Microlevel: The Victim
Persons age 12 or older, living in the United States, experienced 34.7 million crimes in 1991, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1992). Approximately 6.4 million of these victimizations consisted of violent crimes, such as rape and assault. Also in 1991, there were approximately 22,000 murders in the United States, 2.2 million estimated instances of spouse abuse, and 2.8 million estimated occurrences of child abuse. In many of these victimizations, the distinction between perpetrator and victim seems quite clear. A woman returning to her car in a suburban shopping center one evening, arms full of packages, is attacked and assaulted by a stranger. A motorist driving at 40 miles per hour in an area with a 45 mile per hour speed limit is honked at, gestured at, and cursed by a teenage driver who passes him at 60 miles per hour. A young woman agrees to go out to a movie with a date, and later that evening, although she actively resists his sexual advances, she is raped by him. The perpetrator-victim distinction is not infrequently less sharp in the context of other instances of violence, for example, the situation of a child behaving oppositionally who is smacked in the face by his frustrated father. In still other instances, who is perpetrator and who is victim is quite ambiguous. Two men are drinking at a bar in a low-income neighborhood. One goads the other about his appearance, criticizes something he said, and challenges the other to “do something about it,” and the other drinker responds by smashing his fist into the provocateur’s nose. A husband demeans his wife repeatedly, threatens to harm her, and at the height of an episode of rage charges toward the bedroom yelling that he is going for his revolver to shoot her. She grabs a kitchen knife and stabs him to death.
KeywordsChild Abuse Rape Victim National Crime Victimization Survey Spouse Abuse Assault Victim
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