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Hate Crimes

Secondary victimization as a Bias Crime

Rape as a hate crime



The Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation states that "A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a:


Hate crimes involving sexual assault can be based on any of the above criteria. One of the lesser known types of hate crime is a bias crime against someone with a disability.

"Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a stress-related psychological disorder that can cause its victims great problems in coping with daily life." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia

Rape in and of itself is not a bias crime but mistreating people because they are suffering from rape trauma syndrome is.

Stigmas such as suffering from rape related PTSD result in the person being devalued, lowered in status, stereotyped and victimized by prejudice and discrimination. (Margulis, 2003) They also result in further breaches of privacy because the unstigmatized treat them as objects of curiosity. If the subject is unable to handle these social interactions they feel embarrassed and unwanted. (Margulis, 2003) This is known as secondary victimization or victim blame.

Most people do not understand what RTS (rape trauma syndrome) is or know what the symptoms are. It can be a difficult thing to comprehend if you have never heard of it before. Dissociative identity disorder in particular is usually not spoken about openly. That does not mean people you know aren't suffering from it. PTSD is a more commonly recognized aspect of rape trauma syndrome. Other disorders associated with sexual assault are OCD, Eating disorders and Self injury. The invisibility of the rape survivor community and the general ignorance of the nature of rape trauma syndrome and PTSD contribute to the frequency of hate crimes and hate speech against rape survivors. The public's unfamiliarity with dissociation, dissociative identity disorder, self injury and other disabilities suffered by rape victims may be a contributing factor.

Bias crimes against members of a certain community are also a problem for rape survivors. The rape survivor community is considered to be nearly invisible to society at large. This contrasts with the estimation that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 6 college aged women will be sexually assaulted within their lifetimes. The survivor community is a tolerant community which is visible through the international network of online support groups. Members maintain social support networks and personal websites which interlink with one another.

Rape survivor community testimonials

Secondary victimization testimonials


Online resources

Hate Crimes - Why You Should Care


Discriminating against someone who is suffering from a disability (such as a mental illness) has been considered a bias crime since 1994.


Hate crimes information from RAINN


"Women: Many believe that all violence against women, including rape and sexual assault, is a hate crime because it is not simply a violent act, but is "an act of misogyny, or hatred of women" (Copeland & Wolfe, 1991)...An individual may not only experience the reactions that often follow a rape or sexual assault, he or she may also suffer from additional effects brought on by the attack on their identity...Research has shown that it can take as much as five years for victims of hate crimes to overcome the emotional and psychological distress caused by such an attack"


Don't Ask, Tell or Respond: Silent Acceptance of Disability Hate Crimes


"When I think of disability hate crimes I am reminded of the song “Mister Cellophane” from the musical Chicago. Disability hate crimes could be regarded as ‘cellophane crimes’: people walk right through them, look right through them, and never know they are there. In Somerville, Massachusetts on October 24th, 2 deaf girls were raped by gang members. One of these girls had cerebral palsy. A few weeks later then on Saturday 9th of November, another deaf girl was raped, again by gang members. Again, this week, another deaf woman was raped in the Boston area. While I don’t wish to examine any of these cases in particular, I want to raise the question: when the circumstances indicate that such crimes may be neither random nor circumstantial, why has no one suggested these may be hate crimes? "


Hate Crimes Today: An Age-Old Foe In Modern Dress


"We know from social science research that the pervasive stigma that people apply to both mental and physical disability is expressed in many forms of discriminatory behaviors and practices, including increased risk for sexual and physical abuse."

"Hate crimes are message crimes. They are different from other crimes in that the offender is sending a message to members of a certain group that they are unwelcome. Preliminary research indicates that hate crimes have more serious psychological effects than non-bias motivated crimes."



"Congress amended the Hate Crimes Statistics Act in 1994 to add disabilities as a category for which hate crimes data are to be collected. ...we know from social science research that the pervasive stigma that people apply to both mental and physical disability is expressed in many forms of discriminatory behaviors and practices, including increased risk for sexual and physical abuse. The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a national organization representing low-income adults and children with mental disabilities, holds that such hate crimes are motivated by the perception that people with disabilities are not equal, deserving, contributing members of society, and, therefore, it is okay to attack them."


Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation


Regarding disability bias hate crimes: "Of the 73 victims of this type of bias, 49 were the subjects of a bias against a mental disability."


Mental Health Services for Rape Survivors

For sexual assault survivors "these negative experiences have been termed "the second rape" ( Madigan & Gamble, 1991 ), "the second assault" ( Martin & Powell, 1994 ), or "secondary victimization" ( Campbell & Raja, 1999 ; Campbell et al., 1999 ; Williams, 1984 ). Campbell et al. ( 1999 ) found that victims of non-stranger rape (e.g., acquaintance rape and date rape) were at particular risk for secondary victimization, which was related to increased psychological distress and delayed recovery."


Secondary Victimization from the Criminal Justice System and Society


Secondary victimization of rape victims: insights from mental health professionals who treat survivors of violence


Secondary Victimization



Journal articles


Campbell, R., (2001). Preventing the 'Second Rape': Rape Survivors' Experiences with Community Service Providers. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 16 (12) 1239-1259. Find this in a library


"Although prevention efforts aimed at eliminating the occurrence of sexual assault are clearly needed, it is also important to consider how we can prevent further trauma among those already victimized. Prior research suggests that rape survivors may experience victim-blaming treatment from system personnel (termed secondary victimization or the second rape). This research examined how postassault contact with community systems exacerbated rape victims' psychological and physical health distress. Findings revealed that the majority of rape survivors who reported their assault to the legal or medical system did not receive needed services. These difficulties with service delivery were associated with both perceived and objective measures of negative health outcomes. Contact with the mental health system, rape crisis centers, or religious communities was generally perceived by victims as beneficial. This study suggests that the trauma of rape extends far beyond the assault itself, as negative community responses can significantly elevate distress."


Hate Crimes and Disability in America

"the findings and their implications for such issues as alternative manifestations of prejudice, underreporting of violent crimes, cross-disability support for hate crime prevention, rehabilitation counseling practice, and future research directions are discussed."


Examining the Boundaries of Hate Crime Law: Disabilities and the "Dilemma of Difference"

Grattet and Jenness find that "Persons with disabilities represent one of the largest minority groups in the United States. Recent research suggests that the multitude of ways that persons with disabilities are victimized is pronounced and increasing. However, social scientists and policymakers have largely overlooked persons with disabilities." (Grattet & Jenness 2001) Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology NCJRS



Books and reference


The Oxford English Dictionary defines a hate crime as:

* Hate crime -orig. U.S., a crime, usually violent, motivated by hatred or intolerance of another social group, esp. on the basis of race or sexuality; crime of this type; freq. attrib. (occas. in pl.), designating legislation, etc., framed to address such crime.

* Hate speech -orig. U.S., speech expressing hatred or intolerance of other social groups, esp. on the basis of race or sexuality; hostile verbal abuse (though the term is sometimes understood to encompass written and non-verbal forms of expression). Find this in a library


Madigan, L. and Gamble, N. (1991). The Second Rape: Society's Continued Betrayal of the Victim. New York: Lexington Books. Find this in a library


Hate Crimes bibliography

Hate crime references


Resources to research this subject:

Rape as a hate crime

Journals and articles

Search the NCJRS Abstracts Database

Google scholar or Findarticles

Finding books at the library

Online Libraries on sexual assault

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Search terms: Hate crimes; Minorities ; Bias crimes ; Rape victims ; The second rape ; Rape survivors ; Sexual assault or rape ; Break the silence ; Handicapped persons ; Discrimination ; Crimes against persons/ ; State laws ; Physically handicapped ; Mentally handicapped ; Socially handicapped ; Discrimination against disabld prsns; Filial violence ; Personal interviews ; Victims of violence ; Gender issues


Related links: Victim blame, Secondary victimization

The Just World Theory

Beyond rape myths: A more complex view of perceptions of rape victims

Benevolent sexism and reactions to rape victims

Examples of secondary victimization - also known as survivor bashing:

Secondary victimization and survivor bashing reports

The Second Rape

He told everybody it was consensual- a survivor's story

Survivor's stories

What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

Victims of Crime with disabilities


The Resources Database contains information on products and services focused on victims of crime with disabilities. Enter a word or phrase to start searching or refine your search by making selections from the given options.

If someone verbally or physically harasses a rape victim or survivor (known as secondary victimization, survivor bashing or the second rape) it may be considered a hate/bias crime or hate speech. For immediate victim assistance call 206-350-4283 or 1 800-879-6682 24 hours a day or fill out this online hate crime report form. This topic is related to the just world theory and victim blame.




"post-traumatic stress disorder." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Scholastic Library Publishing, 2006 <http://gme.grolier.com> (January 6, 2006).

Margulis, S. (2003). On the status and contribution of westin's and altman's theories of privacy. Journal of Social Issues, 59 (2) 411-429.

Margulis, S. (2003). Privacy as a social issue and behavioral concept. Journal of Social Issues, 59.



Please learn about rape trauma syndrome and it's symptoms before you say or do something to hurt those suffering from it.


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