Extemsive research has been conducted regarding factors contributing to the breakdown of marriage, focusing on problems such as infidelity, domestic violence, money problems and mid-life crises. This study explores a new question: does crime victimization contribute to the dissolution of marriage? Unique information from a national panel survey, the National Crime Victimization Survey, was analyzed in a longitudinal format to determine whether married crime victims were more likely than non-victims to become divorced or separated in the six to twelve months following the crime. Logistic regression analysis indicated that crime victims were generally more likely to experience marital disruption. Robbery victims were 2.7 times more likely (significantly so) than non-victims to be divorced or separated within six to twelve months of the crime, while this risk was non-significantly higher for burglary, assault, and theft victims. Those victimized by their spouse were nearly nine times more likely to later be divorced or separated. Assault victimization had a more detrimental impact on marriage for women than for men. Otherwise, the effects of victimization were similar for men and women. Although it has been speculated that sexual assault could jeopardize marriages because some husbands would view their victimized wives as ‘damaged goods’, we found no significant effect on marital disruption. We speculate that men in recent times may have become less likely to devalue victimized women in this way.
- marital disruption
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science