Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Psych professor studies crime victims

photo portrait

Anne DePrince wants to learn why some crime victims become victimized again. PHOTO BY: Wayne Armstrong.

Anne DePrince, an assistant professor in DU’s Department of Psychology, wants to change the phenomenon of revictimization — a victim of violent crime being victimized again.

A 1995 British Crime Survey found that 3 percent of adult victims accounted for 73 percent of violent crime victimizations. 

“Our ultimate hope is to find common risk factors so we can translate that information into intervention,” DePrince says. “However, let’s remember that regardless of the findings, the victim is never to blame; the responsibility for the crime lies solely on the person who chose to commit it.” 

Now DePrince is teaming up with the Denver Police Department and the Denver district attorney’s office to learn why revictimization occurs. 

The study will include women ages of 18–40 who were victims of physical or sexual assault, including domestic violence. They will participate in two sessions, completing a variety of games and tasks to measure attention and memory. DePrince has tested about 30 women but needs a total of 96 for the study to be thorough. 

The Denver Police Department’s Victim Assistance Unit is on board, sending out flyers to victims within 72 hours of a crime. 

“We want to understand the factors that contribute to crime in order to help us to initiate a plan for intervention, strategic prevention and public education,” says Scott Snow, director of the Victim Assistance Unit.

DU graduate student Ann Chu says the relationships that DePrince has made not only benefit the community organizations, but also her students. Through DePrince’s work, Chu has conducted more than 200 interviews with trauma victims.

“It’s been one of the most valuable experiences for me as a researcher and clinician,” says Chu, who is pursuing a doctorate in child clinical psychology. “Anne showed us it’s not just about publishing academic work. The research has real benefit for people and it should reach them through community networks.”

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