Silent Crisis: Unveiling Hate Crimes

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Updated: Sep 07, 2023
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Hate crime is defined as a crime, usually violent, motivated by prejudice or intolerance toward an individual’s national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability (Hate Crime, 2019). In society, we generally hear about crimes against individuals based on the color of their skin. However, hate crimes are more prevalent than one could imagine. These are not crimes we normally hear or read about in the news. Although some individuals are accepting of the lifestyle, same-sex relationships are still deemed deviant within society.

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Fear of violence, judgement, or being ostracized is what hinders victims from going to authorities. Hate crimes are less likely than other crimes to be reported (Herek, G. M., Cogan, C. J., & Gillis, J. R., 2002).

Individuals within the social science community are beginning to focus on the results of these crimes instead of just the crimes themselves. More specifically, researchers are delving into the mental state of victims. In life one cannot control what happens, one can control how the situation is handled. An attempt to address the aftermath of these horrible crimes does exactly that.

A study conducted by Gregory M. Herek, Jeanine C. Cogan, and J. Roy Gillis gives insight into victim experiences. The purpose of the study was to provide insights and context that could possibly be helpful for professionals who work can knowledge to further research into the psychosocial impact of antigay crimes (Herek, Cogan, & Gillis, 2002). The authors were looking to answer three research questions; what are the varieties of hate crime victimization experienced by sexual minorities, how do victims decide that a crime is based on their sexual orientation, and why do many victims choose not to report an incident to police authorities.

A group of 450 volunteers were used in the study. The smaller sample consisted of 224 men and 226 women ranging from 19 to 73 years old with a median income between $15,000 to 25,000 (Herek, Cogan, & Gillis, 2002). These individuals were selected from a grander sample of 2,259 individuals. The larger sample were given a detailed questionnaire associated with victimization and mental health (Herek, Cogan, & Gillis, 2002). The 450 consisted of individuals who were willing to be interviewed further. Something interesting is that someone of the same race and sex contacted the interviewee to set up the interview. This was done in effort to further encourage the participate to be interviewed. One generally feels at ease when they are talking to someone of the same race or gender. The group of 450 interviewees was not the sample researchers set out for initially. Per Herek, Cogan, & Gillis (2002), at the start they wanted to conduct 150 interviews with victims of antigay crimes, 150 interviews with victims of nonbias crimes, and 150 interviews with individuals who had never been criminally victimized. The answers received regarding victimization from the detailed opening questionnaire led to the researchers tweaking the makeup of the sample. There were very few individuals who reported no form of victimization.

As a result of the sensitivity of the subject matter, the team of interviewers were college educated individuals who received interview training. Proper training and education leaves little room for bias interviews or improper procedure taken place. In further effort to protect the interviewees the interviews were conducted in their homes, the groups office, or some location chosen by the individual being interview. Allowing the interviewee to feel some sort of control allows for the interviewee to be more susceptible to answer questions without holding back.

Due to the lack of individuals who had not experience crime, various subcategories were compared. Prior to comparing these categories, three questions were asked; how much did one fear that they would be injured during the attached, how much did one fear that they would be killed, and the extent of their injuries. Survivors of bias and nonbias person crimes did not different on any of the indicators (Herek, Cogan, & Gillis, 2002). Per Herek, Cogan, & Gillis, (2002), about 88% of both groups said that they feared being injured to at least some extent during the incident, 50% of survivors of nonbias crimes and 66% of survivors of bias crimes said that they felt a lot of danger of injury.

Something interesting within the article is the breakdown of settings and perpetrators as. This helps the reader better understand the results. Of the victims of nonbias and bias crimes, bias crimes occurred more in public places (60% for bias crimes and 32% for nonbias crimes) (Herek, Cogan, & Gillis, 2002). Most of the interviewees (68%) were attacked by one unknown adolescent or young adult male assailant versus multiple (Herek, Cogan, & Gillis, 2002). Are more of these crimes taking place in public places to make a statement or is it just a coincidence? In today’s society, especially in the age of social media adolescents feels like they have to prove something in order to be accepted. This may be the reason for the high percentage of this hate crimes occurring in public places.

The literature review within this journal article was extensive, to say the least. Unlike previous articles, this study added previous research conducted on hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Although heavy in older statistics, it is necessary to completely under the topic at hand. Simply because it is something that one might not deal with, one might not care as much. The building blocks of the older research helps one to understand that there are real people with real emotions that deal with these kind of things.

Hate crimes are presumed to be against persons who differ from societal norms. These crimes are not always reported fearing retaliation or being targeted once again. If these crimes were reported as they occur, the public would have more insight as to how often or why these crimes are committed. The research that has been conducted on this topic is disheartening. The hope is for more victims of hate crimes to come forward and for society to come to the realization that although they are “different”, those within the same-sex community need love and protection too.


Hate Crime. (2019). Retrieved from

Herek, G. M., Cogan, C. J., & Gillis, J. R. (2002). Victim Experiences in Hate Crimes Based on Sexual Orientation. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 319-339.”

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Silent Crisis: Unveiling Hate Crimes. (2019, May 25). Retrieved from