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Transcript of Victimology
and the psychological
effects of being a victim.
"Victimolgy first emerged in the 1940's and
1950's, when several criminologists (notably
Hans von Hentig, Benjamin Mendelsohn, and
Henri Ellenberger) examined victim-offender
interactions and stressed reciprocal
influences and role reversals."
Victim's Rights on the Rise
Von Hentig's Theory of Victimization
Von Hentig suggested that there are classes of people who are commonly victimized. The general classes include:
The female - biologically not as strong
The young - incapable of protecting themselves
The old - incapable of protecting themselves
The mentally defective - hindered by mental disabilities
Immigrants, minorities, and dull normals - language barriers, cultural differences, and people with lower IQs
How responsible is the victim for what happened?
Routine Activities Approach - focuses on situations of crime (the crime triangle)
Why It's Important
As law enforcement officers, we need to understand what plays into being a victim, how we can best serve the victim, and how we can avoid re-victimizing them through the criminal justice system.
The psychological classes include:
The depressed - not focused on their safety (easy target)
The tormentor - a bully/jerk
The wanton - risk takers (adrenaline junkies)
The blocked exempt and fighting - (blocked opportunity)
The lonesome and heartbroken - desperate/more trusting
The aquisitive - greedy (get rich quick)
The activating sufferer - such as a masochist makes for an easy target
The completely innocent victim - 100% innocent
The victim with minor guilt - plays a small role in what happened to them (such as leaving their door unlocked and their house getting burglarized)
The victim who is as guilty as the offender - 50% fault (such as a bar fight)
The victim who is more guilty than the offender - most of the blame is on the victim
The most guilty victim - someone who did something heinous and revenge against them was sought (such as the father of a murdered girl murdering her murderer)
The imaginary victim - someone who thinks they are a victim even though they are not
A study done in 1963
which determined that
there was normally a
between the offender
and the victim.
A study done
in 1948 that
by examining their
risk factors of
Lifestyle Theory - a person's lifestyle may expose them to a greater number of potential offenders. This may increase the likelihood of becoming a victim (such as walking home drunk every Saturday).
This theory examines exposure and guardianship as it relates to victimization
The Crime Triangle
In order for a crime to take place you need 3 things
Physical Consequences - injuries that are caused by violent attacks or accidental results of the commission of a crime.
Injuries can range from minor bruises to STDs and catastrophic injuries such as paraplegia.
Mindset of the Victim
A specific set of temporary circumstances that results in a state of upset and disequilibrium characterized by an individual's inability to cope with a particular situation using customary methods of problem solving.
Lack of Capable Guardian
one of these
chance of a crime
occurring is greatly
reduced or eliminated
Victim blaming - this theory puts the responsibility for the crime on the victim, not the offender (not all victims are innocent). This view is controversial because no one likes to blame the victim.
The rise of the Victim's Rights Movement helped
increase the public's awareness of Victimology.
The 1980's brought forth much public awareness to Victimology through a variety of ways.
The media was used to increase public awareness in the 1980's.
In 1982, President Reagan's Task Force on Victims of Crime released its Final Report, containing recommendations for government officials.
The Establishment of the Office for Victims of Crime, the Crime Victims Fund, and the passing of the Victims of Crime Act offered resources to victims.
Social Forces that helped Victimology emerge
The Feminist Movement was one of the biggest things that led to Victimology emerging by bringing attention to women victims.
The Development of Civil Rights Laws drastically changed the way the criminal justice system works and helped bring Victimology to the forefront.
While Reagan was in office, society as a whole became much more conservative and concern about crime and the victim grew, giving strength to the Victim's Rights Movement.
Main Points of Victimology
The study of victims helps us not only understand why people are chosen as victims and what offenders look for in a victim, but it also helps us understand the effects of being a victim.
Different theories give different opinions on how offenders chose their victims. No one theory is completely right, sometimes you have to cherry pick from a couple different ones.
Keep in mind that when dealing with victims, this is the worst time in their lives, and try to be sympathetic to that. Many victims feel revictimized by police and the criminal justice system in general. Victimology seeks to eliminate that.
Working in law enforcement puts us constantly in contact with victims. It is easy to become numb to the crimes, but we need to stay compassionate to the victims.
Consequences and Costs of Crime
Tangible Costs - fairly easy-to-measure items that have a specific monetary value:
Police and fire services
Mental health care
Property damage and loss
Intangible Costs - very hard to calculate, including the value of diminished quality of life, loss of companionship, pain and suffering.
Most offenders are not able to pay restitution that is ordered or even for civil damages. The cost is then passed on to third party co-defendants like insurance companies and in turn it is then passed on to consumers through insurance prices. This means we all pay for crimes that we didn't even commit.
There are three stages in Crisis:
The Impact Stage
The Recoil Stage
The Reorganization Stage
Though not everyone responds this way, most people will follow this pattern. However not all will follow it.
The Impact Stage
This stage occurs immediately after the crime has been committed
Symptoms of shock may be displayed in the victim
May be a disruption in eating or sleeping habits
Feelings of lack of control or helplessness may be present
Mood swings and emotional outbursts
This can last up to several days after the event
The Recoil Stage
This stage is the victim's attempt to adapt to the situation and accept it
Some victims may repress feelings as a coping mechanism or even go into denial
Many victims will replay the event over in their minds, asking themselves "what did I do wrong?"
Fear finally gives way to anger which brings about thoughts of revenge
The Reorganization Stage
The victim's feelings of fear and anger begin to diminish
The victim starts to achieve a sense of normalcy
They can begin to resume day to day activities without the event of the crime being the main focus
This does NOT in any way mean that the event has been forgotten or that the victim's life has not been altered in some way
The victim may may permanent changes such as:
No longer walking by themselves
Getting a big dog for protection
Getting a security system for their house
In the case of rape, intimate relationships are not easily re-established with their partner
Other Mental Effects
Acute Stress Disorder
Experienced in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event
The victim must have experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an even that involved actual or threatened death, serious injury, or a threat to the safety to the victims or others
Characteristics include anxiety and dissociative symptoms (derealization, dissociative amnesia, depersonalization, reduction in awareness of surroundings, subjective sense numbing)
Symptoms last from 2-30 days
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
The development of characteristic symptoms following a psychologically distressing event that is outside the range of usual human experience
Victims avoid stimuli associated with the event
Victims of any crime can experience PTSD
Long-Term Crisis Reaction
A condition that occurs when victims do not suffer from PTSD, but may re-experience feelings of the crisis reaction when certain events trigger the recollection of the trauma to their lives
May be triggered by anything that is significant to the event (Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays)
A very common feeling that crime victims experience when becoming involved in the criminal justice system is helplessness.
The Needs of Victims
In 1999, the Office for Victims of Crime and IACP collaborated to conduct a National Policy Summit on Victims of Crime. Due to the powerful discussions that took place it was found that victims have specific needs from law enforcement.
What is a Victim?
The term "victim" has roots in the early religious notions of suffering, death, and sacrifice. The concept of the victim was well known throughout ancient civilizations such as Greece, Palestine, Babylonia, and Rome and in all of these places, the law demanded that victims should be made whole again by the offender.
How we can help victims, grieve, cope, and move on
Helping Victims Continued
Every single victim, every single time, deserves to get the appropriate treatment by law enforcement officers and to be treated with dignity and respect.
These needs include:
Safety from being re-victimized - many victims feel that if it happened once, it could happen again and they fear for their safety
Protection from the perpetrator - crime victims need protection from intimidation, harassment, and harm
Support from law enforcement - law enforcement and other victim responders must have the ability to communicate in a nonthreatening, compassionate, and informed manner to help victims participate in the justice process
Involvement in the criminal justice system - support affords victims the opportunity to take an active role in cooperating and working with law enforcement to hold perpetrators accountable
Information about and access to support services - access to support services that are available to provide assistance to victims is important to victims
Information about their case - victims have a right (and sometimes need) to be informed of the status of their investigations and have any questions about the general workings of the criminal justice system answered
Justice achieved by holding the perpetrator responsible for their crime - a victim may feel like justice wasn't served if the perpetrator gets off easy or doesn't pay for their crime at all
A voice (the ability to speak out and be heard about their issues and concerns) - victims not only need to know that they are being valued, but that their experiences are being used to help ensure that others are not subjected to criminal acts the way they were
As workers in law enforcement, we have a duty to "protect and serve". We need to better protect victims from feeling revictimized by the criminal justice system and we need to serve them by helping them cope with the reality of what has happened in their lives.
A victim of a crime is simply someone who had their property taken or damaged by a person who was committing a crime or has been financially, physically, or emotionally injured by someone committing a crime.
As an academic term the word "Victimology" contains two different elements.
The first is the word "victima" which is the Latin word for "victim"
The second is "logos" which is Greek and means "a system of knowledge, the direction of something abstract, the direction of teaching, science, and a discipline."
Thus, Victimology is simply the academic (or scientific) study of the victim.
Every day, hundreds of people are victimized by crime in our country. Crime is a frequent and reoccurring phenomena in not only the country, but around the world as well.
Anytime a crime impacts a person or a family, their lives are forever changed. No matter what happens, it will never be the same. Though we can't undo the damage that has been done, we can help the victims get justice and learn how to cope with what has happened to them.
"For those individuals who survive their victimization, they are often haunted by the memory of the incident and can develop lingering trauma that evokes such conditions as PTSD, depression, anxiety, fear, and the inability to trust, among other factors."
As law enforcement officers, we can treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve and make ourselves available to answer any questions they may have.
Our goal, for every victim, every time, is to get the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
When working with victims, make sure to keep an open mind and be compassionate when doing what you need to do. Most of all, be as human as you can, remember what they are having to go through at the moment
All case types, such as domestic abuse, robbery, rape, teen victims, etc, have different things that need to be addressed. Take it on a case by case basis on how to handle victims, there is no one magic formula for all.
Keeping victims informed on their case is a tool that can almost always be used and that helps the victim feel like something is being done to try and achieve justice for them
Victims need to have a constant line of communication open with the investigator(s) working their case so that they can have their questions answered and their concerns addressed properly
Helping Victims Continued
If a family wants to be involved in their case, you should make it your responsibility to keep them informed and to talk to them on a regular basis.
How you treat the victims and their families is crucial -- you should always treat them humanely and professionally.
When releasing information to the media, make sure the family has been notified first of the break in the case. No family wants to hear something for the first time on the news instead of from the investigator.
Be sensitive to what material you release to the media, you do not want to release any information that will further traumatize the victim.
When trying to gain information, try to remember to place yourself in the victim's shoes. This is the most terrible time in their lives, and we need to stay compassionate and understanding of their feelings.
One of the most traumatic moments in a
survivor's life is receiving notification of their
loved one's death.
When giving a death notification, there are a few things that will help make breaking the news to the family easier on the survivors:
Always have a team to deliver the news (if you know the family's pastor, try to contact them to go with you to deliver the news)
Have as much information regarding the death as possible when delivering the news so that any questions the family may have can be answered.
Never, if possible, make notifications by telephone
Don't take the victim's personal items as evidence at the time of the notification.
The notification should be done inside the home sitting down with the appropriate relatives.
Be clear, direct, and simple, while still being compassionate.
In the course of their duties, law enforcement officers deal with crime victims on a daily basis.
As first responders, they render immediate aid and provide initial support and comfort in the aftermath of the criminal act.
Though they can be confronted with devastating circumstances, they must maintain a delicate balance between retaining their objectivity while displaying the requisite degree of empathy victims require.
Officers walk a fine line between sensitivity and authority.
Understanding the importance of crime victimization is essential for law enforcement officers to effectively fulfill their role in the system, and to make a difference in the lives of those whose lives have been disrupted by tragedy.
Because this is the worst time in the victims' lives, the nature and quality of the response toward the victim from law enforcement is critically important.
The manner in which law enforcement interacts with crime victims will leave a lasting impression on them.
Law enforcement's methods should ease the trauma and impact of the crime on the victim.
Police officers MUST be patient and understand that victims and survivors may be in shock over what has happened and could repeatedly ask questions.
Officers must possess keen listening skills and be attentive to nuances in the communication between themselves, victims, and survivors.
Though police officers try to maintain boundaries in their work, they sometimes become the only reliable and trusted source for victims and survivors.
It's not unlikely that, over time, victims and survivors may bond with the law enforcement officers with whom they have developed a professional relationship and who continue to provide them information in the aftermath of the crime.
The link between officer and victim may serve as a conduit that serves victims and survivors in reconciling the oftentimes incomprehensible events that transpired.
"The FBI is committed to ensuring that victims receive the rights they are entitled to and the assistance they need to cope with crime. Treating victims with respect and providing them with assistance benefits victims and helps us build better cases. Our resources include an Office for Victim Assistance at FBI Headquarters and victim specialists nationwide"
For a list of resources for victims, visit:
Works Cited Continued
Bune, Karen. “Focusing On What’s Vital For Victims.” Officer.com. Officer.com, 1 June 2008. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://www.officer.com/article/10248860/focusing-on-whats-vital-for-victims>.
- - -. “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 18–24: Celebrating fairness, dignity and respect.” Law Officer: Police & Law Enforcement. Law Officer: Police & Law Enforcement, 26 Mar. 2010. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://www.lawofficer.com/article/leadership/national-crime-victims-rights>.
Bune, Karen L. “’Every Victim--Every Time.’” Officer.com. N.p., 2 Apr. 2007. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <http://www.officer.com/article/10250027/every-victim-every-time?page=1>.
- - -. “Keeping Victims and Survivors in the Loop.” Officer.com. Officer.com, 1 Oct. 2007. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://www.officer.com/article/10249415/keeping-victims-and-survivors-in-the-loop>.
- - -. “Public Information Officers And Victims’ Rights.” Officer.com. Officer.com, 3 Sept. 2007. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://www.officer.com/article/10249509/public-information-officers-and-victims-rights>.
Dussich, John P.J. Victimology - Past, Present, and Future. N.p.: n.p., n.d. UNAFEI. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <http://www.unafei.or.jp/english/pdf/RS_No70/No70_12VE_Dussich.pdf>.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Victim Assistance.” FBI.gov. Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/victim_assistance>.
Gaffney, James P. “National Crime Victims Rights Week.” Law Enforcement Today. The Law Enforcement Community, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. <http://lawenforcementtoday.com/tag/victimology/>.
Works Cited Continued
IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center. “Response to Victims of Crime.” Concept and Issues Paper 2 (2010): 1-7. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. <http://www.mecasa.org/joomla/images/pdfs/sart/responsetovictimsofcrime.pdf>.
International Association of Chiefs of Police. “Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims.” International Associatioin of Chiefs of Police. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. <http://www.theiacp.org/portals/0/pdfs/responsetovictims/pdf/pdf/supplemental_pages_9_21c.pdf>.
Wallace, Harvey, and Cliff Roberson. Victimology: Legal, Psychological, and Social Perspectives. Third ed. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.