Library  »  Learn with the Library  »  April 2020 Virtual Journal Club Session

April 2020 Virtual Journal Club Session

shutterstock_200247056 young woman reading article resized

Welcome to the Center for Victim Research Virtual Journal Club for April 2020. (Learn more about the journal club and sign up to join us!)


For this session, our theme is Cybervictimization and Virtual Victim Services. We read:

  • “Digital poly-victimization: The increasing importance of online crime and harassment to the burden of victimization” by S. Hamby, Z. Blount, A. Smith, L. Jones, K. Mitchell, & E. Taylor. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 2018, vol. 19 no. 3, 382-398. (Abstract)
  • Search the CVR Library for digital poly-victimization to find the full-text article. Let us know if you cannot access the article.


Quick Tips on Reading Research Articles

  1. Research articles typically follow a similar format: Abstract, Introduction, Methods/Procedures, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions/Implications (more details on these sections on the following pages). Some researchers suggest starting with the abstract and discussion sections, followed by the introduction. Reading an article in this order can clarify the study’s purpose and findings, before focusing on the more technical results and methods sections.
  2. Look for phrases like “we hypothesize” or “a goal of this study was” that alert you to the article’s main points.
  3. Review charts and diagrams closely for results.
  4. Ask yourself questions about the researchers’ approaches and their interpretations of results. For example, what was the scope of the research questions, and did the methods include diverse participants? These inquiries can help you think about how the results might apply outside of the study sample.
  5. Take notes as you read and look up terms you don’t know. The CVR glossary can be a good starting place for definitions of research words frequently used in victim research.



Discussions on this post will be open from April 27-May 1, 2020. Login to and return to this post to add your comments below.


Twitter Chat

We hosted a Twitter chat with Dr. Sherry Hamby on Wednesday April 29, 2-3pm EST. Catch up on the conversation!


Discussion Prompts

Respond to any or all of the following prompts and add any other reactions you had while reading this article. Throughout the week, come back to read and respond others’ comments.

  • What surprised you or resonated with you from the “Digital Poly-victimization” article?
  • How is the population studied in the “Digital Poly-victimization” article similar or dissimilar to the victims you work with (or that you research)? How do the findings relate to your current practice?
  •  The “Digital Poly-victimization” study involved several different measures to examine the impact on victims; what did you find noteworthy about those measures?
  • Looking at the Strengths and Limitations and the Research and Clinical Implications sections of the “Digital Poly-victimization” article, where would you like to see the research go from here?
  • What are other types of digital victimization do you think should be studied? Which online services or interventions would you like to see evaluated?
Tags: , , ,

7 responses to “April 2020 Virtual Journal Club Session”

  1. Laura Puls says:

    Welcome to our first week of Journal Club! I can kick off the discussion. Throughout this article, I’m grateful that the researchers recognize that it isn’t possible to “just get offline” to avoid digital victimization, as more and more of our work and social lives take place online. I resonated with the practice implications about media training to help prevent digital victimization. Information literacy is a continual theme in my work as a librarian (and as a person frequently online.). Taking a minute to ask myself “who is telling me this, why, and what do other sources say?” helps me stop from clicking on weird links or getting too upset about untrue information. However, when I’m in a hurry or tired, it is much harder to think about those things. Hackers depend on playing my emotions and sense of urgency to get that click. Related to the study’s digital poly-victimization scale, this item stood out to me: “I have been upset by the amount of information that I have to share to get apps or programs I need.” I’m frustrated by how much personal information is collected by companies, but this information-sharing also feels inevitable/inescapable. I hope future research can discuss effective strategies for protecting personal information while still being able to use websites and apps that ask for this information.

  2. Elynne Greene says:

    I think you have some really good points about how people are “lured” into online scams and the sites that collect personal information. it is the internet, so we don’t always know what to believe. Is it legit or a scam??? I think another challenge that this article brought up for me is the fact that state laws regarding online threats, harassment, stalking and bullying has not caught up to the realities of the crime. Therefore, it is often underreported.

  3. Alice Theresa Connors says:

    1. What resonated with me from the DPV article is: The anonymity that cybercriminals utilize to victimize has allowed them to increase their predator behaviors immensely. For far too long, victims have been minimized for vocalizing the terrorizing experiences they incur due to the lack of cyber knowledge within our communities, law enforcement and our legal system. Anonymity leads to unaccountability which results in higher rates of victimization. & trauma. While the article mentions the challenges of rapidly changing technology, I think that one must be reminded that abuse is still the same. The foundation is rooted in the cycle of abuse. It is therefore easy to predict that as technology grows at rapid rates so too will utilization of these tools to further victimize. With increased tools and the predicable societal mantra that the victim is responsible we can only expect that the abuse will grow exponentially. Perpetrators who are not held accountable will utilize these additional tools to increase the abuse resulting in the victims suffering higher rates of anxiety, depression and PTSD. These diagnoses will be coupled with health and substance use disorders.
    2. What surprised me from this article is the statement: According to Internet Crime Complaint, 2014 – High rates of digital victimization are well known. The fact that people are filing their complaints on internet crime and that local law enforcement and courts are still in the dark about the existence of cyberstalking is amazing to me. Police refuse to take crime reports on stalking even when there is a current restraining order. Telling Victims to contact them when the Perpetrator is outside.
    3. The populations studied are similar to Victims I worked with and researched is the high prevalence rate of DV. Early childhood abuse creates a foundation whereby a victim questions their role in the abuse. They somehow feel responsible and so it is easy for an abuser and others to convenience the Victim that they are accountable for what is happening. Hence the Victim tries to do better and this makes them even more vulnerable to the abuse. This can be seen in in-person abuse and exploitation. Cyberbullying is a great example of how the in-person abuse becomes 24×7.
    4. Pertaining to Strengths and Limitations – I believe that the inclusion of ACES and assessment speak to the strong roots that are formed in early childhood. The roots of domestic violence and sexual assault are strong determinates of future vulnerabilities. I believe that limitations in this article pertained to the population studied. While the study demonstrates the prevalence of digital poly-victimization in the rural communities, I think expanding the study to include urban areas, diverse ethnic groups, and various income ranges will further document how expansive this issue is.
    5. Another type of digital victimization that is in dire need of studies is specifically Cyberstalking. Stalking is a crime that invades every aspect of a Victims life. Security protocols are manipulated to spy on the victim instead of protect them. Cells phones track the location of the Victim 24×7, x-box and smart tv’s are turned on to record the victim, emails are hacked to monitor Victim communications and travel plans. The victims is monitored at home, at work, and even as they walk down the street. Every aspect of the victims live is watched. All Victim verbal communications are recorded. Victims are sometimes threatened with crimes they did not commit as evidence is doctored against them. Many law enforcement agencies say they do not have the budget to investigate cyberstalking cases and so they refuse to even take a criminal report even when there is a restraining order in effect. Anonymity is the protection of the abuser, stating that there is no evidence of any foul play on their part. The Perp goes free to increase their tactics. All of this results in the Victim feeling helpless to stop or have anyone help in stopping the invisible criminal. This leads to downward spirals of depression, anxiety and constant triggering of PTSD when having to confront the reality of stalking and the inability to take back control of their life. Many stalking victims end up locked in their homes alone in fear. The spiral can result in them losing their jobs, relocating to hide, hypervigilance which further produces outcomes of mental and physical health issues, substance use disorders and early death.

    I would like to see/participate in research on Domestic Violence and Cyberstalking. Much of this research can be done through the Family Justice Centers, Victim Service Agencies and DOJ. Research needs to be done on the number of DV/IPV restraining orders which allegate stalking, the number of renewals and the length of terms. Additionally on the law enforcement criminal reports and investigations of violations of restraining orders. I believe that people who are experiencing DV do not understand what DV is. However with training they can come to learn that may of the experiences they are having are under the purview of DV. Prevention programs can be developed to assist people in the recognition of DV and Interventions to help people unlearn these tools. The foundational roots of DV grows into many modalities all of which lead to abuse.

    • Laura Puls says:

      Alice, I too was struck by the very first paragraphs of the article, about how in-person behavior cues can sometimes inhibit violence. Online, victimizing others may feel “easier” without those cues, with the ability to target multiple people at once, and with reduced risk for the offender of retaliation/being caught. Like you said, online victimization isn’t often taken as seriously by the criminal justice system! What sticks out to me from your comments is the reminder that the basic dynamics of abusive behavior remain the same even with changing tools for extending the abuse to constant surveillance. You’re so right about the mental health consequences of such behaviors and the feelings victims may have about being “complicit” in their victimization because they shared their personal information or used social media, etc.

  4. Brandie Marie Smith says:

    I think it’s a great start I definitely think that there needs to be more research studies and actual actions for victims whether it be domestic violence victims of homicide in particularly there needs to be something done about people being able to access resources in communities making sure that they have resources for certain survivors and victims and knowledge bases because right now there’s nothing simple for victim to go and find to get help especially victims that develop PTSD due to trauma and people wonder why there’s such a stigma behind PTSD and trauma victims online bullying everything we really got to dive in and figure out how to gain better access for victims for these resources and come up with more resources

    • Laura Puls says:

      Yes, it is important to recognize what victims are already trying to protect themselves and to provide additional support for more technologically advanced strategies, especially when they are trying to leave a relationship or protect their whereabouts or economic resources from their abusers. While reading this article, I also read “Fighting fire with fire: Exploring the potential of technology to help victims combat intimate partner violence” which provided a lot of helpful resources on what victims and victim services are already doing to harness technology for safety and empowerment: I’m also encouraged that social media has seemed to help reduce some stigma of trauma, as more people share their stories and find each other and know they are not alone.

Leave a Reply