One of the fundamental terms in victimological science is the concept of ‘victimization’. From the stages of the criminal and victimological science development, two opposite approaches to the nature of the crime and victim were distinguished. The same positions were taken towards assessing the crime and victim’s role in the illegal actions. Therefore, the purpose of this literature review is to evaluate the scholar researches on criminal victimization behavioral and psychological characteristics.
Regarding the essence of the criminal victimization characteristics, Bartol & Bartol (2015) state that the character traits and actions of the victim’s body play a crucial role in a criminal situation. According to Bartol & Bartol (2015), some people tend to draw an offender, figuratively speaking, as a lamb attracts a wolf. In this case, the biological aspects of relationships between an offender and a victim are significant since the victim’s particular genetic predisposition plays a critical role.
According to another point of view, which is represented by the research conducted by Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013), the victim’s behavior is just one of the circumstances of the criminal plan emergence and implementation. In this case, the authors argue that the behavior does not bind the genetic code, the biological heredity of the individual. Thus, Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013) make up a conclusion that a victims’ behavior samples are formed based on the way of their social life and the environment where a person has been brought up. In this regard, Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013) assume that people become good or bad as a result of social development and education, but not because of their genetic inheritance of good and/or evil personal traits. The research by Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013) shows that the individual’s natural inclinations can equally well serve as gruesome, sublime, and repulsive. The authors claim that in the study of crime, it turns out that the probability of becoming a victim depends on certain personal qualities (both behavioral and psychological). Thus, victimization can be determined by either dangerous or perfect human behavior types. Also, Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013) believe that the time, place, and situation in which a victim is seen as well as the other conditions can make up the whole victimogenic situation. This point of view is similar to the opinions of Bartol & Bartol (2015).
When analyzing the psychological characteristics of crime victims, Sadeh, Binder & McNiel (2014) identify the several types of victims. The researchers come up with such a classification to highlight the connection between victimization and victims’ psychological characteristics. Thus, the authors’ first type of a victim (considering the behavioral and psychological characteristics) is referred to as aggressive. This type of victim’s behavior implies responding to the tortfeasor’s insult, slander, humiliation marked by creating a conflict situation. The second type of victims is active.
According to Sadeh, Binder & McNiel (2014), victims sometimes encourage non-controversial manner of harm or cause harm to themselves. The third type of victims in this classification is called initiative. Within this type, the victims’ psychological characteristics are regarded as dangerous to themselves. The fourth type of the victims’ psychological characteristics is non-critical, where the victims are characterized by carelessness and inability to assess the situation. Finally, Sadeh, Binder & McNiel (2014) single out the last type of victims, which is neutral. It presupposes that victims try not to cause the criminal action by avoiding it via various actions (such as ignorance, for example).
Thus, Sadeh, Binder & McNiel (2014) make a conclusion that victims of crime are often the people, whose behavior and psychological characteristics seem quite cautious. Their lifestyle is not expected to attract the attention of malefactors, and the circle of friends does not include any criminal elements. However, the authors of the investigation believe that an indicator of the victimization state is the opinion of the population about their protection against illegal encroachments.
Similarly to Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013), Sadeh, Binder & McNiel (2014) have a conviction that the majority of the criminal attacks victims of different types do not think that their behavior was improper or they made any mistakes that contributed to the fact that they have become victims of criminals. However, according to Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013), there are many people (1/3), who see such errors in their behavior (considering people who have suffered injuries, who have been robbed, exposed to extortion, including bribes). Victims of the scam actions blame themselves more often than others (47%) (Russo, Roccato & Vieno, 2013).
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According to Sadeh, Binder & McNiel (2014), self-critical crime victims frequently reproach themselves for being very trusting (19%) or showing negligence and carelessness (13%) (Sadeh, Binder & McNiel, 2014). In addition to this, both Sadeh, Binder & McNiel (2014) and Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013) state that other traits and behavioral characteristics determining a person in the ‘group of risk’ include gullibility, timidity, and weakness of character.
Another reason of victimization, which is the most common according to the statements of victims, is a state of intoxication which is both psychological and behavioral factor. Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013) show that 7% of victims mentioned that they were drunk, and it has brought them to be victimized. The same number of victims who have received damage to health recognize that they were rude and aggressive.
In general, Bartol & Bartol (2015) believe that the specifics of the criminal victimization are manifested not in the victimization of the victim of a crime, but in the victim’s behavior and their personality’s victimogenic strain. Also, most of the attacks could have remained unrealized if the potential victim in criminal cases had not succumbed to victimization. It means that the victim should not have trusted casual acquaintances and shown restraint, prudence, primary care, etc.
In the criminological literature, the concept of victimization is most often associated with the scope of crime and its consequences. The main emphasis is made on the quantitative aspect of the phenomenon. According to Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013), such an understanding of the victimization concept narrows its meaning and content. It does not consider its relationship with the criminalization of the process as well as the importance of its manifestations at the individual level.
Indeed, as all the mentioned authors state, the current situation requires a significant correction due to the fact that the statistics of the law enforcement agencies (about the accounting of the victims) is very imperfect, veiling the actual situation and the extent of damage caused to the population and the state as a whole. One can, however, assume that these processes will have different and more dynamic characteristics depending on whether the analysis is performed at the level of an individual, a social group, or society as a whole. Today, the victimology scholars distinguish between the individual, species, group, and mass victimization. The latter is best described by the degree of vulnerability, which is realized in the mass of different character and behavior traits of the individual in varying degrees thus determining offenses and causing damage. Therefore, Russo, Roccato & Vieno (2013) state that the group is a certain element of victimization, which is a special case of mass victimization.
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Finally, to sum up, it is necessary to take into account the fact that a person becomes vulnerable and ultimately victimized, as a rule, due to his/her psychological and/or behavioral characteristics. At the same time, to prevent potential victimization, it is crucial to realize the goals of consider prevention measures, which often come only with the help of the community to which a victim belongs.