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J Trauma Stress. 2014 Jun;27(3):365-9. doi: 10.1002/jts.21913. Epub 2014 May 8.

Mobilizing victim services: the role of reporting to the police.

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Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Victim assistance programs have grown dramatically in response to the victim's rights movement and concern over difficulty navigating victim services. Evidence, however, indicates that very few victims seek assistance. The present study examined factors associated with victim service use including reporting to the police, the victim's demographic characteristics, the victim's injury, offender's use of a weapon, the victim's relationship to the offender, and the victim's mental and physical distress. Data came from a subset of the National Crime Victimization Survey 2008-2011 (N = 4,746), a stratified multistage cluster sample survey of persons age 12 years and older in the United States. Logistic regression models indicated that fewer than 10% of victims of violent crime sought help from victim services. Reporting to the police increased the odds of seeking services by 3 times. In addition, the odds of victims attacked by an intimate partner seeking services were 4.5 times greater than victims attacked by strangers. Findings suggest that additional exploratory work is needed in uncovering the mechanism of police involvement in linking victims to services. Specifically, do police understand what services are available to victims and why are police more likely to inform some types of victims about services more than others?

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