Victim Typologies


Sellin and Wolfgang’s typology is based on a five-group approach, which addresses situations that lead to crimes being committed instead of relations. Those classifications are known as primary, secondary, tertiary, mutual and no victimization. Every one of the groupings addresses a unique situation, which could lead to victimization and because each one of them differs, they are going to be discussed widely for clarity to avoid confusion.

Primary victimization refers to personal victimization; this implies that a person or group of individuals befall to be the first-hand victims of a planned crime. The crime committed can be because of revenge or personal grudge against one person or a selected group of individuals.

Secondary victimization occurs when a person is victimized unintentionally due to crime, for instance, murder. When a member of a family dies due to a terrible act, of course, the victim will not be around; however, his or her close and distant relatives will become victims due to the crime. The family members are not direct victims of the offense committed, but due to the member being killed, they are now secondary victims of the attack.

Tertiary victimization refers to a community as whole becoming victims. These crimes affect all the Society members and can be tackled with them together when they join hands. The government towards its citizens usually commits the majority of these crimes. For instance, when a politician rigs the election, every member of the society who voted and who did not vote will be victims since their rights to choose a leader they want will be interfered with during the election.

Mutual victimization occurs when a person who commits a crime is retaliated against and later on becomes a victim himself or herself. For instance, when a criminal commits a robbery injuring an employee who happens to be the daughter of a police officer, her father gets angry and decides to get even with the offender. He tries to murder the criminal; however, he inflicts severe wounds on him. The offender becomes a victim of mutual victimization in this scenario.

No victimization refers to a victimization, which is hard to explain. In most cases, crimes that are considered victimless fall under this classification. For instance, an over 18 student picking up a prostitute in a club, despite prostitution being known as a crime, the two people involved are also adults. Therefore, the crime becomes victimless.

According to the Time Magazine, after the November election whereby Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States, cases of hate crimes have increased based on individuals race, gender, religion, and ethnicity (Reilly, 2016). It is believed that may have been caused by the proposals and rhetoric, which were used by the President-elect during campaigns like mass deportations of immigrants and barring Muslims from entering the country. This situation falls under Sellin and Wolfgang’s typology of primary victimization.

The Southern Poverty Law Center received more than 200 cases of hate crimes since election whereby many white supremacists in the country decided to celebrate Mr. Trump’s win; hence, minorities feeling their oats. Various people have marched in the streets to protest such behavior while several advocacy groups have called up the President-elect to condemn such actions, which is expected for him to act on the hate issues among Americans. For instance, in Maryland, when the vicar of Episcopal Church of Our Savior in Silver Spring, opened the church as every usual Sunday in the morning he was shocked to find that an advertising sign for Spanish sermons had been torn. The brick wall near the garden, which is used as a memorial site in Church, was written: “TRUMP NATION WHITES ONLY.” Other Churches in the region, which have Latinos as the majority, were also targeted thereby creating fear amongst the people in the area (Reilly, 2016).

In Pennsylvania, Black students who are a minority at the University of Pennsylvania were included in racist GroupMe message, whereby hate slurs were directed toward them (Reilly, 2016). The group was given a name of “Mudmen” and an anonymous person calling himself or herself “Daddy Trump” sent messages full of racial comments. One of the messages also indulged in the act of gender violence whereby it referenced Mr. Trump’s remarks regarding grabbing females by their genitals even without their consent while the other was calling for the lynching of black people. In Michigan, an unidentified man threatened a female student at the University of Michigan to remove her hijab or dare risk being set on fire with a lighter. Due to the reported rising hate crimes ever since September 9/11, the police in different states have promised to keep Americans safe by investigating various incidences and taking action on the criminals. The article illustrates cases of hate or bias crimes in America against black people, Muslims, and Women after the election thereby these offenses being classified under primary victimization.

Differences between victimology and criminology

Criminology is the scientific study of the nature, cause, extent, and control of criminal behavior in a person while victimology is defined as the study of the victim’s position or participation in the crimes. These definitions clearly highlight the major differences in the two scientific norms. Criminology directly examines criminal behavior while victimology studies the particular victims involved in the crimes. The article used in this paper discusses many hate or bias crimes directed at the minorities in America after the election by the white supremacists. The crimes discussed range from race, gender, and religion. The subject of the type of offenses in this paper falls under victimology since it studies victims of the crimes from the clerics, whose church was vandalized to Black students at the University of Michigan who were racially attacked through a GroupMe message. It also discusses how a female Muslim student was gender abused when an unidentified man threatened her to remove her hijab or risk being set on fire.


Through the study of various victim typologies by Sellin and Wolfgang and studying the difference between victimology and criminology, one can notice the demand for more research, which needs to be done on the field of criminal behavior. The needs to find out the reasons as to why some individuals still become victims in our society is wanting, especially in America whereby hate crimes were reducing in the previous years. During last year, hate crimes were lesser in the United States and it was rare for race, ethnic, or gender abuse to occur. The arise situation in America calls for more researchers to figure the cause of this hate crime so that we can build a better America for our children’s children in the future.


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