This article presents an integrated theoretical model of victimization supported by both quantitative and qualitative data. By combining and clarifying existing criminological and psychological theory it highlights the influence of victims’ perceptions and labelling of an incident on their subsequent response to the incident – that is, whether or not they perceived an incident as a crime (and thus themselves as victims), and the effects this perception has on their involvement with the criminal justice system. The results of logistic multi-level models of Scottish Crime and Justice Survey data indicate that this type of perception helps to explain not only the under-reporting of crime, but the low uptake of victim support services. Qualitative data help to explain this further through reference to Selective Evaluation Theory (Taylor et al., 1983), suggesting that victims may be motivated to use a number of cognitive tools to avoid a state of ‘victimhood’ (and the victim label) and any associated involvement with the criminal justice system. The implications of this research for theory and policy are discussed.