The learned helplessness phenomenon is proposed as a model for the emotional numbing and maladaptive passivity sometimes following victimization. Victims may learn during the victimization episode that responding is futile. This learning is represented as an expectation of future response-outcome independence (helplessness). Causal interpretations of the episode affect the chronicity and generality of deficits resulting from this expectation, as well as the involvement of self-esteem loss. We discuss several problems in applying the helplessness model to victimization, but we conclude that the theory may be useful in explaining why some victims become numb and passive.