What Is A Victim?
A victim is a housewife, a college student, a go-go dancer, a model, a teacher, a nun, a virgin, a slut, a whore, a churchgoer, a caretaker, a drug user, a pervert, cop, a criminal, a social worker, a thief.
She may be sweet. She may be a bitch. She may not have deserved it. Then, again, maybe she sorta did.
What a victim is and what a victim does, doesn't matter. What a victim is and what a victim does, makes all the difference.
Over and over, we hear that the behavior of the victim is not the issue. No one deserves to be murdered. No one deserves to be raped. Even the suggestion that the victim might have in some way contributed to her unfortunate demise is considered blasphemy. It is said, to be politically correct, that the victim "may have lived a high-risk lifestyle and behaved in a manner that increased her chance of being a victim." This is a very nice way of saying the victim's personal decision to participate in risky activities and behaviors got her in trouble.
This continual whitewashing of the victim's character is detrimental to successful police investigation, profiling and trial outcome. We think we are doing women a favor when we excuse them from their behavior as if they were innocent of all wrongdoing. We are, in fact, clouding the thinking of investigators and jurors in their abilities to identify and convict the perpetrators of rape and sexual homicide.
Let's examine how this political viewpoint of women's responsibility has affected these areas.
The investigation of a sexual homicide depends heavily on accurate information about the victim. Victimology includes the past history of the victim, the personality and habits of the victim in the recent months prior to the crime, and the activities and relationships the victim was involved in the minutes, hours, and days before the murder.
The strong belief that a totally crazy boogeyman has appeared out of nowhere and for no reason murdered this totally innocent person leads many relatives and friends from informing the police investigators of dangerous activities and habits that could have set up the victim as the target in the killer's crime. Since the victim didn't deserve to be killed, then nothing she could have done should be relevant to her death.
Valuable time and leads are wasted that could have led police to the perpetrator in a short period of time. The longer it takes for truthful information to reach the police, the longer time the offender has to move, eliminate evidence, create alibis and generally be forgotten to have existed. When investigators believe this same concept of the bogeyman, they too can overlook these important pieces of information.
One must be careful, though, to not carelessly attribute risky behaviors to a motive for murder that may not be true. A prostitute is not necessarily murdered by a john or a drug user in a hit. Hitchhikers are not necessarily murdered by the people who pick them up. It is also entirely possible that none of the victim's less-than-desirable behaviors contributed in any way to her death. A drug using prostitute with a real mean streak could be hit over the head and drug into the bushes on her way home from church. The perpetrator may have no clue to her personality. She was just there.
All the elements of victimology must be thoroughly analyzed and compared before making any conclusions. Even AFTER a theory is developed, room must be left for the other possibilities, regardless of how unlikely. Paying close attention to all aspects of the victim's life (and as quickly as possible) will increase investigative leads and bring suspects to the attention of the police that otherwise would have gone undiscovered.
The issue of victim character is particularly focused on in the courtroom almost always to the detriment of the prosecution. In a strange twist of reasoning, the insistence of political correct thinking to consider any degree of responsibility of the victim for her fate has resulted in the easy game of character assassination by the defense in a court of law.
Because NO one is supposed to "deserve" to be killed and NO one contributes to the decision made by the killer to kill, then the victim must be totally innocent and the perpetrator must be totally guilty.
When the issue is seen as black-and-white, then the jury is emotionally prepared to love the victim, hate the perpetrator. As the defense presents their well-dressed, humble, intelligent, well loved family man defendant and then proceeds to chip away at the victim's "innocence" by noting that she had numerous sexual relationships over the recent months (one of the other boyfriend's could have done it), that she frequented bars (oh, yeah, she could have picked up a freak), she did drugs (a low-life drug dealer probably offed her), she was a real flirt and wore provocative clothing (she asked for it..oops..not politically correct, but, hey, maybe she was into freaky sex and s/m), and she was not very nice sometimes (geez, maybe she really upset this guy and maybe he lost it).
Now that the victim has been so lowered in the eyes of the jury, they feel guilt at sentencing Mr. Nice Guy for a crime, well, gee, for a crime that seems like ANY of the victim's acquaintances could have committed.
The truth gets lost in the emotional response invoked by "disappointment" in the lack of victim perfection. Oddly enough, it is easier to convict a murderer in a drug deal because character is not an issue for either the prosecution or defense. The killer and the victim were both criminals. Whether or not the victim "deserved" to die is not the issue. ONLY the fact that he WAS killed is the issue. The trial then focuses on the evidence, not personality. (I am not saying here that this is cut and dry. Certainly defense attorneys still play the defendant is a nice guy, etc. but the jury itself is not so conflicted as to what they should focus on as the basis of their decision of guilty or not guilty.)
The issue in court should not be whether the girl was "easy", but whether she was an easy prey that the offender could swoop down on. It should be stressed to the courts that these easy catches are practice runs for the offender to hone his skills to go after more difficult game-less risk taking individuals. When the concept of "good" versus "evil" raises it's head in a court of law, the jury loses the gray area in between. IF the defendant is "evil," THEN the victim must be "good". IF the defendant is not "good", then the defendant is "evil".
A good example of this was the OJ Simpson case. By raking Nicole Simpson's character across the coals, she moved from being the innocent party to being the guilty party. This in turn made OJ the innocent party, unjustly accused. Anyone less than totally evil could not have committed such a heinous act; therefore, OJ couldn't have done it because he is no longer totally evil (as Nicole Simpson is no longer totally innocent).
The focus of the argument in court is skewed. We should not be concerned about innocence or guilt of the perpetrator in relation to the victim). Nor should we focus on the innocence or guilt of the victim in relation to the perpetrator. We should be convicting the defendant on the guilt as to his committing the crime itself regardless of the relationship between them and in spite of any behavior of the victim that rendered her the status of victim.
Did he commit the crime?
Let's take two examples of rape occurring at the same location. Both victims claim to have been raped at a party. Both victims are college students. Both victims are Deaf. All of those attending the party were Deaf. The perpetrators were both DEAF. Both victims and both perpetrators were drinking. Victim One states she entered a back bedroom willingly with the suspect. The suspect started kissing her which she allowed. The suspect pulled her onto a bed and started removing her underpants from under her skirt. The room was dark and though she signed "no" to him repeatedly, he continued and then attempted sexual intercourse. She tried to push him off, but as she was drunk, she had little success. The suspect ejaculated quickly, got up, pulled on his pants and staggered out of the room. Did he commit a rape?
Victim Two was on her way to the bathroom when the suspect came up behind her and shoved her into a back room. He pushed her to the floor and started pulling off her clothes. She struggled, but as she was very inebriated had little strength. Each time she tried to push him off, he shoved her back on the floor. He had sexual intercourse with her, ejaculated, got up, spit on her and left the room. Did he rape her?
Both victims came to the hospital. Both had semen evidence in the vaginal tract. Neither showed any other injuries. The DA refuses to take either case to court because he claims to have no proof of rape. While both these cases fit the societal definition of rape (the male is supposed to have asked and received permission for the sexual act in question), the legal definition of rape is another matter and proving it is another matter still.
The offender must have committed an act in which the victim is forced or coerced into participating. Victim One entered the room willingly with the suspect. She did not make an effort to turn on the light which would have enhanced her ability to communicate with the male. The male pulled (not pushed) her onto the bed and although she claims she pushed on his chest to get him off, she did so ineffectively so that the suspect did not receive a clear indication of her refusal to have intercourse. During intercourse she did not attempt to cause him any kind of pain such as biting or stabbing him with her fingernails. She says she did not want to hurt him. She claims she was not particularly scared. His actions, although not welcomed, were not threatening. Because she could have taken precautions upon entering the room to ensure communication and she could have inflicted some sort of pain as an indication of objection, this victim clearly did not take action to prevent the event from occurring. The suspect may well have had no clue he was committing a sexual act against her will.
Victim Two did not enter into the back room of her own free will. She gave no indication of a desire to have sexual relations with the suspect. By shoving her into the room and pushing her to the floor, his aggression put the victim in a state of fear. When she tried to push him off, it would have been clear to this suspect she was not playing around. She feared attempting to hurt him as she was afraid of his violent reaction. As all the partygoers were Deaf, screaming would have brought no help and the suspect could have brutally assaulted her without fear of being interrupted. At the end of the sexual activity, the perpetrator spit on her, clearly indicating his contempt for her leading one to surmise the previous activity was not appreciated by the victim. There is sufficient circumstantial evidence here to prove a forcible sexual act.
Suppose both these cases actual were tried in a court of law. The jury learns that Victim One is a virgin and rarely drinks. Victim Two is rather promiscuous and is on the Pill. Victim Two also hits up a party every week. It is this profiler's opinion, that both of the victim's characters and behaviors could have led the perpetrators to the choices they made and the victims' choices of response to each act of the suspect established or negated the legal definition of forcible sexual activity.
When Victim One went willingly into the room, virgin or not, she negated that she was being forced. By not attempting to turn on the light, she negated her desire for clear communication. By not attempting to inflict any kind of injury to the suspect that would make him question her desire for the sexual act, she negated that he was forcing her.
Victim two, however, was forced into the room. That was a clear establishment that the activity was forced. If Victim Two at that point turned and signed "Hey, Big Boy, let's do it!" she would have at that point established consent and negated any forcible issue. However, his actions continued to establish that he was forcing sexual activity on her. If in the court, the court feels sorry for the virgin and doesn't think one more round of sex is a big deal to the victim, then justice will have been unjust.