Personal Vulnerability to Victimization of People with Mental Retardation

Ted Nettelbeck, Carlene Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


People with mental retardation are more vulnerable to victimization. This is a consequence of cultural, institutional, and other environmental circumstances but may include victim characteristics. To recognize this is not ‘to blame the victim.’ Instead, acknowledgment can help identify contributory factors and improve understanding of why victimization occurs. Consistent with this viewpoint, recent research has found that although IQ and adaptive skills did not distinguish victims from nonvictims, victims reported aggressive, confrontational tendencies and acquiescing to unreasonable requests. The authors therefore advocate an interactive schema of victimization that extends current theory, which has primarily limited focus to contributory environmental factors. Some individual risk variables cannot be changed (intellectual disabilities) or are difficult to change (living situation). However, other victim characteristics reflecting interpersonal competence should be amenable to behavioral intervention. Identifying potential victim characteristics and training before victimization occurs may reduce incidence of victimization and guide development of protective procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-306
Number of pages18
JournalTrauma, Violence, & Abuse
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • abuse
  • behavioral intervention
  • disabilities
  • facilitation
  • mental retardation
  • victimization
  • vulnerability


Dive into the research topics of 'Personal Vulnerability to Victimization of People with Mental Retardation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this