Like a lion seeking out its prey, criminals also seek out their victims by looking for certain signals such as body language, attentiveness, and the way one is dressed. How does one avoid being a criminal’s next target? According to Psychology Today Magazine, in an article title “Marked for Mayhem” there are ways of knowing who is most likely to be a criminal’s next target and how to avoid giving of the type of signals that attract criminals.
Criminals choose their victims randomly. There is even a field of study called victimology. The definition of victimology according to Wikipedia is:
Victimology is the scientific study of victimization, including the relationships between victims and offenders, the interactions between victims and the criminal justice system — that is, the police and courts, and corrections officials — and the connections between victims and other social groups and institutions, such as the media, businesses, and social movements. Victimology is however not restricted to the study of victims of crime alone but may cater to other forms of human rights violations that are not necessarily crime.
One of the central concepts of victimology is “risk continuum.” Risk continuum defines the degrees of risk a person may have when being singled out for criminal attack. The risk factors are one’s career, lifestyle, relationships, movements and even one’s personality. These are expressed in one’s behavior and demeanor. Some factors that cause one to be singled out are obvious. These factors include flaunting cash, wearing expensive jewelry, and walking alone in deserted areas. Then there are others that people don’t always take into account such as: posture, walking style and the ability to read facial expressions.
Even though the criminal is the one that is solely to blame for his or her behavior, the victim unknowingly gives of signals that make him or her, a more likely target. Therefore, being aware of which cues criminal use to single out their victims can reduce the likelihood of being a victim.
In a study, researchers Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein asked convicted criminals, who were imprisoned for robbery, rape, and murder to view a video of pedestrians on a busy New York street. The researchers asked the criminals to list who they would have singled out as their target. The criminals pretty much agreed on who would be their most likely target. This insight into the criminal mind could be a very valuable defense for most of us. Like a any predator, criminals assessed their victims in terms of who was easiest to overpower. These people will be their most likely victims.
What distinguished the likely victims from the rest of the pedestrians was their posture, body language, pace, length of their stride, and overall awareness of their environment. Criminals judge a person’s level of self confidence by the style of their walk, such as a walk that lacks interactional synchrony, wholeness, organized movements, and a flowing motion. This signified to the perpetrators that the pedestrian lacks self confidence. On the other hand, those who walked fast and fluidly were less likely to be victimized.
Sexual predators seek those they can easily overpower. Rape is mostly motivated by a desire to control, rather than sex. They look for someone who is not paying attention and seems easy to over power. Let us not forget, that location also plays a key role in rape. Secluded places are often preferred venues. Women who are victims of rape are less likely than average to interpret non-verbal facial clues. Rapists however, are very good at interpreting non-verbal facial clues, such as a downward gaze or a fearful facial expression.
Even though it is thought that women who dress provocatively are the most likely to be rape, studies show that women with passive, submissive personalities are more likely to get raped. These women tend to wear clothes that are concealing such as high neckline, long pants and long sleeves. This may sound ironic but, predatory men can identify submissive women by their style of dress.
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There are a couple of things a woman can do to protect herself if she live alone. They are less like to attack a women’s home if she has a dog, even a small dog can be a deterrent because they make noise. Another wise defense is to make it look like you are living with a manly man. This can be achieved by having a pair of construction work boots on your front porch or landing. Even if you’re not living with a man, you can always get a pair of construction work boots, have one of your male friends wear them our out a bit, by maybe getting some mud on them so they looked worn. This trick may be a life saver, since most rapists confess that if they saw a pair of work boots on the front porch or landing they would walk right by. Rapists are normally cowards and they don’t want to get into a fight.
If you are intoxicated by drug use or have had a few drinks too many, you are more likely to be a victim of a robbery or rape. Criminals see people who are inebriated as easy to overpower. Therefore, if you plan to go to party make sure you go with someone else and don’t go to any solitary venues. When a woman is intoxicated she can give of signals that can be interpreted by rapists as sexual interest.
Criminal do not only target who they can overpower, they also tend to target those who they resent. Criminals often view life as unfair and feel victimized by the success of others, because it reminds them of their own failures. When they see people driving fancy cars, flaunting material possessions, or displaying a cocky superior attitude, defined as flossing, criminals become infuriated and they want to balance the scales by attacking the person. Not being flashy is another way to reduce one’s risk.
Here is a check list of ways to avoid being a victim:
- When visiting a place near a high crime area it is wise to dress modestly, and try to park in an attended parking garage.
- Be alert, be aware of your surrounding, avoid talking on your cell phone, make brief eye contact with those around you, don’t stare or look scared.
- Walk with purpose, always project confidence and that you know where you are going. If you must ask for directions ask a store clerk, don’t ask other pedestrians. Don’t stop people on the street.
- Don’t let other people stop you, if someone asks you for directions, keep moving. Avoid following strangers.
- If you must walk alone in a deserted venue, try to walk in well lit areas.
- When approaching your car be sure to have your keys in your hands and be sure to check the passenger seats before getting in your car.
- Don’t flash money, this is not to be done whether you inside or outside a place of business. Robbers often look for those carry large amounts of cash to assault once they are alone.
- I personally recommend having a small bottle of pepper spray attached to your key chain. This can, at least, give you some time to run for help.
- When leaving your home, let someone know where you are going and your estimated time of arrival. This way if something does happen to you, the police already have a lead where to search for you.
- When driving somewhere, try to use main roads and avoid taking short cuts. It is not safe entering into an unknown area, even to save time. Some shortcuts go through bad neighborhoods and this could make you an easy target.
- If you are targeted the best way to survive with the least harm is to cooperate with the robber. The quicker you comply and give them what they want, the quicker they leave you alone. Even if the object is valuable or has sentimental value, objects are replaceable, your life is not.
Although there are no guarantees that one will not be singled out as a victim, there are ways to reduce your risk. In today’s world one can never be sure, whether or not they will ever be a victim of a violent crime. Therefore, it is wise to take whatever steps necessary to reduce the risks of becoming their next target.
Cuban Queen on November 22, 2014:
good reading. May i suggest dead bolt locks, keep doors locked during day time if female alone home, when in shower or bed keep windows down and locked and doors. keep cell or phone with you in bedroom or bathroom.
EL FAKO NAMO on February 06, 2014:
Am I the only one who noticed that the robber sounded like, "HARBLARGABLARGH!"
Internetwriter62 (author) from Marco Island, Florida on January 07, 2012:
Thank you Artzgirl, thanks for sharing that is very interesting, especially since I have long hair. I guess I will have to live dangerously, because I like it long. It's a pity that life has to be that way, but it is.
Camaron Elliott from San Diego on January 06, 2012:
Good advice. Also, I had read a few years ago-- that there is one characteristic that seems to be very prevalent in random rape victims. The majority of them had longer hair, than short hair.
Internetwriter62 (author) from Marco Island, Florida on April 24, 2011:
Thank you HealthyHanna, You are absolutely right and I see that you are not only smart, but a big believer in prevention. I imagine having to deal with criminals on a day to day basis gives you an insight on this matter, that most people don't have. You are a very brave woman. I'm sure that when they trained you for your job, they taught you how criminals think. I found the sources I researched very good in the way that the information can save most people from taking unnecessary risks, I wish it was a safer world, but since it isn't wisdom is a necessity.
HealthyHanna from Utah on April 23, 2011:
Very interesting. I work in a State Prison. I understand how important it is to know the things you put in this hub. I hope more people will read it and put the suggestions into practice. None of us think anything bad will happen to us if we are good people, but bad things do happen to good people. We need to be wise as owls.
Internetwriter62 (author) from Marco Island, Florida on August 15, 2010:
Thank you captainchris, the criminal mind is often a mystery. I just hope no one has to be a victim of it.
captainchris on August 15, 2010:
Very thoughtful hub.
Can't underestimate what is going inside the minds of these crooks and how far would it go.
Internetwriter62 (author) from Marco Island, Florida on May 24, 2010:
That is true, it is important to check your car when entering your vehicle.
Denise on May 22, 2010:
You provided some great information, another tip I would add would be to look in your backseat before getting in your car. I lived in Los Angeles for 7 years and now I reside in central California and I always watch where I am going and take my keys out before I leave the store. If I have groceries, I look in the cars surrounding my pick-up to ensure no one is in the vehicles, if they are I go to the other side of my truck to load the groceries as well as to look up and around after each bag is loaded. Thank you for watching out for us ladies.
Internetwriter62 (author) from Marco Island, Florida on April 30, 2010:
Thank you Jtrader, I really appreciate your kind words, I'm glad you liked the topic, since I feel it may help many protect themselves better.
jtrader on April 30, 2010:
Congrats. Your hub was well written and your topic, well-chosen.
Internetwriter62 (author) from Marco Island, Florida on April 20, 2010:
Thank you MyWebs, Wow you have had some pretty nasty experiences. I'm glad you were able to walk away unharmed. Houston is one tough city. That is a very good idea, I will add the advice on not taking shortcuts and sticking to main roads.
Anthony Goodley from Sheridan, WY on April 20, 2010:
You have very good advice here! I believe you have covered everything I have learned over the years about how to stay safe.
Giving the person what they wants really could save your life. Some of these crazy people will kill you only for failing to comply with their wishes. I have had a gun pulled on me on 2 occasions and a gang surrounded me with knives another time, all in Houston, TX. I walked away unharmed each time.
Ok one thing I would add is: Always stick to the main roads. I once got in trouble by wondering off down a side road in a bad neighborhood that was less traveled, this is where I found myself surrounded by a gang with knives.
Internetwriter62 (author) from Marco Island, Florida on April 20, 2010:
Thank you SandySpider, Sree1987, and De Greek.
Sandyspider when I read that article I thought the tips for women that lived alone where excellent so I wanted to pass those along.
Sree1987--I was looking at the term victimology on the internet and it takes on several meanings. It may have to do with crime, but it also has to do with nations and people. It is a very broad term because it deal with a variety of victims and it is a very interesting branch of study. I'm glad you like the hub.
De Greek, I do believe that the world is not becoming a safer place, in fact with unemployment on the rise and all the problems in the news, it is useful to know how criminals view the pedestrians and how not to be statistic.
De Greek from UK on April 20, 2010:
sree1987 from India on April 20, 2010:
Starting from VIctimology, it is really a nice one..
Thanks for the hub.
Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on April 19, 2010: