Psychological Distress Following Criminal Victimization in the General Population: Cross-Sectional, Longitudinal, and Prospective Analyses

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Samples of 105 violent crime victims, 227 property crime victims, and 190 nonvictims provided normative data regarding levels of psychological distress following criminal victimization. At points approximately 3 months, 9 months, and 15 months postcrime, symptoms of depression, somatization, hostility, anxiety, phobic anxiety, fear of crime, and avoidance were assessed. Although crime victims showed substantial improvement between 3 and 9 months, thereafter they did not. Over the course of the study, violent crime victims remained more distressed than did property crime victims who, in turn, remained more distressed than nonvictims. Regression analyses revealed that the effects of crime could not be accounted for by precrime differences between victims and nonvictims in either social status or psychological functioning. However, lasting effects were often contingent on the occurrence of subsequent crimes.

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