Recovering From Sexual Victimization: The Role of Victim Services

Joachim Obergfell-Fuchs, Max-Planck-Institute for Criminal Law

ABSTRACT
In the last decades a widespread system of victim services developed in Germany, most of them are built up by private institutions. On the other side, their offers are manifold: counseling, different forms of psychotherapy, financial aids, self-help groups, and other kinds of victim services are offered. On the other side, only small evaluation efforts are undertaken to assess the effectiveness of these offers. In 2000 the Max Planck Institute for Criminal Law together with the Weisse Ring, the largest private German victim service, started a research project on the effectiveness of victim services for victims of severe sexual crimes. Based on two different samples, victims were asked about their experiences with victim services, the rapists, and self-help groups. Victims' expectations for assistance were compared to the received support in their psychological recovery process. The data show that most victims ask for extensive assistance, besides psychotherapy financial aids play an important role. A model of the differential effectiveness of victim services in recovering from sexual victimization, including the role of law enforcement agencies and the reactions of the social network, will be presented.

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Updated 05/20/2006