A victim is a natural person who has suffered harm (including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss) directly caused by a criminal offence – regardless of whether an offender is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted, and regardless of the familial relationship between them. This definition also covers family members of a deceased victim who have suffered harm because of the person’s death directly caused by a criminal offence.

In relation to violence against women, the term ‘victim’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘survivor’. However, the term victim has been subject to criticism as it denies agency to women subjected to gender-based violence, in particular victims of rape. It has thus been suggested that the term survivor should be used. The debates in relation to this terminology are ongoing.

Note: Despite the current debates on terms ‘victim’ and ‘survivor’ − for the sake of clarity and consistency − in all definitions in the Gender Equality Glossary related to gender-based violence we use term ‘victim’ as the same term is used in European and international sources.

See also: survivor

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(1) European Commission (2013). Guidance document related to the transposition and implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA; (2) European Parliament, Policy Department C: Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs (2013). Overview of the Worldwide Best Practices for Rape Prevention and for Assisting Women Victims of Rape; (3) EIGE experts.