Empirically assessing the threat of victimization: how victimization and gender mediate the relationship between perceived risk, fear of victimization and constrained behaviour

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Wortman, Shauna
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There are a number of issues within the fear of crime literature, such as problems defining and measuring fear of crime, which continue to exist. Thus, the first aim of this thesis was to empirically test a new fear of crime model that consists of three components: fear of victimization (emotive), perceived risk (cognitive) and constrained behaviour (behavioural). The multiple component theory posits that a reciprocal relationship exists between the components that contribute to people feeling threatened by criminal victimization (also referred to as the threat of victimization). Past research has also indicated that gender is always a significant predictor of fear of crime, and therefore was included in the test to assess if women continue to feel threatened by victimization more than men in the new model. Finally two common theories used to explain why women fear crime more than men; specifically gender construction that equates femininity with vulnerability and masculinity with invulnerability and prior experience with intimate partner violence and stalking, were explored. The data came from the Statistics Canada General Social Survey 2004: Cycle 18, which is a Canadian telephone survey that measures fear of crime as well as various types of criminal victimization. A quantitative analysis was done using multiple logistic regressions to assess all three objectives. Results for this thesis indicate that a reciprocal relationship exists between all three components of the threat of victimization and must continue to be measured as separate constructs. Perceived risk and constrained behaviour are particularly influenced by gender construction and intimate partner violence and stalking victimization. It is concluded that accurate and consistent measures need to be created for each of the components of the threat of victimization to facilitate validity, replication and comparison. As well, (in)vulnerability linked to masculinity and femininity, appear to have negative implications for both women and men in relation to the threat of victimization, which need to be addressed through education and active resistance.
Fear of crime, Threat of victimization, Social construction of gender, Intimate partner violence