The role of perceived social support in crime victimization

Marie Bee Hui Yap, Grant James Devilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


There has been extensive research into social support (SS) and trauma, but there remains a paucity of knowledge concerning the dynamics of these factors with respect to victims of crime. This review considers the temporal dimension of SS or perceived social support (PSS) in particular, conceptualizing it as an endogenous, dynamic resource Lepore et al. [J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 61 (1991) 899] that can be depleted by chronic stressors. Based on a discussion of existing research, an explanation is proposed for the inconsistent findings of PSS as a moderator to distress in some cases and a mediator in others. In particular, some researchers have posited that since PSS can deteriorate, it can lose its buffering capacity and thus qualitatively change in its role from a stress moderator to a mediator in the stress-distress relationship. From a review of the literature, it would seem that PSS can act as a moderator of distress in the early stages, but that as the stressors become numerous or chronic PSS turns into a mediator between the stressor and psychological distress. This article applies such a dynamic perspective of PSS to victims of crime and argues that one s perspective of victim status may be well served by taking into account the history of victimization and trauma that these individuals have experienced. It is proposed that a history of chronic exposure to victimization or trauma erodes victims perceptions of the SS available to them. In turn, these low levels of PSS result in higher levels of distress experienced in the face of subsequent victimization or trauma. The implications of a dynamic perspective of SS and victimization for research and practical interventions for victims of crime are discussed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 14
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

Cite this