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Reappraising and Redirecting Research on the Victim-Offender Overlap

NCJ Number
Trauma Violence & Abuse Volume: 21 Issue: 1 Dated: 2020 Pages: 16-30
Date Published
15 pages

This literature review used a narrative review methodology to critically reappraise the theoretical, empirical, and methodological research on the victim–offender overlap and offers directions for ways forward to develop a more comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon.


The strong positive association between offending and victimization, or the victim–offender overlap, has received considerable research attention in recent years. Empirical research has made important strides in unpacking the sources of the phenomenon, but important questions remain unanswered. Ambiguity surrounds the utility of certain theoretical explanations for the overlap, the nature of the phenomenon, and the methodological tools used to examine its etiology. Owing to these knowledge gaps, the scientific meaning of the victim–offender overlap is unclear. Moreover, many potentially important theoretical arguments have rarely been subjected to empirical testing in this line of research. The current review critically analyzed 78 academic publications, along with a table that summarizes the key findings and conclusions from 18 critical empirical studies that have contributed to the understanding of the victim–offender overlap. Recommendations are offered for the continued development of theoretical and methodological tools to better understand this complex phenomenon. 1 table and 86 references (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020