Victim survey 2011

Project period

2010 – 2013

Project staff

Prof. Dr. Christian Pfeiffer

Dr. Deborah F. Hellmann (geb. Thoben)

Dr. Steffen Bieneck

Dr. Lena Stadler

Dipl. Psych. Vivien Völklin


Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Project description

With the increased disclosure in 2010 of sexual abuse cases in schools and religious institutions, a lack of research in the area of child sexual abuse has become apparent. As the victimisation survey conducted by KFN in 1992 is the most recent and is also only German study on child sexual abuse based on a representative sample to date, and due to the fact that in Germany no current, representative and scientifically founded research results were available on child sexual abuse, KFN replicated and expanded its study from 1992. The 2011 study provides current and comprehensive findings on five types of (intra-familial) violence. To illustrate experience of child sexual abuse and its consequences and risk factors, including revictimisation in adulthood, the study focused on the following areas:

  • Child sexual abuse
  • Intra-familial violence and neglect in early childhood and adolescence
  • Physical violence between couples
  • Rape (both within and outside a relationship/marriage)
  • Parental discipline methods
  • Stalking

The first five of these topics were already included in the 1992 study, thus allowing for longitudinal comparisons in areas such as the prevalence and severity of child sexual abuse, changes in the types of intra-familial violence over the years between the two studies and the risk factors and constellations that (still) exist. In addition, stalking, which had only been added in 2007 to the German penal code (§ 238 StGB), was incorporated into the current study as a sixth research topic. This made it the first large-scale empirical study in Germany to provide data on stalking based on a representative sample.

Providing empirically founded knowledge of risk factors and situations for child sexual abuse as well as revictimisation through physical and/or sexual violence and stalking in adult relationships, the results of this self-report study have great relevance for the development of intensified and more targeted prevention and intervention strategies. Also, being designed as a replication of a former survey, the study offers the opportunity to indirectly evaluate public awareness of, the application and the effects of three legislative changes made in the meantime, namely the criminalisation of marital rape, the abolition of the right to exercise corporal punishment and the Protection From Violence Act. Comparison of the data from 1992 and 2011 thus allowed conclusions to be drawn as to whether the prevalence rates of the respective victimisation experiences have decreased since the new legislation went into effect and whether the victims’ reporting behaviour has changed since. Insights were also gained regarding awareness, use and application of the provision in the penal code making stalking a criminal offence from 2007.

Project related publications
  • Baier, D., & Pfeiffer, C. (Eds.). (2016). Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zur kriminologischen Forschung: Vol. 48. Representative Studies on Victimisation: Research Findings from Germany. Baden-Baden: Nomos.
  • Hellmann, D. F., & Pfeiffer, C. (2015). Epidemiologie und Strafverfolgung sexueller Gewalt gegen Frauen in Deutschland. Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform, 98, 527–542.
  • Hellmann, D.F. (2014). Repräsentativbefragung zu Viktimisierungserfahrungen in Deutschland (KFN-Forschungsbericht; Nr.: 122). Hannover: KFN. Download (PDF)
  • Hellmann, D.F., Regler, C. (2014). Stalking und seine Folgen: Empirische Ergebnisse zu Beeinträchtigungen infolge von Stalking. In M.A. Niggli, M. Lukas (Hrsg.) Risiken der Sicherheitsgesellschaft – Sicherheit, Risiko und Kriminalpolitik (318-330). Godesberg: Forum Verlag.