotional symptoms (symptom frequency ratio=1.13, 95% CI=1.08, 1.18) in family member/intimate partner violence than in stranger violence. Victims also reported worse outcomes after acquaintance violence than after stranger violence. For injured victims, these differences narrowed—but were still significant—in emotional and social distress models. However, the number of emotional and physical symptoms reported by injured victims did not significantly vary across victim–offender relationships.

      Conclusions

      Relational closeness between victims and offenders is a risk factor for adverse outcomes after violent victimization, and it is more strongly associated with these outcomes for uninjured victims than for injured victims.
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