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When Violence Happens to People with Mental Illness: Disclosing Victimization

NCJ Number
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry Volume: 69 Issue: 3 Dated: July 1999 Pages: 398-402
James A. Marley Ph.D.; Sarah Buila M.S.W
Date Published
July 1999
5 pages
This article examines how victimization experiences of mentally ill persons come to the attention of the police or other people.
Of 234 adult victims of a traumatic crime who had a diagnosed mental disorder, 51 percent reported the crime to the police and 70 percent to someone else. Those identifying a family member, relative, service provider or police officer as perpetrator were significantly less likely to report the crime. Those who lived in a group home, had a substance abuse history, or were diagnosed with schizophrenia experienced more negative responses when reporting their victimization. Mental health professionals need to be more diligent in assessing victimization experiences of individuals with a mental illness, especially the ability of the victims to disclose the traumatic crime to someone for help or support. Clients who know the perpetrator or who fear reprisal may need specific clinical interventions and support. Police should receive detailed and specific training in interviewing victims with diagnosed mental illness, training that could parallel the training required for police who interview women following a sexual assault. Tables, references