Essentials of Victimology

I. Study of Victimology

Victimology is an integral part of crime scene investigations and it aims to correlate associated factors with particular relevance to the pre-, during, and post-event itself, with the general aim finding out the perpetuator of the crime. Victim studies or victimology is a science albeit it is a minor one under applied criminology and the ‘study’ generally endeavors to create ‘constructs’ on the victims — their financial environment, possible enemies, family background, health, physical characteristics, etc. — such that the in-depth examination or investigation can assist in finding out the crime-perpetuator efficiently and effectively. Victimology is not just a one step ladder method; in fact, it involves a complicated morass of things which one way or another may be in/directly connected with the criminal case in question.

The subsequent paper will construct a detailed analysis on the different facets of investigation involved in victimology and/or during the investigative processes involved with the crime event. Additionally, it also aims to find out why such lucrative processes must be undertaken and the methods involved during the investigative processes of the crime scene. Victim selection and acquisition is not supplemented by the paper.

II. Why study victimology?

Victimology, as an intrinsic component of the investigative processes, is very important during the investigative part, because it constitutes half of the criminal offence and because it provides possible insights on the crux of the crime. The thorough study of the analysis of the characteristics of the victim or the victim-profiling (Turvey, 1999), is not just a part of the crime but can provide as an eye-witness (in live victims) for the criminal act and at most, provide the best behavioral and physical description of the offender. Methods involved in criminology also suggest efficacy and organization involved during investigation. Victimology applied to the current restorative justice system and the ever-changing society can provide for crime control and risk reduction and prevention.

III. Profiling the Victim

Victim profiling is commonly associated with eye-witness accounts, evidences, surveys and interrogations. Specifically, victim profiling generally implicates the following: (1) physical traits, (2) marital status, (3) personal lifestyle, (4) occupation, (5) education, (6) medical history, (7) criminal justice system history, (8) last known activities, including a timeline of events, (9) personal diaries, map of travel prior to offence, (10) drug and alcohol history, (11) friends and enemies, (12) family background and (13) employment history.

These are not the end-it all in victim profiling; in fact, investigations of the victims are normally associated with investigating the offender such that end-result generated is finding out the ‘motive’ behind the crime scene. Common queries involved with the investigation are: “Is the crime opportunistic or accidental?”, “Why was she/he targeted?”, “What is the approach of the criminal?”, and/or “How did the victim react to the offender?” Profiling the victim then can be equated to a thorough investigation of a psycho-social event with multiple characters involved.

Currently victim profiling has evolved to adapt new technologies for forensic assistance such as DNA fingerprinting (e.g. blood or hair samples). It is an efficient addition to the reliable method on autopsy reports and dental records analysis aside from the normative interviews of witnesses and background profiling of the victims. Consolidation of information from the crime scene (e.g. autopsy reports) and eye-witness accounts creates ‘inferences’ pointing to the potential criminal/offender. What is essential about victimology is that it creates ‘narrowing down of possible offenders.

III. Methods of the Offender and Victim Risk

Victimology necessitates the study of the offender and generally, the methods involved are studying the methods of attack and methods of approach of the offender (Turvey, 1999). Con, surprise and blitz may be used singularly or in combinatorial patterns by the criminal. How does the offender attack the victim? Studying the methods of attacks of overpowering the victim alongside methods of approach can provide a veritable picture of the offender.

Attacks, per se, are measured by force and presence and roles of weaponry or gadgets. Are the attacks simply mild or verbal or physical? Attacks provide insight on the capability/or capacity of the criminal. In any case, the approach and attack methods are separate venues of study although it can be combined afterwards to provide an outlook of the sequence of events and contextual information. Victim risk occurs at different magnitudes ( e.g. low-, medium- and high risk) and this indicates the ‘willingness’ of the offender to take on the particular victim using his/her modus operandi (Douglas, 1992). Victim risk and magnitude is directly correlated to the lifestyle of the victim.

IV. Conclusio

Victimology cannot be distangled from the crime scene operations since it constitutes a major component of the criminal investigations. It provides efficacy and accuracy of the information provided from the victim by using the age-old method of data collection which can point to the crime perpetuator or the offender. Victimology involves not only the study of the victim (or the so called victim profiling) but also the methods undertaken by the offender against the victim and the risk of the crime. Honing victimology then may provide a leeway for an improved criminal and/or justiciar system.


  • Turvey, B. E. Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis. London: Academic Press, 1999.
  • Douglas, J. E., Burgess, A. W., Burgess, A. G., & Ressler, R. K. . Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crimes.  NY: Lexington Books, 1992