14. Victimology

Dr. Jordana K. Norgaard, BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

Positionality Statement

My name is Jordana Norgaard, and my background is primarily English and Scottish (or at least that’s what my ancestry results showed). I was born and raised on the unceded traditional, ancestral, and occupied lands of the Coast Salish Peoples including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) Nations, in Vancouver, British Columbia.  I attended Simon Fraser University to originally pursue a career as a history teacher.  However, my plans changed after I took my first criminology course.  I immediately fell in love with the discipline and knew I had to switch majors.  I eventually found myself in graduate school, earning a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology.  My research focused on transit environments, crime prevention, and victimology.  As I started to teach, I recognized that victims and/or survivors of crime were often overlooked throughout the criminal justice system.  I found myself more drawn to find ways to empower survivors of crime by doing more than teach.  I decided to leave academia and began working as a policy analyst for the provincial government in BC.  My work helps provide a voice to survivors who are most vulnerable by researching strategies and initiatives to help provide direct support to those impacted by gender-based violence, human trafficking and much more.  I recognize the immense privilege I hold as a white and educated female. I aim to write from a perspective of compassion, understanding, and respect.  I hope for all of those reading, you come away with more insight about the role victims and/or survivors hold in the criminal justice system and to show kindness towards those who bravely re-tell their experiences of victimization in hopes of making the future safer.

Dr. Benjamin Roebuck, Victimology Research Centre, Algonquin College

Positionality Statement

My name is Benjamin Roebuck, and my family history is rooted in white, settler-colonialism. My father’s British ancestors settled on Mi’kmaq lands on the east coast in the late 1700’s, and my mother immigrated from the United Kingdom with her family when she was a child. I respectfully acknowledge that I was born and raised on the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg, which includes Curve Lake First Nation, Alderville First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, and the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. Settlers renamed the Nogojiwanong area, meaning “place at the end of the rapids,” to Peterborough, and anglicized the Odenabe river to Otonabee. As an adult, I have lived and worked on the traditional unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin People. The Algonquin word adawe, meaning “to trade,” is believed to be the origin of the name Ottawa, which was used by settlers to refer to the people who hunted and traded along the Kichi Sibi, meaning “great river.” I acknowledge the pain and victimization Indigenous Peoples have experienced through policy and legislation imposed from this region by the Government of Canada. In my extended family, through adoption or marriage, I have witnessed the intergenerational harms of colonization, and the beauty and resilience of Indigenous cultures and teachings. I am grateful to Indigenous Elders, friends, and family members who have generously shared their wisdom. May I honour these teachings and partner in the work of reconciliation with humility.



Victimology is the scientific study of victimisation within society. It is a grounded social science derived from the narratives and experiences of survivors of crime and, like criminology, it explores broader social questions about how people come to experience violence, how those experiences are understood within society, and the imbalance of power between the various actors in the criminal justice system. Victimology should not be defined as the study of “victims.” This would be akin to describing criminology as the study of “criminals” without acknowledging the value-laden nature of the word and the power dynamics that shape its use. Victimology is often understood as emerging as a sub-discipline of criminology, and later emerging as a distinct yet overlapping discipline exploring a different set of questions than criminologists (Spencer & Walklate, 2016; Wemmers, 2017). Victimology research often identifies and defines types of victimisation, explores how they are measured, and examines relationships between victims and perpetrators and the experiences of survivors in the criminal justice system, victim services, and society (Karmen, 2020). The World Society of Victimology brings together international academics and practitioners to advance the scientific study of victimisation and to advocate for improvements to victim rights.

In this chapter, our discussion will focus on crime victims and the role they have within both the criminal event and the criminal justice system.  We will examine theories that help explain why some victimisation occurs, followed by the advantages and limitations of measuring victimisation.  Our discussion will also provide an overview of victim rights in Canada, along with a discussion on the types of victim assistance and services available to victims of crime and survivor reactions to services. We will profile victimisation reports that focus on Indigenous Peoples and provide a link to a documentary that explores racism in the criminal justice system.


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Introduction to Criminology Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Shereen Hassan and Dan Lett, MA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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