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Mass Violence and Terrorism Victimization: What We Know from Research- and Practice-Based Evidence

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2020
34 pages

This study by the Center for Victim Research (CVR) examined evidence from research and practice pertinent to victimization from mass violence and terrorism (MVT), which includes not only those who experience physical harms, but also those who experience psychological or other non-physical harms.


Crimes involving mass violence and terrorism (MVT) pose distinctive challenges that can overwhelm local communities’ response and victim assistance, thus requiring a coordinated, cross-sector approach. Victims may need assistance for traumatic injuries and the mental stresses of shock, anxiety, anger, resentment, fear, and numbness (emotional paralysis). The psychological disorders of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and prolonger grief may be victimization effects. The commonly recommended early interventions after an MVT incident relate to preventing long-term psychological harm by reducing victims’ distress, addressing their immediate needs, and building their coping skills. A large-scale MVT event requires a coordinated, cross-sector response and advanced planning to develop response and recovery protocols; however, few of such protocols have been evaluated for their effectiveness. Additional evidence is also needed on the most effective approaches of responding to MVTs with various characteristics and potential harms. In addition, more research is needed on the prevalence of MVT victimizations, harms experienced by the larger communities where MVT events occur, and harms experienced by marginalized communities. 100 references and appended definitions and sources of mass violence and terrorism prevalence data

Date Published: September 1, 2020