Victimology Essay, Research Paper

I entered this class I had a fairly good idea of what to

expecWhent. The title speaks for itself. Victimology is the

study of those who have been victimized. As a criminal

justice major this is a class that I must take and also a

class that I was eager to take. I heard other students speak

highly about it.

In Law Enforcement an officer?s main goal should be to

do everything in their power to keep the public safe. As the

slogan goes ? To Protect and Serve.? An officer should put

the victims or potential victims ahead of all other things.

In too many situations the police do not give enough care to

the victims. I believe this is the cause of hostility

towards the law. After a person has been victimized, they

are feeling very betrayed and unsecure. They need someone

there to comfort them and restore safety. If they are

brushed off or not handled correctly they will give up hope

in the system.

When a person is victimized they do not only suffer

injuries or loss of property they can also suffer emotional

problems. These problems can effect their families and their

performance at the workplace. In many situations the victim

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of a crime is unaware of the services that are available to

them to help them deal with their loss. This should not be

happening. All victims should be informed of the services

that relate to their problems. They should not have to

continue suffering after they are victimized.

If a victim?s case is processed through the Criminal

Justice System they may be in for even more trouble. System

Participation is known as the Second Insult. ?The system

extracts further costs as soon as people enter into the

halls of justice.? (Doerner,pg 55). Some common problems of

system participants are time loss, reduction in income, and

transportation problems. Many victims say that the

courthouse experience left them frustrated and confused.

These conditions have resulted in a lack of participation on

the part of the victims.

These problems brought about the Victim- Witness

Management Projects. This began in the mid 1970?s. This

project was started by the federal government and it

provided funding for victim- witness assistance programs.

In class we received a handout that referred to the

problem of blaming the victim. Law Enforcement workers are

taught to never blame the victim. The handout was a short

story about a man who had his horse stolen from him. When

the people of the town learned of this they placed all blame

on the man himself. They scolded him and ridiculed him for

not being responsible. They called him names and the man was

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astonished by what was happening. He asked the people why

they blamed him and never mentioned the man who stole the

horse. The people had forgot the fact that a crime had been

committed and someone had suffered from it. They focused

their attention on what the victim could have done to

prevent this from happening.

In the class we also learned the importance of

determining the appropriate punishment for crimes because of

the problem of overcrowding in the prison system. We did an

exercise of reading cases and determining what punishment

would be suitable. We were told to try to hand out sentences

that did not require imprisonment. This was very difficult

to do. In order to do this we had to take a few questions

into account. Such as the seriousness of the offense, if the

criminal poses a danger to society, does the punishment fit

the crime, and will the punishment satisfy the community and

the victim. This was a group exercise which made it even

more difficult. There were several cases that group members

could not agree on. I found it very interesting to hear the

different views on certain subjects. These types of

exercises helped the students to communicate with each other

and it provided excitement in the class. There were also a

list of punishments that were to be handed out. These

punishments ranged from probation and house arrest to

psychological treatment to the death penalty. While I was

doing this exercise I tried to put myself in the shoes of

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the victim and think what would I want the punishment to be

if I had been violated. I believe that is the only way to

truly hand out a sentence. Many people do not put enough

thought into a situation until they are directly involved.

One of the cases involved a male who robbed two banks while

on parole for a similar offense. My group handed out the

sentence of 1 to 5 years imprisonment. After looking over

the questions that would help me determine a sentence I

determined that this man was not an extremely dangerous man

because he used no force in his actions. He did have a prior

record for bank robbery so we decided he would do it again.

We thought incarceration was suitable for this offender.

Another case involved a female schoolteacher who sexually

abused two male kindergarten students. She had been abused

as a child. She did not have a prior record. My group handed

out a sentence that included intensive probation supervision

and psychological treatment or counseling. In this case we

did not feel the offender deserved to be imprisoned. The

fact that she was abused as a child weighed heavily on the

group. We agreed that her past experiences had an impact on

her actions. We also agreed that since she had no prior

record there was a chance that she could be cured through

psychological help. The last case I am going to discuss

involved a male offender who killed a police officer during

a raid on a crack house. He had five prior convictions of

possession of crack cocaine. Our group felt strongly that

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this man should receive the death penalty. This man is

definitely a danger to society, he showed no respect at all

for the law, and his prior convictions showed that he could

not be rehabilitated in jail. This exercise showed me how

difficult it is to determine sentences for criminals. I now

have a great amount of respect towards the criminal court

system. When we saw a case that involved the rape of a woman

their was a difference in responses. The females in the

class wanted a very serious punishment while the men were

more lenient. This goes back to the fact that a person does

not care as much about something until it involves them


Rape is one of the most serious crimes and women have

every right to be enraged when they hear the cases of women

who are raped. We received a handout about a woman who wrote

a letter to a judge about her assault. The women explained

how she was violated both physically and mentally. She

explained that the man who harmed her was not a stranger but

a friend . She trusted this person and never expected to be

violated in the way she was. She explained that just because

this man did not have sex with her that does not mean she

was not raped. She spoke of the problems she had after the

incident. Such as migraines, dehydration, an ulcer, and

stress related back problems. She explained that in an hour

she lost her self- esteem, self- worth, and her pride. She

felt guilt, shame, and embarrassment after what had happened

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to her. She advised the judge that the man who did this to

her should receive counseling so it does not happen to

another women. This woman showed that she is very strong by

writing this letter. She received long- term damage and was

feeling very violated. By coming forward with this

information she was preventing this type of thing to happen

to another woman. There are many situations like this where

the woman will not report it to the police. Many women feel

to embarrassed to come forward. They get a feeling that they

are somewhat at fault. The victims believe that the police

will not believe them and treat them with inferiority. A

police officer should show the most compassion for a rape

victim. It not only helps the woman deal with her pain but

it will encourage other victims to come forward.

The class also did an exercise where we were asked to

act as a police officer who has been called to the scene of

a rape. We were also asked if we thought the officer in the

story took the right steps at the call. There were many

facts in this case that made the officer suspicious. When he

approached the door a woman came out who he knew was a

prostitute. She was not the person who reported the rape but

her friend inside was. The officer was told that the woman

was not a prostitute but her clothing gave off the

impression that she was. She did not appear to be injured

and the apartment did not reflect any recent violent

activity. She did know the name of her assailant. She

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described him as an acquaintance. This gave the officer more

suspicion that she was a prostitute. The officer told the

victim that it would be in her best interest if she did not

continue the allegations. He said that a jury would laugh

her out of the courtroom. He also told her that it would be

a waste of time to go to the hospital for a checkup. The

officer tells the known prostitute to make sure that her

friend gets payment in advance next time. Two days later the

officer finds out that there is a rapist on the loose in the

same area of the call. He raped a minister?s wife and

matches the description of the man at the earlier call. This

officer has made a big mistake. He made an assumption that

these women were lying. He should never have told them that

it was not worth it to continue the process. This officer

was very lazy and did not do his job. A police officer

should care for and provide the best service to anyone that

asks for it. He put himself in a situation that could have

been avoided. If I were in this situation I would admit my

mistake. The testimony of the first victim could help the

police in finding the criminal.

Every officer should go on each shift with the

intention of helping the victims in every way possible.

Officers do make a difference while they are on patrol. If

they do everything in their power to help people. It is

beneficial for officers to form personal relationships with

the victims. Many people look at the police as different

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than them. A personal relationship shows the victims that

they are human.

Domestic violence is also a very serious subject. There

are many households that may seem totally normal but in

reality are very dangerous environments. Victims of domestic

violence also tend to keep quiet due to fear of their

spouse. They also have the feeling that no one will believe

them. These victims have the feeling of imprisonment. 30 %

of all female homicides are results of domestic violence.

Another problem in today?s society is the abuse of the

elderly. This act is most likely the least reported of all

crimes. Officers must be aware that it can and does happen.

These victims look for pleas for help. One in every twenty

elderly are abused each year. That is approximately 1.5

million elderly who are harm in some way. The most

disturbing fact is that the majority of elderly people who

are abused are abused by members of their own family. This

is tough for me to believe. I do not understand how a

someone could take advantage of the person who took care of

them their entire life. This is the most cowardly act I can

think of. Family members force the elderly to give them

money and other financial benefits. They threaten the

elderly and in most cases the elderly have no choice but to

do as they say. This type of crime is not reported very

often. They are told that they will be harmed if they tell

anyone of the incident. During one of our sessions we had a

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substitute named Detective Milano. I enjoyed the classes

that he filled in for. I feel he challenged the students in

the class to think and express their ideas on certain

situations. I got the impression immediately that he was

very open to confrontation. A few students in the class were

very set on their ideas about the police and how they are

treated by the police. I feel he handled this situation very

well. Of course it is natural for a police officer to defend

his own. He impressed me by the way he spoke to the

students. At no point did he show that he felt he was more

important than the students. He simply stated his points and

stuck by them. There is a misconception that all police

officers are close minded and narcissistic. He proved to me

that this is not true.

He also told us a story that gave me some doubts about

the system. The story was about a murder that took place in

a Kentucky Fried Chicken. The man was caught by the police

and sent to trial. Evidence was found of the man?s footprint

on the store counter. He was also caught on tape talking

about the murders. His sister told the police that she

recognized his voice. There was also a witness that

testified against this man. He was found not guilty. The

match of the footprint was only 99% correct. This makes me

think if justice was served in this case. An innocent man

was killed while doing his job. He lost his life and his

family lost a loved one. They have to live the rest of their

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lives knowing that the man who did this is on the streets

and has the opportunity to do it to someone else. All of

this because the footprint was 99% correct. I feel when

something like this happens we are all victims. Not to the

extent of the family of the man who was murdered. We have

been victimized by the system.

Another exercise that I found very effective in the

class was when six students were asked to act as panel

members and one student acted as a judge. Each student was

given a handout and was required to act as the person in the

handout. This exercise was challenging because it did not

allow the panel members to express any personal ideas. The

panel was restricted to following the beliefs of the person

in their handout. Each panelist presented their facts from

reading the handout. The panelists were then subject to

questions from the other panel members, the judge, and the

audience. It was difficult to do this while keeping in mind

that your answers must be the answers that your subject

would have given. It was also difficult for the judge. He

was required to read all six cases and ask questions to each

one of the members. I believe this exercise helped the class

in many ways. It taught us to always be open minded when

looking at a crime. It also helped the class develop better

communication skills with each other. I also thought it was

very beneficial for the class to deal with the pressure of

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having to answer questions and give reasons for their

actions. I hope exercises like this can help me in the

future in the field of Law Enforcement. I think learning to

work under pressure is a key aspect of becoming a police

officer. For some people it comes naturally but I believe it

can be learned and improved through experience. Some of the

panel members had a more difficult time than others because

they had more controversial cases. All of the members worked

hard and handled themselves very well. I hope I can take

part in similar exercises in my future classes.

We also did an exercise that at first seemed elementary

but turned out to be rewarding. When we were given a handout

on a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon I did not know what to think.

This exercise was very helpful for the students to associate

emotion with victimization. The class was asked to read the

handout and identify the feelings that the family had after

having their house robbed. Although this was a cartoon it

helped the class understand that victimization is not only

loss of property or injury. It does much more harm to people

when they feel they have lost safety. Victims are totally

unprepared for the devastating problems they are about to

face. They try to make sense of the actions that harmed them

and ask the question why. Everyone who comes in contact with

a victim will have an effect based on the statements they

make, the questions they ask, their reaction, and their

nonverbal messages. This is why it is very important for

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police officers to show compassion and comfort the victims

of a crime in all circumstances. Depending on what type of

crime a person suffers the extent of trauma will vary. An

officer must know how to deal with each victim in each


In this class we also learned that humor can be

utilized as a way to solve your problems. Geo the Clown was

a guest in this class and he showed us the importance of

laughter in all parts of life. When a person is victimized

they get the feeling of loneliness and hopelessness. Humor

can give them the feeling that they had before they were

victimized. Even if it is for a short period.

I am very satisfied with the experience I received from

this class. I learned a great deal on how victims of a crime

feel, and how to help them to lead a normal life. I would

recommend this class to all students especially those in the

criminal justice field. There are many lessons to be learned

and applied in Law Enforcement. This class is a great way to

do that.

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