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While this chapter asserts the importance of studying the victim, forensic victimology has largely been overlooked as an important component of crime scene analysis. There can be no doubt that part of the reason for this absence of attention is because it is not easy to study victims. In fact, there are many circumstances under which profilers and investigators will be actively discouraged from doing so.
First, there are emotional challenges. The coping mechanisms of overtaxed, underpaid, and undervalued detectives, investigators, and forensic personnel involve continuous doses of personal detachment and dissociation from the victim and the horrible things that they have suffered. The victim is compartmentalized and seen as an object. The victim’s body, living or dead, and all of the terrible things that it has endured, is regarded as evidence to be analyzed and catalogued. The advantage of this coping mechanism is that there is no emotional investment, no opening up to be affected by the pain and suffering of a fellow human. The disadvantage is that we risk surrendering our humanity when we regard victims and their suffering as objects.
This document has been peer reviewed.