Patient experiences of victimisation during mandatory psychiatric treatment

Authors Nienke Verstegen, Nienke Peters-Scheffer, Robert Didden, Henk Nijman, Vivienne de Vogel
Published in Journal of Forensic Psychology Research & Practice
Publication date 2022
Research groups Working with Mandated Clients
Type Article


Forensic psychiatric inpatients are frequently exposed to aggression from fellow patients during their treatment, but research on how this impacts patients’ well-being and treatment progress is lacking. In this study, we interviewed nine patients on their experiences of victimization during mandatory psychiatric treatment. The interviews were analyzed using a Grounded Theory approach combined with elements from Consensual Qualitative Research and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three main themes emerged from the data, namely situational descriptives, intrapersonal and interpersonal consequences. Patients were not only exposed to both physical violence and verbal aggression by other patients, but also to a more ubiquitous flow of micro- aggressive comments. Options to escape these situations were limited. This means that victimization processes, which for most patients started much earlier in life, continue during forensic psychiatric treatment. Intrapersonal consequences include fear, hypervigilance, reactive aggression, flashbacks and avoidance and withdrawal. Interpersonal consequences include increased power differences between patients and adverse treatment consequences, such as difficulties with self-esteem. Victimization processes are not always timely noticed in an environment that focuses on risks and treatment of delinquent behavior. A higher level of trauma sensitivity in forensic mental health care is thus required. Recommendations for the implementation of trauma informed care are provided.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Journal of Forensic Psychology Research & Practice
Key words victimization, inpatient, aggression, forensic, psychiatry, justice-involved, persons, qualitative study