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Soc Work. 2001 Apr;46(2):115-24.

Crimes against people with mental illness: types, perpetrators, and influencing factors.

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School of Social Work, Loyola University of Chicago, 820 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


The current emphasis on studying why people with severe mental illness are potentially violent has overlooked the effect of violence committed against these individuals. To balance the understanding of the person-in-environment conceptualization of severe mental illness, the nature, scope, and effect of crime and victimization should be examined as part of the context in which these individuals live and function. The study reported in this article examined the nature and scope of victimization as experienced by 234 individuals with a diagnosed major mental illness; what types of victimization experiences occurred during their lifetime; what specific victimization experiences these individuals identified as the most troubling; who the perpetrators for these specific victimization experiences were; and what influence demographic and clinical characteristics played in influencing the risk of victimization among this group. The study indicates that social workers should better assess for experiences of victimization among people with mental illness and better understand the effect of such experiences on the individual's symptoms and day-to-day functioning.

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