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Differentscholars and criminologist use different criteria to categorizevictims. However, the most suitable basis of victim categorizationshould demonstrate characteristics of each category and demonstratehow those characteristics can be used to differentiate betweendifferent groups of victims (City of Charlotte, 2015). In most cases,victims are categorized into primary, secondary, and related victims,which is based on three characteristics, name, and their relationshipwith the cause of harm, location at the time of harm, and theirassociation with the actual victim who was directly affected by theoffender (Victims of Crime Assisted Tribunal, 2015). The threecharacteristics are determined by location and social patters ofvictims.

Victimsare placed in each of the three categories depending on theirspecific characteristics. For example, victims are classified asprimary victims when they are harmed under several circumstances,including a crime committed directly against them, trying to deterthe commission of a crime, or trying to rescue someone else from aviolent crime (Queensland Government, 2015). All these featuresindicate that a primary victim comes into a direct contact with theoffender. Victims in this category may be characterized by a feelingof guilt, depression, and mistrust.

Secondly,individuals are categorized as secondary victims under twocircumstances. The first feature of a secondary victim is thetendency to get harmed by simply witnessing a crime taking place. Thesecond feature is the tendency to get harmed after becoming aware ofthe occurrence of a crime, even without witnessing it happen(Queensland Government, 2015). The second feature may suggest thatthe secondary victim had close relations with the people affecteddirectly by the crime. Victims in this category may be characterizedby a feeling of fear and irritation.

Third,individuals may be categorized as related victims dependingexclusively on their relationship with the persons who have beendirectly involved in a given crime. Features of individuals placed inthis category include close family relatives, persons with intimaterelationships with the primary victims, and dependants of an injuredor deceased victim (Queensland Government, 2015). These victims aremostly characterized by emotional distress and insecurity.

Placingvictims into different categories makes it easier for criminologiststo study their characteristics and identify their perceptions abouttheir offenders. Studying the features of each category of victims isthe first step towards understanding of the relationship between theoffender and the victim. For example, a criminologist is able tounderstand that a spouse who is directly victimized may becomesocially and emotionally dependent to the offender while the relativeof the victimized spouse, who falls under the related victimcategory, may become emotionally distressed. In addition, studyingthe features of victims in each category makes it easy to identifythe possible causes of victimization. A combination of these factors(including a study of the victim attitude and features) paves the wayfor criminologists to identify the key factors that motivated theoffender to depart from the socially acceptable standards and engagein deviant behaviors. Therefore, victim categorization is critical inthe study of criminology.

Inconclusion, victims are classified according to the features thatthey demonstrate after being victimized. Although different scholarsclassify victims in different ways, the three categories (includingthe primary, secondary, and related victims) are more common. Thistype of classification is generally dependent on the victim’slocation and social patterns or relationship with the primaryvictims. In the overall categorization of victims help criminologistsunderstand factors that make offenders engage in deviant behaviors.


Cityof Charlotte (2015). Characteristicsof domestic violence victims.Charlotte: Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.

QueenslandGovernment (2015). Victimcategories.Bolsover: Queensland Government.

Victimsof Crime Assisted Tribunal (2015). Secondaryvictims.Melbourne, VIC: VCAT.

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