Theories of Victimology
o Victim blamers – victims might share the responsibility with
offender if facilitation, precipitation or provocation of the event
E.g. if you’re on the phone in a well-known place and say
you’re about to withdraw $5000 and then go to McDonalds.
o Victim defenders – it is not fair to hold a wounded party
accountable to some degree for losses or injuries that occurred.
E.g. they would say that anyone should be able to wave
around $5000 and not expect to become a victim.
- Shared responsibility:
o Facilitation – victims unknowingly, carelessly, negligently and
inadvertently make it easier for offender to commit a theft.
E.g. you told them you were going to McDonalds with $5000
o Precipitation – victim significantly contributes to the event.
E.g. shouting into the phone that you’re about to walk to
your unlocked car with $5000 cash.
o Provocation – more responsible than perpetrator for the fight that
ensued. Goaded, challenged or incited a generally law-abiding
citizen into taking defensive action.
E.g. assault and robbery because you loudly said you were
walking to your unlocked car with $5000 cash.
o Finding the causal conditions for criminal behaviour and thus
assumes that the presence of these conditions makes the criminal
‘different’ in some way from the law-abiding members of society.
Victimology – deals with measurement of the amount of
victimisation, the development of typologies of
victimisation, explanations of why some people are more
prone to it than others, and the relationship between
criminal and victim which may indicate the ways in which
victims may precipitate crime.
o Crime attributed to choice/pathology rather than the structural
inequalities of society.
o Focus on the importance of the intuition of the state and it’s
representatives in defining and sanctioning certain forms of
behaviour at certain points in time,
Left-realist criminology – reflect the reality of crime
(origins, nature and impact).
o Develops a critique of the institution of patriarchy (male power
over women). Critical criminology:
o Concerned to document victims’ lived realities.
- Von Hentig (40s):
o Theory of victimisation.
o Identified victims by examining various risk factors.
- Mendelsohn (50s):
o The Penal-Couple.
o Interpersonal relationship between the offender and the victim.
- Schafer (60s):
o Classified victims according to their responsibility instead of risk
o Moved towards victim blaming.
- Karmen (00s):
o Discusses the development of Victimology and points out that
victimologists view the dynamics of the victim’s role in society
from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Victim precipitation theory
- First identified by Wolfgang – looked at homicide (and aggravated assault
that led to homicide).
o Primary study of the nature of homicide.
o Victim precipitation.
o Studied victims and offenders as separate entities but also as
“mutual participants in the homicide”.
- The victim was usually the first to slap, punch or stab.
- The prevalence of victim precipitation in murder and assault is contrary
to the popular image that victims are totally innocent.
- Interpersonal dispute is a dominant characteristic of many homicides.
o They were engaging in some way before (insults, etc) and
somehow the victim had precipitated it and the victim status was
then imposed on them.
- Five stages of escalation (typical homicide):
o Victim makes a direct offensive verbal attack against the offender
(suggestion that 40% of victims initiate the homicide by verbal
o The offender interprets the victim’s words and deeds as offensive.
o The offender makes creates situation to get even with the victim
for the previous insult.
o The eventual victim responds to the offender’s opening with
o Commitment to battles ensues, the victim is left dead or dying
(some 35% of offenders carry gun or knives, and nearly 65% leave
the crime scene to obtain weapons).
Amir: on rape
- Analysis of police records on rape incidents in Philadelphia.
- Findings: some 19% of all forcible rapes were victim-precipitated. - Factors included:
o Seductive actions.
o Wearing revealing clothing.
o Using risqué language.
- Offender’s interpretation of actions is what was important – not what
victim actually did.
- Victim behavior and the situation which surrounds the encounter will
determine the course of events leasing to the crime.
- Victim behaviour.
- Act of commission.
o She agreed a drink or ride.
o She failed to react strongly enough to sexual suggestions.
Passive precipitation versus situated transaction
Passive precipitation. Situated transaction.