Ideal Victim – Essay Plan


  • Male rape victims are far from ‘ideal’ discuss or analysis of the ideal victim.


  • Less attention on male rape victims than female. Much more discussion on men raping women and the effects this has on woman. But men raping men isn’t often a ‘hot topic’.
  • Male rape victims can be described as the ‘silent victim’.
  • Firstly, discuss what is meant by an ‘ideal victim’ – Christie, N., 1986. The ideal victim. In From crime policy to victim policy(pp. 17-30). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  • The ideal victim is ‘a person or category of individuals, who, when hit by crime, most readily are given the complete and legitimate status of being a victim‘. [1] In other words, there are some individuals who are considered more deserving of victim status than others.
  • The ideal victim is weak in relation to the offender – woman are weak in comparison to men.
  • A victim is blameless and vulnerable.
  • So, when comparing men and women and who is more deserving of the ‘ideal victim’ status is could be argued that women are more an ‘ideal victim’ than men. This could be due to the pressure of social norms and how society deems a male to be strong, powerful and can be seen as being more powerful, more successful than women. Therefore, when women are raped by men society can often blame ‘power’ – men wanting to show their dominance and believe they are worthy of sex and that woman should want to have sex with them. However, want about men raping men? Woman sexually abusing men? It happens. It’s just talked about as often.
  • You can also briefly touch on domestic violence and how men can also be victims of domestic abuse – we are hearing more about this in the press (physical and mental violence but not so much sexual violence).
  • Think about Christie’s argument – he paints a picture of what the ideal victim looks like. He paints a picture of the little old lady who, on her way home from caring for her sick sister, is hit on the head by a big man who robs her for alcohol or drugs. He identifies five attributes of ideal victim hood: (1) the victim is weak (female, elderly), (2) the victim was carrying out a respectable project (caring for her sister), (3) she could not be blamed for where she was (she was in the street during the daytime), (4) the offender was big and bad, and (5) the offender was in no personal relationship to her. Furthermore, he also observes that the victim must be able to command just enough power to establish their identity as an ideal victim but ‘be weak enough not to become a threat to other important interests’.
  • You can read more about Christie’s argument; this article offers a straightforward explanation of what he meant by the ‘ideal victim’
  • “The ‘ideal’ victim is the one generating the most sympathy from society. In some cultures, the ideal victim would be the little old lady on her way home at midday after caring for her sick sister, hit on the head by a big man who grabs her purse and uses the money to buy drugs. In contrast, a victim far from society’s ideal would be a young man in a bar hit by an acquaintance. This victim would probably receive less sympathy even if his injuries were more severe. Society’s responses to different types of victims also show that victims must have power and visibility if they are to gain legitimacy as victims. Society has varying perceptions of offenders as well as of victims. Most real victims and real offenders are ordinary people, not the ‘ideals.’ However, the ‘ideal’ victims are the people who tend to fear crime. A greater role for victims in the criminal justice process would be an important way of giving victims and offenders closer contact and more realistic views of one another”.

Analysis of the ideal victim

  • Using the information above – discuss in further detail the sociological definition of a victim.
  • You can then begin your analysis of the ‘ideal victim’ discussing Christie’s argument on how society see a ‘victim’. It is important at this stage to touch on the surrounding connotations of a victim – for example, ‘innocent’ ‘vulnerable’ ‘easily manipulated’.
  • Children, women, disabled people, the elderly can often be deemed as vulnerable members of society – does this makes them the ideal victim?
  • Is there such a thing as ‘the ideal victim’ surely anyone can be a victim? We are all a victim at some point in our life.
  • We can be a victim of bullying, violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, physical violence, theft, cyber bullying, neglect, manipulation. When talking about being a victim you don’t have to specifically focus on violence. Of course, you can go down this route if you find it easier to discuss but there is a broader picture you can look at as an alternative to rape or violent. It depends which question style you wish to choose.
  • Regardless there is lots to discuss from Christie’s argument and the picture he paints of the ideal victim.
  • Proposed statement ‘all victims should be ideal victims’
  • “It seems like the ideal victim theory has a certain kind of bias that anybody could be ideal. Ideal based on what? What would be the criteria? Too often that fits into socio-economic, demographic, regional [characteristics]—all those things fall into what’s “ideal.”Then when we get to the next word, “victim,” you talk about who is the victim and to what degree have they been victimized. We’ve been wrestling with this issue in college rape [cases]: “What was she wearing? Why was she at the party? How much did she have to drink?” When you start thinking about this ideal victim, too often you have a gender bias, you have a culture bias, and you have all these other biases” (Vice, Josephs, 2017).

Who is the deserving victim? Why are women more of a deserving victim than men?

  • Discuss the differences between men and women using the information provided above. Why women are deemed to be the ideal victim and why men are far from ideal.
  • The “ideal” victim has been typically viewed as the “deserving” victim, who evokes perceptions of “innocence” and sympathy that elicit public and political support for the use of public resources for victim services, including financial compensation.
  • Green, S., 2012. Crime, victimization and vulnerability. In Handbook of victims and victimology(pp. 107-134). Willan.
  • You can discuss sexism, power, social norms surrounding both men and women, the social pressures men face to be deemed as powerful.
  • Lad culture and sex.
  • How offended men can be if a woman doesn’t want to have sex with them – the portrayal of dominance. But why just men? What about women? Why do we have these views on men and not the same for women? This is all down to social norms and expectations.
  • You can discuss the gender debate.
  • It is important to talk about men are thought of in society in comparison to women with regards to sex and relationships. With such a strong LGBT presence in the media now – what makes male rape victims so different to female rape victims? Discuss same sex relationships.

Victim Narcissist

  • At the core of a narcissists a combination of entitlement and low self-esteem. These feelings of inadequacy are projected onto the victim. … Narcissists also engage in insidious, manipulative abuse by giving subtle hints and comments that result in the victim questioning their own behaviour and thoughts.
  • Break the above statement down.
  • Start with ‘entitlement’ – with regards to rape men are often deemed to be the ‘narcissists’ towards women. They commit such a crime to project this feeling of entitlement and dominance over their victim. ‘Low self-esteem’ can also play apart – feeling rejected and handling this rejection in a toxic and violent manner.
  • ‘Manipulative abuse’ – if someone can be easily manipulated they may also be seen as vulnerable or innocent making them the ‘ideal victim’ – is a man vulnerable and innocent in the eyes of society?
  • When we think of ‘men’ do we instantly think innocent and vulnerable?
  • When we think of ‘women’ do we think innocent and vulnerable? The answer is probably not anymore due to such a significant shift in society with regards to gender roles and norms.
  • I think it is important at this stage to argue that anyone can be a victim and anyone can be the narcissistic criminal.

Example Literature

  • Jägervi, L., 2014. Who wants to be an ideal victim? A narrative analysis of crime victims’ self-presentation. Journal of Scandinavian studies in criminology and crime prevention15(1), pp.73-88.
  • Christie, N., 1986. The ideal victim. In From crime policy to victim policy(pp. 17-30). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  • Gotell, L., 2002. The ideal victim, the hysterical complainant, and the disclosure of confidential records: The implications of the charter for sexual assault law. Osgoode Hall LJ40, p.251.
  • Williams, J.E., 1984. Secondary victimization: Confronting public attitudes about rape. Victimology.
  • Van Wijk, J., 2013. Who is the ‘little old lady’of international crimes? Nils Christie’s concept of the ideal victim reinterpreted. International review of victimology19(2), pp.159-179.
  • Cross, C., 2018. Denying victim status to online fraud victims: The challenges of being a “non-ideal victim”. Revisiting the ideal victim concept, pp.243-63.
  • Bosma, A., Mulder, E. and Pemberton, A., 2018. The ideal victim through other (s’) eyes. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Whyte, D., 2017. Crime as a social relation of power: Reframing the ‘ideal victim’of corporate crimes. In Handbook of Victims and Victimology(pp. 333-347). Routledge.
  • Zaibert, L., 2007. The ideal victim. Pace L. Rev.28, p.885.
  • Schafer, S., 1968. The victim and his criminal: A study in functional responsibility(Vol. 34). New York: Random House.
  • Downes, D., Rock, P.E. and McLaughlin, E., 2016. Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking. Oxford University Press.

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