What is Victimology?

A Study & View from A Victim's Family Perspective...

                                                                            by Ann Oakes-Odger MBE


VICTIM...the word comes from the Latin 'Victima' meaning sacrifice...!     


We are probably more familiar with the phrase 'Criminology'...than 'Victimology'.  Victimology...is a field of research which for me is an exciting area of study, as it focuses on the 'Victim' instead of soley on the 'Perpetrator'.  It opens up the field of Criminology to include the wider impact to the Victim's family.  However, the importance of the impact upon the Victims' families...and the Social cost of Crime, still requires a great deal more research to make this area of study, balanced, in my opinion! 


By Social cost I am not just speaking of the cost to the Taxpayer to investigate and bring the Perpetrator(s) to Justice, but the psychological and long-term health consequences to the Victims' families'...those left with the Trauma following the Murder of a 'loved-one'.  A Forensic Psychological study of the Human cost to the Victims' Families...those families unfortunate enough to experience the 'Trauma'...when a beloved member of their family has been brutally murdered.  Those left dealing with this kind of pain will understand this sentiment completely [as does this family].


What is Victimology?...the 'Perpetrator's Profile' involves the evaluation of the Victim!  Victimology is simply establishing a degree of that person's risk of becoming a 'Victim'...as a function of his or her personal, professional or social life.  Intimate knowledge of the victim's habits and lifestyle to provide a view as to why this particular 'Victim' was chosen at a given time and place.  Dividing this information in one of three categories:


1)  Low Risk Victims...usually remain close to home and work, and generally do not frequent places they do no know well.  Lock their doors at night.  Hold steady jobs and have numerous friends.


2)  Medium Risk Victims...are considered to work close to home and 'lock their doors' at night.  However, these individuals are indiscriminate, at times they venture out at night alone!


3)  High Risk Victims often live in 'high-risk' situations...Sex Workers [especially those working the street].  They tend to work during the night hours, interacting with strangers and therefore becoming 'easy' to target.  Other high-risk behaviours include drug use, sexually active lifestyles, night workers and those that congregate in street groups/gangs that are of criminal intent.


Perpetrators are considered to choose their 'victims' on their own fantasies and their victim's susceptibility.  Although some victims are...victims of opportunity or as the often used phrase goes...'In the wrong place, at the wrong time!'  Low-risk victims are less likely to place themselves in susceptible situations than high-risk victims.  However, any of the 'risk' categories can become victims of opportunity [in the wrong place at the wrong time].  Some perpetrators of Homicide may spend time planning their evil intentions...perhaps days or weeks, seeking their victim [to match a particular fantasy] whilst other potentially vulnerable people and/or targets are ignored! 


Does this Study suggest that the 'Victim' has somehow 'Contributed' towards their own demise?  Are we in danger of allowing the 'Public at large' to hold a prejudiced view...?'  What price is 'Life' in a Civilised Society?  What is owed by Society to ensure the wellbeing of the Victims' families, to survive...following the trauma of a loved-one's murder?  Many Homicide victims families suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)...constant illness through lowered immune systems and premature deaths!  There's more to research and report in this particular area of Victimology...


What is a Psychological Autopsy?...This is a special form of 'Victim Profiling' which is performed when the manner of the Victim's death is unclear!  Where criminal investigators are unsure whether the Victim's death is accidental, suicidal or homicidal.  To assist in the determination, the Forensic Psychiatrist will look at the Victim's school, medical, work and/or military background...as well as interview family, friends and any other associates for relevant clues.  Evaluations made from the autopsy, police and any witness information to determine whether the Victim was the type of person who was living a 'high-stress' lifestyle, liable to take his/her own life or leading the sort of lifestyle that could render him/her a 'high-risk' potential to be easily targeted by a killer. 


You may be familiar with the phrase...'Look at how the Victim lived, to indicate 'how' and/or 'why' they died!'


















KnifeCrimes.Org would like to hear from anyone that wishes to make comment or observations on the foregoing study to info@KnifeCrimes.Org 













































E. & O.E.