INTRODUCTION Every criminal act involves a victim being attacked by a victimizer

March 15, 2019 History

Every criminal act involves a victim being attacked by a victimizer. Initially, criminologists believed that an offender was solely responsible for a crime, and hence focused on the victimizer’s actions alone. However, over the course of time, it has become apparent that the victim also plays a role in the occurrence of a criminal act, and this has given rise to the field of victimology, which studies the relationships between the victim and victimizer, and tries to determine the dynamics of the criminal act. It examines how victims contribute towards their own victimization, and whether they share any responsibility for the occurrence of a criminal act. The criminal act is dependent on a variety of factors, such as social ecology, gender, age, social and marital status, race, and ethnicity, that determine the nature of the victimization
This theory was put forth by Marvin Wolfgang, an American criminologist, in the year 1958. He proposed that, in certain scenarios, the victims themselves behave or initiate confrontations, such that the offender is provoked, precipitating into an attack on the victim, i.e., the victim sets into motion their own victimization. This observation was achieved as a result of Dr Wolfgang’s analysis of homicide cases in Philadelphia. His analysis revealed that, the victim-offender interactions or altercations were initiated due to aggressive actions of the would-be victim, in most cases. This led to the conclusion that, in any criminal act, the victim is not entirely blameless and innocent, and that the crime is a precipitation of the victim’s actions and the offender’s reaction. In other words, the victim’s actions provide criminal motivation to the offender.

In simple words this theory claims that, the victim initiates confrontations that eventually lead to his/her own victimization. This is the most commonly seen scenario in case of homicides, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. Some people may actually initiate the confrontation that eventually leads to their injury or death.

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For example. In 1971, Menachem Amir suggested female rape victims often contribute to their own attacks by pursuing a relationship with the rapist.

Example 2. A woman may become the target of domestic violence when she increases her job status and her success results in a backlash from jealous spouse or partner.

Victim impulsivity
A number of research efforts have found that both male and female victims have an impulsive personality that might render them abrasive and obnoxious characteristics that might incite victimization. It is possible that impulsive people are not only antagonistic and therefore more likely to become targets, but they also are risk takers who get involved in dangerous situations and fail to take precautions.

There are two types of precipitation;
i)Active precipitation occurs when the victim knowingly provokes the offender by way of provocative clothing, vulgar language, provocative body language, use of threats and swear words, or by minor attacks for example, A woman kills her husband due to a prolonged history of regular domestic violence. A drunken man engages in eve-teasing a woman, keeps chasing her, and eventually tries to get physical with her. In desperation, the woman reaches for any sharp object she can find, and stabs the man And, ii) Passive precipitation, on the other hand, occurs when the victim possesses behavioural, character, ethnic, or personality traits that motivate or threaten the attacker. A competing interest can also be considered passive precipitation, if it motivated the offender to attack the victim. Here, the victim is not conscious or aware of the provocation he/she provides to the offender.

Some criminologists believe people may become crime victims because their lifestyle increase their exposure to criminal offenders. An active lifestyle may not necessarily increase one’s risk of criminal victimization. For example, If there is a great deal of activity by around a residence then this activity may serve to decrease the likelihood that a property offender will victimize a residence. In fact, many property offenders are non- confrontational and want to avoid being seen by residents, neighbours, residence, or passes by (Cromwell, Olson and Avary,1991, Tunnell,1994, Wright and Decker,1994). Whether an active lifestyle leads to higher or lower risks for criminal victimization may depend on several factors. It might depend on the nature of one’s activities.


i)Single women who drink frequently and have a prior history of being sexually assaulted are most likely to be assaulted on campus,
ii)People who belong to groups are living an extremely risky life-homeless, runaways, drug users-are at high risk for victimization, the more time they exposed to street life, the greater their risk of becoming crime victims.


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