Polyvictimization is experience of multiple, different kind victimizations that range from child maltreatment to school bullying and beyond. Polytraumatization includes trauma that are not limited to interpersonal abuse, for example, car accidents, natural disasters etc. These concepts are in turn related to cumulative harm and multi-type maltreatment which are discussed later in the article. Polyvictimization and polytraumatization highlights the shift in abuse research and practice from single trauma to multiple trauma analysis which significantly impacts forensic and clinical judgment on causality of post-traumatic reactions.
On the other hand, legal professionals in different countries still ask mental health practitioners to identify specific emotional consequences that are linked to specific civil and/or criminal case. Whether it is called psychological damage, psychological injury, sequela etc. – legal specialists want and need to prove causal relations between wrongful act and psychological injury. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to make a strict judgment on sequela causality if polyvictimization is identified.
The current article explains several theoretical notions regarding polyvictimization and emphasizes implications that need to be taken in to account when conducting abuse research and clinical and/or forensic victim assessment. Latvian legal system and practical problems in forensic psychological and psychiatric expertise is briefly discussed.
Keyword(s): polyvictimization, polytraumatization, multitype maltreatment, cumulative harm, forensic assessment.