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  • Theories are useful to describe, explain, and predict behaviors associated with victimization and perpetration.

  • Causes of violence are multifactorial involving several perspectives to capture an accurate depiction.

  • Many of the historical approaches to explore violence pathologize the offender and blame the victim.


Violence and crime have existed for as long as we can remember. The Bible, dating back to 1500 B.C., contains stories of genocide, fratricide, and other types of violence. Society grapples with issues related to prevention of violence, intervening with victims and offenders of violence, and maintaining public safety. Multiple factors can result in violence including, but not limited to, mental illness, racism, poverty, gangs, drugs, availability of guns, media influences, and family relations (Meadows, 2013). Criminologists, psychologists, social scientists, and healthcare providers are all interested in understanding victimization and perpetration and the factors that increase individuals’ risk. An understanding of the factors that make an individual at risk for victimization and perpetration is essential to prevent violence from occurring. Theoretical perspectives allow a mechanism to link concepts and provide context for behaviors. Theories are organizing frameworks of interrelated concepts, facts, or tested hypotheses that systematically seek to describe, explain, and predict a phenomenon and the relationships among the constructs. Research rooted in theory is more effective in describing, explaining, and determining effective prevention and intervention strategies.

In every crime, there is a victim, the person who was harmed by a crime or unpleasant event, and a perpetrator, a person or persons who carry out a crime or deception. Victims are sometimes called survivors. Victim can be viewed as passive status whereby an individual lacks agency. Survivor connotes strength in living through a traumatic experience. This chapter provides nurses with theoretical information to understand violence, victimization, and perpetration. It includes historical and societal influences and perceptions of violence, victimization, and victims. Further, the chapter provides information to help clinicians to begin to understand the etiology and motivation of offender behavior.


Much of the data on crime comes from two distinctly different sources: crime reports and research surveys.


The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), are annual reports that show the estimated crime rate for that year. The UCR program collects information reported by law enforcement agencies regarding the violent crimes of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault as well as the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. In the latest available statistics, an estimated 11 million arrests were made in 2013 (FBI, 2013), most of which were for property crime rather than violent crime.

Arrest data describes offenders. Arrested persons were overwhelmingly male ...

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