Factors In Becoming A VictimAn important aspect of investigating a violent crime is an understanding of the victim and the relation that their lifestyle or personality characteristics may have contributed to the offender choosing them as a victim. People have the right to live how they wish - as long as they do not harm others - without becoming a victim. Yet the fact remains, that to understand the offender, one must first understand the victim.
Victims are classified during an investigation in three general categories that describe the level of risk their lifestyle represents in relation to the violent crime that has been committed. The importance of understanding this in an investigation is directly related back to the level of risk to the offender during the commission of the crime. This information is important to the investigation to better understand the sophistication or possible pathology of the offender.
High Risk Victims
Victims in this group have a lifestyle that makes them a higher risk for being a victim. The most obvious high risk victim is the prostitute. Prostitutes place themselves at risk every single time they go to work. Prostitutes are high risk because they will get into a stranger's automobile, go to secluded areas with strangers, and for the most part attempt to conceal their actions for legal reasons. Offenders often rely on all these factors and specifically target prostitutes because it lowers their chances of becoming a suspect in the crime. Therefore, in this example, the prostitute is a high risk victim creating a lower risk to the offender.
Moderate Risk VictimsVictims that fall into this category are lower risk victims, but for some reason were in a situation that placed them in a greater level of risk. A person that is stranded on a dark, secluded road due to a flat tire, that accepts a ride from a stranger and is then victimized would be a good example of this type of victim level risk.
Low Risk Victims
The lifestyle of these individuals would normally not place them in any degree of risk for becoming a victim of a violent crime. These individuals stay out of trouble, do not have peers that are criminal, are aware of their surroundings and attempt to take precautions to not become a victim. They lock the doors, do not use drugs, and do not go into areas that are dark and secluded.
Below is a list of variables that should be included when gathering information on a victim
- Gender & Age
- Lifestyle Habits
- Risk Level
- Leisure Activities
- Relationships: social, sexual, family
- Dating/Sexual Habits
- Family/Marital Status
- Life Insurance?
- Medical History
- Physical Handicaps
- Mental Stability
- Mode of Transportation
- Alcohol/Drug Use?
- Previous Victim?
- Criminal History?
- Victim's Reaction to an Attack - Passive/Aggressive?
After all information has been gathered, a timeline of events leading up to the crime should be created to better understand how this specific individual became a victim of a violent crime.
Brian Blackwell Investigations | Seattle, WA