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Crime Victimization Glossary

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This Crime Victimization Glossary is a compilation of terms and definitions provided in the OVC Directory of Crime Victim Services.

The list of terms, its sources, and the links to more information are provided for ease of reference and should not be interpreted as comprehensive and exhaustive to the crime victims field, victimology, or criminology.

Unless otherwise noted – the source of these definitions is the Office for Victims of Crime Performance Measure Dictionary and Terminology Resource, Office for Victims of Crime, 2020.

Glossary Terms and Definitions

Sexual Assault

Includes a wide range of victimizations/crimes that include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing, fondling, and verbal threats. Also included is rape, which is defined as penetration of any kind, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration of a sex organ by another person, without the consent of the victim; may also include penetration of the mouth by a sex organ by another person.

Shelter/Safe House

Providing emergency short-term shelter to individuals and families following victimization.

Providing temporary housing for victims who, due to the nature of the victimization, cannot safely return to their former housing and need more time to stabilize themselves before living independently.

Coordinating assistance with rental expenses, utility deposits, security deposits, and/or moving fees. This includes assistance locating long-term housing for the victim, regardless of distance, based on safety needs.


Individuals are classified as victims of stalking or harassment if they experienced at least one of the behaviors listed below on at least two separate occasions. In addition, the individuals must have feared for their safety or that of a family member as a result of the course of conduct or have experienced additional threatening behaviors that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Stalking behaviors include: making unwanted phone calls; sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or emails; following or spying on the victim; showing up at places without a legitimate reason; waiting at places for the victim; leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers; and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the Internet/social media, in a public place, or by word of mouth.

Teen Dating Violence

The occurrence of physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a teen dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner.

Terrorism and Mass Violence

An intentional violent criminal act that results in physical, emotional, or psychological injury to a sufficiently large number of people to significantly increase the burden of victim assistance and compensation for the responding jurisdiction.

Victim Advocacy and Accompaniment Services

Services in this category include—

  • victim advocacy/accompaniment to emergency medical care,
  • victim advocacy/accompaniment to medical forensic exam,
  • law enforcement interview advocacy/accompaniment,
  • individual advocacy (e.g., assistance in applying for public benefits, return of personal property or effects, etc.),
  • performance of medical or nonmedical forensic exam or interview, or medical evidence collection,
  • immigration assistance,
  • intervention with employer, creditor, landlord, or academic institution,
  • child or dependent care assistance,
  • transportation assistance, and
  • interpreter services.

Victim Counseling

Providing psychological, psychiatric, and/or other counseling-related treatment for individuals, couples, and family members. This service must be provided by a person who meets professional standards to provide these services in the jurisdiction in which the care is administered.

Victim Notification

Communicating with victims to notify them of hearings and appearances, the defendant’s release from jail, the status of the case, bond hearings, grand jury decisions, disposition options, appellate decisions, etc. This includes assisting victims in contacting probation/parole offices, community supervision, department of corrections, etc. to get information of any changes in the convicted defendant’s status.

Victim Support Groups

Providing or facilitating supportive group activities led by staff or peer. This can include group counseling sessions, peer support groups, or other groups that bring victims together to aid in the healing process.

Date Modified: May 1, 2023
Date Created: May 18, 2020