31 August 2018

Louise Victoria Johansen and Ida Helene Asmussen present paper at 18th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology

Categorizing victims of violence in Denmark. Institutional understandings and victims’ experiences

This paper presents findings from an ongoing, three-year qualitative project about victims of violence in Denmark. It asks how criminal justice institutions as well as victims themselves understand and use ideas of victimhood. At a political level, legislation aimed at improving victims’ situation is based on an idealized notion of innocent victims, where crimes of violence are addressed as ‘single events’ performed by unknown offenders. However, Danish police and courts often experience that these idealized notions do not match the actual violence cases they meet. Victims themselves also tend to distinguish between being a ‘real’ victim, typically having suffered severe physical damage, and not really labeling themselves as victims in minor cases. The paper analyses these categories of victimhood as well as the legal actions they set in motion. We discuss how the different notions of victims draw upon issues of gender, social environments, and risky behavior, issues that to a certain extent imply the individual culpability of victims themselves.