Scenarios for the Curriculum 1. Joy is a 20-year old woman. She was in a 3-year relationship with her former high school sweetheart. The two dated for two years, then were engaged, and briefly lived together. Citing differences in values, Joy broke up with her boyfriend on July 5th. He did not take the breakup well, and attempted to talk to her. He called many of her friends and family. On July 12th, Joy agreed to see him again to try and work out the problems. This conversation did not go well, and Joy told him she did not want to see him again. On July 16th, Joy spotted her ex driving by her home. She altered the police, and officers spoke with the ex, advising him not to try to see her again. On July 22nd, he showed up at Joy’s place of work, waiting by her car for her to come out. He never used violence against Joy, but on more than one occasion he threatened suicide.
Questions for this scenario:
1) What should the officers have done when Joy initially contacted them?
The officers should have discussed with her the history of violence, if any existed, and considered whether just speaking with was enough. The officers might have put into place a trespass notice against him to communicate the seriousness of their demands. They might have also reached out to his parents if possible to try and communicate the seriousness of the situation.
2) What sort of threat does the boyfriend pose to Joy?
Given that he has never used or threatened violence against her, one might say he poses no immediate threat of violence. However, given that he is threatening suicide and is demonstrating some impulsiveness, the situation becomes more serious and one must assess the threat level with this in mind.
3) What are some of the reasons that Joy might not want to cooperate with police?
She dated the man for quite some time, and probably still has some good feelings about him and for him. Likewise, because of how close she is to the situation, she may not be aware of the risk. She may also feel some responsibility for his altered state, even if she should not feel that responsibility.
2. Mary showed up to work on the morning of August 1st with bruises on her arms. She looked as if she had been crying. A co-worker noticed and asked her what happened. She claimed she had fallen and that she was alright. Two weeks later, she missed work because of a medical problem. It was later discovered that she had a broken arm. She called the police to report that her husband of 12 years had pushed her. When officers came to ask her questions, she claimed this was not correct and that she was on pain medications when she gave the initial report. She refused to cooperate with the investigation.
1) What actions must investigators take to ensure the woman’s safety?
Officers have limited options in cases where the victim absolutely refuses to cooperate. While protective orders may be appropriate in some instances, if the woman is not seeking one, the officers cannot simply issue one.
2) How can officers encourage the woman to take action?
Because the pressure to keep the family together and the fear of violence are both real, officers could encourage the woman by telling her that they will keep her safe if she needs to file a report. Building trust is the key element to fostering better cooperation.
3) Why do women sometimes refuse to cooperate with police?
The reasons are many. In some cases, they are living under threats of violence. In other cases, they have a form of Stockholm Syndrome where they are unable to break free from the influence of their partner.
3. Melody was jogging one night in her neighborhood when a man approached her. He knocked her down, stood over her, pointed his weapon at her, and screamed that he wasn’t leaving until she gave him all the money she had. She screamed and let him know she did not have any, and he told her he was going to come back and kill her. A car began to approach, and the man ran away into the woods. Melody called police to report the incident.
1) What can officers do to protect Melody in this situation?
Officers may be able to monitor Melody’s property both to make sure she feels safe and to ensure the best chance of catching the culprit if he happens to return.
2) What psychological issues might she deal with?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is real in crime victims, especially when they are victimized in their own spaces. She may deal with flashbacks as a result, so officers must be very careful when trying to get information from her.
3) Can Melody offer a correct eye witness identification?
Often, in traumatic situations, eye-witness testimony is notoriously unreliable. Melody may not be able to identify the man, even though he was right in her face and even though she thinks she got a good look at him.
Criminology is the study of crime, its causes, and its effects on society. Victimology is different. It studies the way crime can impact victims. Victimology is an element of criminology, but there are distinct differences between the two. Officers must understand criminology in order to better deal with people who commit crimes and to prevent crimes from happening. At the same time, an understanding of victimology will allow officers to treat victims with the respect they deserve, and help them from experiencing more harm. Importantly, an understanding of victimology can also help get more cooperation from victims of crime.
The proper treatment of crime victims is critical. Often, the system can treat them as tools, disposable when they become non-useful again. Officers must be able to identify the issues victims are dealing with, especially when discussing female victims. Interviews must be conducted in a way that makes the victims feel safe. It must have some understanding of the stresses of being a victim. Likewise, protective orders should be issued liberally to protect women, and officers should act quickly to make arrests so that women do not get victimized further. Often, assailants will take action if they feel a woman called the police. Making quick arrests helps to protect women in this scenario.
- McEvoy, K., & McConnachie, K. (2012). Victimology in transitional justice: Victimhood, innocence and hierarchy. European Journal of Criminology, 9(5), 527-538.
- Turvey, B. E. (2013). Forensic victimology: Examining violent crime victims in investigative and legal contexts. Academic Press.
- Walklate, S. (2013). Victimology (Routledge Revivals): The Victim and the Criminal Justice Process. Routledge.