The differential risk of retaliation by relational distance: A more general model of violent victimization

Laura Dugan, Robert Apel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This research attempts to elaborate a routine activity model of violent victimization by incorporating an explicit rational choice perspective on potential targets' decision making to avoid violent encounters. We propose that the costs associated with a violent attack and the probability of offender retaliation depend on whether the offender's targeting strategy is opportunistic or deliberate-a function of the relational distance between the offender and target. Specifically, we propose that victim efforts to limit exposure to an offender may motivate a violent retaliatory response when the victim and offender are intimates compared to when they are strangers. We develop hypotheses based on these ideas and test them using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (1992-2000). The results suggest that female targets are more sensitive to an offender's targeting strategy than are males. We conclude with a discussion of how knowledge of the potential risk of violent retaliation on the part of intimate and spousal offenders can be used to create more efficacious policies to protect victims of violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-730
Number of pages34
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


  • Rational choice
  • Relational distance
  • Routine activities
  • Violent victimization

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