This article seeks to unite the qualitative and quantitative data on help-seeking, discrimination in criminal legal system functioning, and barriers to victim services for African American victims of crime, and discusses the development of a conceptual model that may help lay the foundation for research aimed at resolving inequities in care for victims of violence.
Many inequities exist in serving and supporting Black survivors of violent crime. A key question in reducing inequities in care after victimization is whether police first responders and other formal system providers identify the victim as an "offender" and/or someone who is "undeserving" of supports. These labels and associated biases can directly reduce access to supports through a variety of mechanisms that include police withholding information about one's rights as a victim, among other direct and indirect barriers to social and health services. Unaddressed financial, mental, and physical health consequences of victimization contribute to poorer health outcomes later in life. This paper seeks to bring together the extant research on help-seeking, discrimination in criminal legal system functioning, and barriers to victim services by synthesizing these discrete threads into a theoretically and empirically informed conceptual model that captures the range of factors that shape Black Americans' decision to report their victimization to the police and subsequent help-seeking. Qualitative and quantitative data from a purposive sample of 91 Black victims of community violence is used to ground the developing model. The conceptual model can help lay the foundation for research that seeks to remedy the marked mismatch between the prevalence of violent victimization and help-seeking among Black Americans. Research findings can be applied to guide policies and programming to reduce inequities in care for victims of violence. (Published Abstracts Provided)