Through the Eyes of Criminals, Ways Not to Be Singled Out
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.