A victim is a housewife, college student, go-go dancer, model, teacher, nun, virgin, slut, whore, churchgoer, caretaker, drug user, pervert, cop, criminal, social worker, 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. Or, 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. When pushed, it might be admitted, in a politically correct manner, that the victim "may have lived a high-risk life-style that increased her chance of becoming a victim." This is a nice way of saying the victim's personal decisions and behavior got her in trouble. Her unfortunate choices range from opening the door without knowing who is on the other side, jogging at dusk, or working the streets as a prostitute.
The continued white-washing of the victim's character, and the refusal to examine her actions, can make it harder to find, profile and try attackers. We think we are doing women a favor when we refuse to acknowledge that their behavior helped make them victims. 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 with in the minutes, hours, and days before the murder.
The desire to believe that a totally crazy bogeyman appeared out of nowhere and, for no reason, murdered this totally innocent person, keeps 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.
This belief wastes valuable time and leads that could have led them rapidly to the perpetrator. The longer it takes for truthful information to reach the police, the more time the offender has to move or eliminate evidence, create alibis and generally disappear under the radar. When investigators accept this bogeyman theory, they too can overlook important information.
Still, investigators mustn't carelessly attribute risky behaviors as factors leading to a rape or murder. A prostitute is not necessarily murdered by a john, nor is a drug dealer always killed over drugs. Hitchhikers aren't necessarily murdered by the people who pick them up. It's 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 dragged into the bushes on her way home from church. The perpetrator may have no clue to her personality or lifestyle. She was just there; a victim of opportunity.
Because no one deserves to be killed, and no one contributes to the killer's choice of victim or decision to kill, then the victim must be totally innocent and the perpetrator must be totally guilty -- a hard case to prove.
When the issue is seen so black and white, the jury is emotionally prepared to love the victim and hate the perpetrator. Then the defense presents their well-dressed, humble, intelligent, well -loved family man defendant. And then it proceeds to chip away at the victim's character (Jasmine Fiore, right, the model killed by her quickie-Las Vegas-marriage hubby) by, say, noting that she had numerous sexual relationships over the recent months (one of the other boyfriends could have done it), 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 he lost it).
Now that the victim has been so degraded in the eyes of the jury, they feel guilty if they put Mr. Nice Guy Defendant away for a crime, well, gee, for a crime that seems like any of the victim's acquaintances could have committed or that the victim herself encouraged.
The issue in court should not be whether the girl was "easy," but whether she was easy prey, a vulnerable target for the offender. It should be stressed to the courts that these easy catches are often practice runs an offender uses to hone his skills before he goes after more difficult game --people with less risky behavior. When the concept of "good versus evil" raises its 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 victim is not "good," then the defendant is not "evil" -- and neither gets justice.
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. In this profiler's opinion, both of victims' characters and behaviors could have led the perpetrators to the choices they made. The victims' choices of response to each suspect's acts established or negated the legal definition of forcible sexual activity.