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Theories of Female Victimisation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 4403 words Published: 18th May 2017

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In today’s society crime is a constant. People that are well know, to people that no one has ever heard of fall victim to criminal activity on a daily basis. There has to be a reason why these things happen so often. Victim precipitation theory holds that the victim is the contributing fact of their victimization. Women, especially, can make themselves available to criminals and can effortlessly become easy targets. In a sense, every victim contributes to their own victimization in one way or another.

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Crime is very apparent in our everyday lives. It seems as though the average American cannot go a day without hearing about another atrocious crime that has happened in their community. According to the US Department of Justice, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, violent crimes accounted for 1,254,358 of the crimes committed in 2009. There are many different types of offenses that can be classified as a crime. The FBI, in its annual Crime in the United States report, publishes data for serious crimes in the Crime Index. The Index includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. All of these crimes happen frequently to Americans, some reports show that some even happen on a minute to minute basis.

Victims of crimes are those that are affected by the outcome of a crime that has been committed; these can include the primary victim, the secondary victims, and related victims. A whole community can be affected by just one crime. It is very common to know someone who has been the victim of a crime, especially in today’s society. Many people may have empathy for these people and often speculate how something like this could have happened to a person, as many victims wonder the same thing.

A primary victim is someone within the range of foreseeable physical injury, typically a participant in the accident; damages are recoverable for psychiatric injury as for physical injury, even if no physical injury has occurred. Secondary victims are those outside the range of foreseeable physical injury, such as witnesses or relatives of the accident victims. A related victim is a person who is a close family member, or a dependant, of a primary victim who has died as a direct result of an act of violence being committed against them. (www.justice.qld.gov) As you can see, when an offender commits a crime against one person, the primary victim, it can lead to domino effect. There can many victims for one crime.

There are many theories on why crimes happen and why people fall victim to them. Some think that being victimized is just a matter of opportunity, that particular person that became a victim to a crime was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shouldn’t people this day in age be smart enough to where the wrong place is and what the wrong time is? Some people theorize just that. People should know the difference in right and wrong, and they should use their brains as to decide the difference. One theory that upholds these opinions is the victim precipitation theory. As in, the victim participated, in some way, to their own victimization. Victim precipitation theory views victimology from the standpoint that the victim themselves may actually initiate, either passively or actively, the criminal act that ultimately leads to death or injury. (www.associatedcontent.com) If a victim passively initiates in their own victimization, they unknowingly do so. On the other hand, if a victim has an active role in their victimization, they might have consciously made the decision to do; by either provoking or instigating the crime that occurred. Either way, the victim precipitation theory blames the victim for their role in their victimization.

Job promotions, job status, successes, love interests, and the like are examples of these unconscious behaviors and characteristics of passive precipitation. Additionally, political activists, minority groups, those of different sexual orientations, and other individuals pursuing alternate lifestyles may also find themselves as targets of violence due to the inadvertent threat they pose to certain individuals of power. Active victimization occurs under this theory through the threatening or provocative actions of the victim. One of the most controversial points of this theory is the idea that women who are raped actively contributed in some way, either through provocative dress, a relationship, or suggested consent of intimacy. Because of this viewpoint it is hard to convict an accused rapist who has had some form of relationship with the accused, or one that was behaving provocatively or suggestively. (www.associatedcontent.com)

Generally speaking, there are two victims of crime; men and women. Some people still view women as the inferior sex, even in the 21st century. Even though men and women are both susceptible to crime, women are 8 to 10 times more likely to fall victim to rape and spousal abuse. A select few still perceive women as weak and not having the ability to think for themselves. Let every Man (in particular) be asked his thoughts of women and he will tell you without doubt, that they were not made but for man; they are fit for nothing, but to nurse; and breed little children in their low age; and to mind the house. (www.users.muohio.edu) Men, on the other hand, are considered to be the protectors of their home and are the ones that have the education to speak openly. Many times this can be a reason to why some men commit crimes against women; a male offender may say that a woman was out of place by speaking her mind, or doing other things that may seem normal to other people in today’s society, so he felt that he had to do something about it. Even though these views seem dated, there are still many men, and women, that think this way.

Because of the way that women are viewed it can make them an easy target for some offenders. Many rapists still believe that women should submit to a man, when he wants her to, and fear him for the things that he may do to her is she does give in easily. Men rapist usually have the need to punish, humiliate, dominate, overpower, and control their victim. Most of the time a rapist does not see their action as them doing anything wrong, and they do not even consider the feelings of their victim. Women are also more susceptible to scams than men are. People often use emotions to their advantage when they are trying to con someone, be it for money or a place to live. Women are known to be emotional beings because they are made to produce children and be motherly. People all over America, and neighboring countries, use email scams, mail fraud, or even just random telephone cons in order to receive money and other goods and services.

An email scam can be randomized and sent out in to multiple inboxes at one time. People from other countries can collect email addresses from sites in which people sign up for updates about their favorite cookbooks or even pornographic websites. Either way, these scams can create dangerous situations. There is a scam known as the “Grandparent Scam”. This scam entails someone choosing a number out of the phonebook and if an elderly woman answers the person on the other end simply says, “Grandma, is that you?”, when the woman answers yes, the scam begins. The person basically tells their “grandmother” that they have gotten into some kind of trouble and are in need of money and asks her to Western Union the money to them. Without a question the ‘grandmother” sends the person the requested funds and doesn’t even realized that they have been conned. Who wouldn’t help their grandchild that was in need? Feelings are often used against women in this all of the time. Without delay a most women would help a person in need because it seemed like the right thing to do, and before their very eyes, that have fallen victim to another scam.

Rape that occurs on dates or between people who know each other should not be seen as some sort of misguided sexual adventure: Rape is violence, not seduction. In stranger rape and acquaintance rape, the aggressor makes a decision to force his victim to submit to what he wants. The rapist believes he is entitled to force sexual intercourse from a woman and he sees interpersonal violence (be it simply holding the woman down with his body or brandishing a gun) as an acceptable way to achieve his goal. (Warshaw, 1988, pg.20) In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner. (www.ojp.usdoj.gov) One- third of women killed in 2005 actually knew their attackers, which is an alarming rate. Victim precipitation theory holds that some women are subjected to this violence because they have brought it upon themselves. A mixture of body image, the way a women dresses, where a women hangs out, and the company that she keeps can attribute to her own victimization.

Dissatisfaction with one’s physical appearance can lead to a negative body image. (Lankford, 2010, pg.13) A woman’s negative perception of herself can lead to her to making poor life decisions. How a woman perceives herself can affect her everyday life, such as, her career, family life, and finances. Women that do not think highly of themselves tend to think that they do not deserve to be truly happy. Having a low self-esteem can cause a person to become depressed. Depression can lead to a number of self mutilating problems, such as, drug use, alcoholism, and eating disorders. (Wolff, 1999, pg.18) If a woman thinks that she may never be able to find a husband, boyfriend, or partner she may become licentious. Some of these women may think that if a man takes them out or was nice to them, that they are obliged to say yes to sex afterwards. Women with this condition may become an easy target, and they may even submit to an attacker.

The way a woman dresses can contribute to the type of lifestyle that they live. We, as a society, know how many different people in different professions dress. A police man wear a blue uniform, a person in the military wears BDUs, and a prostitute wears a short dress and a low cut shirt. The way women dress is routinely cited as an encouragement to rape; the argument is that if a woman is dressed a certain way, then they were asking, or even inviting, a potential rapist to attack them. References to sheer and clinging fabrics, low-slung jeans and low-cut tops, bare midriffs, short skirts and liberally applied make-up are common in the context of rape trials. (www.thisisnotaninvitationtorapeme.co.uk) A common assumption is that if a woman wears revealing clothing they are considered to be either a whore or a prostitute. Prostitution is illegal in all states, but one, in the United States. About 80% of women in prostitution have been the victim of a rape. Prostitutes are raped, on the average, eight to ten times per year. They are the most raped class of women in the history of our planet. ( Hunter and Reed, 1990)

Where a person lives can say a lot about them. If a person lives in project housing then we know that they are financially stable, if a person lives in a big house in a great neighborhood then we know that they have the resources to do so. Statistically speaking, the crime rate is higher in lower income neighborhoods than it would be in higher income neighborhoods. In theory, individuals are targeted based on their lifestyle choices which expose them to criminal offenders and situations in which crimes may be committed. If a woman lives in a lower income neighborhood or in known to venture in these types of places, they are subjecting themselves to become a victim of crime. The correlation between victims and the perpetrators of crimes is that they both exhibit impulsive and antisocial-like behaviors. These behaviors may contribute to their victimization since they cause the individual to put themselves at risk more so then more conservative lifestyle counterparts. (www.associatedcontent.com) In a nutshell, if a neighborhood is “deviant,” the only way to lower a person’s risk of victimization is for them to leave the neighborhood for a less deviant, low crime rate area.

Drug use is more common in lower income neighborhoods. People who use drugs put themselves in dangerous situations every day. People who commit crimes, as drug use and distribution is a crime, are more prone to become victims because they are involved in precarious conditions. Those who choose high-risk lifestyles which include taking drugs, drinking, and participating in criminal activities run a much higher risk of becoming victims. (www.associatedcontent.com) If a woman is a drug runner, or is just purchasing drugs for personal use, she may be involved in situations where other women are being prostituted out. If a woman gets desperate enough, then she may start doing the same thing in order to get money to purchase more drugs. Women are much more frequently involved in prostitution to fund drugs habits than men. What exacerbates the danger to these women is the powerlessness they experience due to their intense need for drugs and severe poverty. Because many men seek out dangerous sexual services from drug- addicted prostitutes, they are at a great risk. (Egendorf, 2003, pg.98)

The factors previously mentioned are palpable. Most of the time the average person can identify a prostitute or a continuous drug user, but what about women that contribute to their own victimization in less obvious ways? Women who stay in violent relationships, their sexual orientation, walking down a street at night by themselves, or just being simply too nice are way a woman can contribute to being victimized and they do not even know that they are doing so. Woman need to prepare themselves for being victimized if they are making themselves an easy target.

Women who stay in violent relationships, be it with a man or a women, contribute to their own victimization every day that they are with their abusive partner. Relationship abuse can include, but is not limited to, physical, mental, verbal, and emotional abuse. Some women may not even recognize that they are being abused at the time it is occurring. A woman may assume that they cannot do any better than the person they are with, and that it why they continue to be in a relationship with them, this can stem back to having self-esteem and being depressed about one’s self. It is sad to know that most women cannot get out abuse relationships until it is too late for them to do so. There is a rising number of women being abused to a point to where they end up being murdered, and most of the time it is by an intimate partner.

Physical abuse is defined as any behavior that inflicts harm on a person. (White, 2001, pg.14) Physical abuse can include; hitting, shoving, biting, throwing objects at a person to inflict harm, and even sexual abuse. Every year, domestic violence results in almost 100,000 days of hospitalizations, almost 30,000 emergency department visits, and almost 40,000 visits to a physician. (American Medical Association, 1991) Sexual abuse can fall under many different categories at one time, such as physical and mental abuse. An abuser can make a woman feel that it is their duty to have sex with their husband or boyfriend by saying “If you loved me you would…”, if the abuser makes a woman think that he will not love her if she does not provide him with sexual favors, then he is sexually and mentally abusing her.

Mental and emotional abuse go hand in hand. Mental abuse is sometimes referred to as psychological or emotional abuse. Mental abuse is the intentional infliction of anguish, degradation, fear, or distress. Mental and emotional abuse can be used to brainwash someone into thinking that they are wrong if they leave an abuser. A mental abuser can be very distant from their partner at times, but if the woman decides to leave them, then they become very distraught with loving emotions. A woman may feel as if they are walking on egg shells around their partner, because they do not want them to become upset and argue with them. Fear is not part of a loving relationship, but it is a vital part of a mentally abusive relationship. It enables the abuser to maintain control over a woman. (http://ezinearticles.com)

A woman who stays in a violent relationship can actually set themselves up for more victimization if their children are witnessing the abuse. Children who grow seeing a man abuse their mother will grow up and think that this type of treatment is acceptable. If the mother does eventually remove herself and her children from an abusive relationship, the abuse could continue to live through her children. Children who grow up in violent homes are: at higher risk for substance abuse and juvenile delinquency, bear emotional scars, as well as feelings of insecurity, guilt, and isolation, often experience difficulties in school such as inattentiveness, learning disabilities, and stress-related physical problems, fail to develop the experience they need to enter into healthy relationships as adults, and often grow up with low self-esteem and become easy victims of verbal and physical abuse. (www.heartlyhouse.org)

Although we are now in the 21st century, it is still common to find people who do not agree with sexual orientations other than heterosexual relationships. People that participate in same sex relationships are at a higher risk for having hate crimes and hostility committed against them. There are people in America that suffer from homophobia and heterosexism. Homophobia is the unreasonable fear or disdain from of homosexuals and/or homosexuality. At its most extreme, homophobia is expressed through physical violence, including rape and murder. Heterosexism is the assumption that heterosexuality is the only form of sexual identity and family life. Although less stigmatizing than overt homophobia, the assumption of heterosexuality can alienate lesbians in mainstream institutions, including health care settings. (Liebschutz, 2003, pg.238)

Yet another way that a woman can increase her chances of becoming a victim is not reporting a crime or violent act. Some women seem to be embarrassed that they were victimized in the first place, so they fail to report a crime that has occurred. When a woman does not report a crime that has been committed against her she increases her chances of being victimized again, she also leaves the door opened for another woman to be victimized. Since there was no reason to detain the criminal that committed the act, that person is still roaming free to commit another a horrendous crime and the next time it may be the initial victim’s neighbor, friend, or even her own daughter.

A woman that is naïve to situations in today’s society can also put herself at a higher risk of becoming victimized. It is obvious that more and more people in this day in age are becoming victims of crime. If a woman were to walk down a low lit at night, by herself, in an ominous neighborhood; there is no telling what gang or rapist might see her, or what they might do to her. Woman who make it common knowledge that they live by themselves are also at a higher risk. Situations like this happen all of the time, which is one of the reasons why crime rate is so high in certain parts of the United States. Woman are victimized, in this case, by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If a woman were to tell a stranger that she lives by herself, then that stranger could easily follow her home and victimize her. It is that simple. Women have to take certain defensive precautions in order to not become a victim.

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There are cases where a person can be too nice. In today’s society people tend to lose sight of morals to use to be upheld. There are more scams and cons than ever. A woman could just think that they are beginning nice to a stranger and not even know that person is really a rapist or murderer. There is a difference in being nice and being too nice. People tend to take advantage of people that do not have the ability to say no. If a woman works all day long and picks up her co-worker’s slack, and then comes home and complains that she is wore out, whose fault is it really? Being too nice, or vulnerable, can sometimes stab a woman in their back. Although it is nice to see a friendly face, a woman should never invite a stranger to come to her home where she lives by herself. This is one of the reasons that more and more people are becoming reluctant to help someone, because a person can never know what a stranger, or even someone they know, is capable of behind closed doors.

The biggest way a woman can contribute to their own victimization is to think that it will not happen to them. Women who feel that they will never be attacked are the ones that get raped, kidnapped, murdered, or burglarized. The mistake that they make is not being prepared. Violent crimes happen to normal people every day. Why should it not happen to the girl next door, or the woman from two towns over? To offenders, they are all the same. Offenders do not care if the woman they are attacking is a mother, sister, or wife. This might even make them feel as if that particular woman is more important and they have a more valuable thing to take away from someone. Women need to be educated to become more sufficient in protecting themselves. A way that a woman can prevent serious victimization is to always be prepared. In today’s society a person can never know what is lurking around the next corner waiting to pounce on their next victim that will fall prey. When a woman is too arrogant about criminal activity, they make themselves an easy target.

Some other ways that a woman could protect herself from becoming a victim is having the knowledge to know the different types of offenders. Some offenders victimize people out or pure self satisfaction, others offend in order to provide for their families. Multiple offenders have the knowledge to know how to get the act committed, since they have not been caught thus far, they think that they know what they are doing and how to get away with it. On the other hand, first time offenders could be easier to negotiate with and may easily feel sorry for their victims.

When a man approaches a woman in a dimly lit parking lot and asks for her keys and her wallet, the best thing that woman can do cooperate with that person. If a woman was being robbed at gun point and did cooperate with the person committing the offense, then that person could easily shot the woman and take what they want. The most important thing is that a woman educates herself with the knowledge of know when to fight and when to do as the offender asks. Staying calm can produce better results for these types of situations. No material possession is worse losing their life for. Along with emotional, woman tend to materialistic. If approached by a stranger that asked for her jewelry, a woman might hesitate. Even the ring that her great-great-grandmother gave her would not be an acceptable reason to lose her life.

The mental capacity of an offender can have an effect on how they will respond to ways their victim reacts to their actions. If a person holds the mental capacity of a 3rd grader they are liable to respond in different ways than an offender with a high I.Q. would. The problem with offenders with low mental capacities is that they could easily commit an offense because they do not know any better. Knowing the different situations that woman could find herself in, could be the difference in her surviving victimization. Knowledge is power to women that have no choice but to live in lower income neighborhoods that are surrounded by frequent drug use and violent crimes.

The victim precipitation theory upholds that it is the victim’s fault that they became victimized in the first place. From a woman wearing a low cut shirt to a woman walking down a street late at night by herself, there is a reason that woman was victimized from the start. A woman can knowingly or passively contribute to her own victimization. Bad life decisions, staying in a violent relationship, and even a woman’s sexual orientation can contribute to her victimization. Criminals seek out women who make easy targets. Prostitutes and drug users are more prone to get raped and used for sexual favors. Women who make themselves available to crime are more likely to be victims of crime. Women should use common knowledge in order to stay safe and protect themselves. Overall, crime is a rising scenario in today’s society. Crime can happen to an everyday average person in the blink of an eye. There are ways to prevent becoming victimized.


Susan Kay Hunter and K.C. Reed, July, 1990 “Taking the side of bought and sold rape,” speech at National Coalition against Sexual Assault, Washington, D.C.

Psychiatric injury – primary victims, secondary victims, Page v Smith, Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police http://law.jrank.org/pages/16981/psychiatric-injury.html#ixzz16jdchKYW [online]

American Medical Association. 5 issues American Health. Chicago 1991

White, Katherine (2001) Relationship Violence, The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.

Egendorf, Laura K. (2003) Chemical Dependency, Thomson- Gale

www.associatedcontent.com The Four Theories of Victimization [online]

Lankford, Ronald D, Jr. (2010) Body Image, Gale, Cengage Learning

Warshaw, Robin (1988) I Never Called It Rape, Harper and Row

www.thisisnotaninvitationtorapeme.co.uk This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me [online]

Wolff, Lisa (1999) Teen Depression, Lucent Books, Inc.

Liebschutz, Jane M. (2003) Violence Against Women, American College of Physicians

www.heartlyhouse.org Children From An Abusive Home [online]


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