Most research on victimization tries to explain why some people are more likely than others to be the targets of physical and social aggression, and what the consequences are for victims. In physical victimization, victims’ bodies are attacked via pushing, hitting, strangling, and so on. Social victimization involves emotional hurt caused by exclusion, malicious gossip, taunting, or other forms of verbal or nonverbal ostracism and rejection. Victimization is fairly common and occurs in all life stages. This entry focuses only on victimization that is serious because it is deeply felt or has other grave consequences; it does not discuss brief episodes that leave little or no mark.

Much victimization occurs within families. Estimates of the prevalence of within-family victimization vary widely due to varying definitions

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