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Victimology

This study, devoted entirely to victims, is a fairly new field within criminology. According to the text, which is currently out of print, The Crime Victim's Book, by Morton Bard & Dana Sangrey, the victim goes through 3 stages of recovery. They are: 1) the impact stage, where the crime has just occurred and the victim may be numb; 2) the recoil stage, when what has happened finally "hits" the victim, causing them either to go into denial and dissociation, refusing to accept reality or to continually relive the trauma, "rehashing" the details: and 3) the reorganization stage where things seem to be get better and yet the victim is still having flashbacks, especially in the case of those who have repressed the memories. This may be the time the victim finally gets into therapy.

There is a problem with "secondary wounding" by caregivers, family members, agencies, and society, due to a lack of understanding of the recovery process. This is especially true in the recoil stage when people grow weary of the fact that the victim cannot move on.

With this information, we can see why there would be "secondary wounding" in the reorganization stage when everything seems to be "forgotten" and the person seems to be "putting it behind them" and going on with life. But things are not as they seem. The victim begins having flashbacks, (You can learn more about flashbacks by clicking on the link below) which throws their life into a turmoil and makes them feel as if the crime has just happened.

Another form of "secondary wounding" is victim blaming. The reason this occurs lies deep within history and religious beliefs. When the victim is "in our face" with a fact which shatters our myths, we can't handle it and need to come up with a reason.

In the 16th century the Protestant ethic held the belief that a person's success and good fortune was a sign of God's grace. Therefore, those who suffer must have disappointed God in some way.

We have a similar modern belief that if you act good, nothing bad will happen to you. Therefore if something bad happens then you must have been acting bad. I have heard many a woman say,"I've been so nice to them, I've lived a good life, I've done my best, why did this happen to me?"

When a rape victim is "in our face" with the truth that our world is not as safe as we had thought, we need to find an explanation. This is why people say, "She shouldn't have been there at that hour of the night wearing what she was wearing, drinking what she was drinking." When a high school girl is raped by a high school boy who is a "friend" to everyone, the girls are more unsupportive than the guys because the victim is reporting something that is a direct threat to them. Either they may have been raped by him or by someone else or they know they are vulnerable too. So it is a lot safer for them to say she is lying or that she "asked for it" or that she did something else "wrong".

With this in mind we now can see why it is so difficult for a victim to recover. Victimology works to assist this process by helping all involved with the victim, to understand the process and be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.

And added note here: we now have a bulletin board for you to use to share your recovery story, in a link below.

Books Related to Victimology
Kinds of Abuse
Compassion Fatigue
Memory Retrieval
Flashbacks
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