The universally accepted definition as declared by United Nations (UN) regarding “victims of crime” states that “people who have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws”.

So, a victim of crime is the individual who has suffered harm physically, mentally or financially because of crimes that would include physical or sexual assault, domestic violence, aggravated burglary, armed robbery, threats to kill, stalking, child abuse and so on.  A person can also be a victim of a crime if he/she has witnessed an offense or any criminal accident where the person has suffered any kind of harm.

As per the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which conducts survey every year in order to determine the potential threat and real altitude of crime being reported to the legal authorities, approximately 30% of the entire Australian population ranging from the age of 15 years and above are reported being victims of crime (robbery, burglary, attempted burglary, car theft, car vandalism, bicycle theft, sexual assault, theft from car, theft of personal property, assault and threats).

The prevalence of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in victims of crime depends on accurately examining the nature of offense, the processes of the medical diagnosis, and the systems of measurement used. Therefore, PTSD cannot be considered for all victims of crime. The medical diagnosis and analysis is only valid in those cases where the crime represents a relative traumatic event which involves an interpersonal and violent act. In is suggested that around 4% of the Australian population who are the victims of crime may go on to develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health estimates that the life span PTSD prevalence rate for victims of crime is approximately 27 per cent with the higher rates of 45-60% are followed by interpersonal crimes such as rape in women.

Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder puts forward that PTSD in victims of crime is often a misguidedly diagnosed. It has been reported that the judgments are frequently concluded on the basis of the type of event or the incident leading to treatment, rather than the genuine diagnosis with the proper presentation of the symptoms that sustain PTSD criteria. And ultimately it has been found that victims of crime are more likely to suffer from depression rather than PTSD.

There are various reactions to crimes related to PTSD as every individual is distinctively unique and so are their experiences. Therefore, alertness and the understanding of the mental health practitioners with proficient knowledge of legal systems are significantly vital when treating victims of crime with PTSD. In Australia, the laws and the rights of people pertaining to victims of crime differ from one state to another. But there are common approaches and mechanisms similar to every state in which the victims of crime can have the direct access to mental treatment programs or claim the compensation relating to their victimization.

For victims of crime support and advice call 1800 000 055 or go to or email:

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