Re-Victimization: Definition and Meaning

It is more complicated when adults who were sexually molested as children become victims again. There are numerous hypotheses as to how this works. A maladaptive kind of learning is one that some scientists advocate; the first maltreatment imparts incorrect thoughts and behaviors that last into adulthood. The victim may unintentionally seek out violent partners or cling to abusive relationships because they believe abusive behavior is "normal" and begin to expect it from others in the context of partnerships.

Meaning of Re-Victimization

It can be a repetition of the earlier incident or another kind of abuse. If you have experienced sexual abuse, you might later experience revictimization, such as sexual harassment. If you have been the victim of sexual exploitation, you are not alone. According to a 2017 study, nearly half of people who experienced sexual abuse as children will experience it again in their adult lives.

Occurrence for Revictimization

Risk variables that were already present before the initial victimization and that were not altered or minimized as a result of it are frequently the cause of subsequent short-term victimization; in other cases, the victim is powerless to modify these factors. These risk factors include, for example, being unemployed, living or working in unsafe regions, having tumultuous family relationships, being aggressive in nature, and using drugs or alcohol. Revictimization could be "facilitated, tolerated, and even produced by specific institutional contexts, illustrating how the risk of revictimization is not a trait of the individual, nor is it a result of destiny."

Revictimization has no age restrictions, despite the fact that it is most frequently observed in people who have experienced childhood abuse. It is a possibility for both women and men who endured sexual assault as adults. Investigations are still ongoing to determine the cause of the high prevalence of repeat experiences, but a variety of circumstances, including −

  • Age

  • Mental health

  • Personality

  • Support Networks

  • Severity or length of violence

Happening of Revictimization

Sometimes, even if they have the best of intentions, members of your family might support victimization without even realizing it. You could feel ignored and unsupported by these behaviors. Sometimes you could be made to feel guilty or like you're placing your family in a difficult situation. When this occurs, if you encounter sexual abuse, you might be reluctant to speak up once more. It may seem pointless to defend your safety, in your opinion.

Here are a few methods family members could use to accomplish this.

  • Remaining Neutral − Some family members might not want to take sides when there is sexual abuse taking place. Even though they are aware that what happened was wrong, they might not be able to get past their passion for the abuser.

  • Refusing To Listen − The news of abuse might be distressing to hear. It's possible that some members of your family will become hostile and refuse to hear what happened.

  • Distancing − Your family members may choose to exclude the person who mistreated you from family gatherings or activities rather than inviting them in an effort to help.

  • Minimizing The Abuse − When families are made aware of sexual abuse, they may attempt to downplay it or even deny it. They might do this to distance themselves from the circumstances.

  • Blaming − The level of victim shaming or placing blame might vary. Some members of the family could be attempting to comprehend how the incident occurred. Others may make incredibly harsh charges, implying that you did something on purpose.

  • Pushing For Forgiveness − Families can be torn apart by sexual abuse, and not everyone is prepared to make this sacrifice. People in your family may beg you to forgive the abuser so that the relationship can be patched up.

Effect of Revictimization on Mental Health

In revictimization, mental health may be crucial. The chance of experiencing abuse again may be influenced by both pre-existing mental health issues and those brought on by the trauma.

How is it that revictimization in children is frequently associated with a mental health problem that is already present and increased vulnerability to −

  • A non-caregiving adult residing in the home

  • Domestic abuse

Adults who have experienced trauma may develop mental defense systems. The likelihood of being a victim again may rise as a result of these actions.

  • Rationalization − Defending the abusive actions of the person, especially if they were a caretaker.

  • Fear of Abandonment − Accepting maltreatment in order to escape being alone.

  • Reenactment − Deliberately putting yourself in dangerous situations.

  • Acceptance of Violence − Equating continued maltreatment with a normal aspect of life.

  • Guilt − Having the impression that your family has been harmed or that you shouldn't have survived when others haven't.

  • Low Self-Esteem − Having the impression that you deserve what has happened to you or have no worth to defend.

Techniques for Avoiding Sexual Re-Victimization

No personality quirk or mental health sign you possess could justify someone else's cruel behavior. People who abuse others frequently look for a weak target. For this reason, obtaining help from a mental health expert is one of the first steps in preventing revictimization. Experts in mental health treatment can assist you in identifying the trauma-related impacts that can make you more susceptible to abusive situations.

Through psychotherapy, you can learn to control emotions like guilt, low self-esteem, or powerlessness. Additionally, you can learn behavioral methods to help you recognize abusive actions and escape dangerous circumstances. Setting and enforcing those appropriate boundaries with others can also be aided by therapy.

Other strategies to protect yourself from being a victim again include following simple safety advice like −

  • Maintaining social contacts in public spaces while avoiding high-risk events, people, and areas

  • Ensuring that your phone is always charged.

  • Keeping vigilant and practicing being secure by securing windows and doors while having an accountability companion who knows where you are and who you are.

  • Preserving your beverage

  • Keeping track of your alcohol intake and enrolling in a self-defense class


Revictimization has also been defined as a phenomenon where children who are portrayed in child pornography feel as though the incident is happening again every time the image is seen. The kids endure reliving the event as if it were happening all over again every time, they see the picture. The children experience or feel as though they have been raped repeatedly as a result of viewing the photos repeatedly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What exactly the term Bullying defines?

Ans. Bullying is when someone is mistreated, violently dominated, or intimidated by the use of force, compulsion, harsh teasing, or threats. The actions are frequently repeated and ingrained. The sense of an imbalance of physical or social power, whether held by the bully or by others, is a necessary precursor. Bullying and conflict are distinguished by this imbalance.

Q2. What is Harassment?

Ans. The term "harassment" refers to a broad range of offensive activities. It is typically recognized by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral acceptability and is regarded as behavior that denigrates, humiliates, or embarrasses a person. These actions appear to be distressing, threatening, or unsettling in a legal sense.

Q3. What do you mean by Teasing?

Ans. Teasing can be used in many different ways. There are three main types of teasing used in interpersonal interactions: amusing, cruel, and educational. Depending on how it is utilized and the outcome desired, teasing can have a range of impacts. When teasing is undesirable, it could be considered harassment or mobbing, especially in the workplace and at school, or it might be viewed as a kind of bullying or emotional abuse. If done in front of others, it might be seen as humiliating.

Updated on: 11-May-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started