Women's Experiences of Violent Victimization in Public Housing: Does Collective Efficacy Make a Difference?

Claire Renzetti, St. Joseph's University

Economically disadvantaged women who live in public housing developments face an elevated risk of violent victimization, especially by intimates and acquaintances. Criminological research in disadvantaged neighborhoods, however, has found that the level of collective efficacy in the neighborhood lowers rates of violent victimization. This theory has not been tested in public housing nor with regard to women's violent victimization by intimates and acquaintances. The present paper reports on research that tests the hypothesis that in public housing developments characterized by high collective efficacy female residents have lower rates of violent victimization, including victimization by intimates and acquaintances. Data were collected through structured interviews with female residents of two public housing developments in Philadelphia characterized by high collective and female residents of two public housing develoment in the same city characterized by low collective efficacy. The implications of the study in terms of women's safety and crime control in public housing are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006