Victimology

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Overview

Solving complex cases requires revisiting the law, understanding past cases, learning what the law entails, and providing a feasible approach towards arresting the offender. As much as the law guides the protectors of the law with resources useful towards apprehending such criminals, much still lacks in the ability to execute investigations feasibly. The case discussed in the study presents a major turning of understanding offender/victim relationship; hence, further equipping the library, or school of thoughts concerning the offender relationship with the victim. The study delves in understanding the relationship between the offender and victim, and probably try to detect what motivated the offender to abduct, isolate, blackmail, intimidate and abuse the victim a procedure identified as being, emotional, social, and psychological abuse. Given the growing cases of minors being abused without their consent and forced under coercion to submit to the offender demands, the Elizabeth Smart case opens stronger arguments in allowing the society to understand the offenders objectives. Scholarly evidence will be useful towards the growth of the argument.

Victimology

Describe the type of crime

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the case of the Elizabeth was filed as a case of Kidnapping. Under the Federal Kidnapping Act, the crime’s act became law in 1932, following the theory behind the Lindberg Law. The Lindberg Case is a criminal offence involving kidnapping and murder of a toddler Charles Lindbergh’s. Some are entrenched deeply in the Bill of Rights. Other state, or federal laws clarify the case as of Elizabeth as a federal offence. In this case, man and wife, Mitchel and Wanda Barzee, held Elizabeth captive. Elizabeth captivity lasted close to the nine months.

Describe the victim

In June 5th, 2002, the 14 years old Elizabeth Smart was forced out of her house by Mitchell. Mitchell claimed to be a religious prophet who had special interests in Elizabeth. She was later blackmailed into accepting Mitchell’s religious views and even accompanied them in public places (Smart and Stewart, 2014). The victim was kept under passive duress; however, later accounts indicate that Mitchell raped Smart several times a day, as well as being starved, but fed with alcohol and drugs. However, a massive regional search was undertaken by Laura Recovery Center conducting the investigation on DNA and Fingerprint scans. The investigation led to the discovery of Elizabeth through her sister Mary Katharine who recognized the abductee voice as a family known as Emmanuel. On March 12, 2003, women who recognized her photo from the news reports identified Mitchell, and the woman accompanying her identified as Elizabeth Smart (Smart et al., 2004). Mitchell was arrested and a series of legal prosecution sentences revealed that Mitchell had kidnapped Elizabeth Smart.

Demographics

Factors related to social class, gender, ethnicity, and race of the offender

In the basic American setting, such as in this case, the case of Mitchell and Elizabeth – Utah, there is abundant social freedom some that were abused. Utah has a total population of 3.1 million individuals and its largest city the Salt Lake Metro has a population of 1.15 million people. The incidence happened in Sandy City in Salt Lake County, a city with 87,461 people. Both Elizabeth and her captors can be said to be middle class, as Elizabeth was captured in Federal Heights Neighborhood of Salt Lake City. According to the Katherine Elizabeth’s accounts, Mitchell is said to be a man about the height of 5,8, similar to that of Elizabeth’s brother. He is a man of 30 probably 40 years. Mitchell, Barzee, and Elizabeth were both of Caucasian origin, as Mitchell presented himself in an image closer to that of Jesus. Mitchell was a close family member to Elizabeth as described by Katharine. Mitchell would have been motivated to attack Elizabeth because of the Caucasian background, accompanied by the aggressor religious views and demographic set up. It is believed that Mitchell had raped Barzee, daughter, repeatedly and even molested a 3-year-old son from a previous relationship. Utah and Salt Lake, in particular, have developed infrastructure that made young girls such as Elizabeth vulnerable to kidnaps.

Factors related to social class, gender, ethnicity, and race of the victim

In deriving the issue of Elizabeth, one can easily note significant socio-economic, ethnicity, gender, and race issues that might have influenced the abductor to kidnap the abductee. Utah has a vast class distribution with some members of economy drenched into struggling economic class that constantly abuses drugs such as Mitchell. The young are vulnerable because of the wide protestant based religion that was rigid towards their growth. Several mixture models noted by Becare and Priest (2018) indicates that, equip abductees with a perfect camouflaging formula useful in recreating socio-emotional outcomes that have higher standardized assessments that are detrimental to the society. For instance, Mitchell was seen as a committed religious figure since Utah and the Federal government, in general, allows diverse religious presentations.

Victim’s experiences in the criminal justice system

From the criminal justice structure, abductors have diverse ways of approaching, retaining, coercing, indoctrinating, and abusing the victim. Mitchell approached Elizabeth at Knifepoint, coerced her to leave with him, retained and isolated her from the general public, indoctrinated her that he was a religious figure and what they were doing was religious work, and abused her repeatedly via fear-based believed systems and rape. Such accounts might vary on the other cases where the abductors are interested with money, might kidnap the victim for a few days, or at most weeks, while others from a different ethnic, or social class might not be interested in raping the victim. Other victims might use common brutality such as whipping the individual, or leaving him, or her chained up, Mitchell moved in public with his captor.

Victim/Offender Relationship

Explain the victim/offender relationship (if any)

Mitchell approached his victim Elizabeth by scaring her with a knife and later abducting slowly indoctrinating her to servant/master relationship. He also applied violence where necessary, which culminated in coercing the victim to agree to, forced religious views, isolation, and multiple rape incidences. The repeated incidences of threats, intimidations, and blackmails forced the victim to believe and remain in isolation for nine months. The relationship went on unidentified to the general public for the same period, not until, Katharine provided a general description of Emmanuel another name of Mitchell.

Relationship between the victim and offender

Several crimes are involved in this case, with the primary ones being abduction and rape. The relationship between Elizabeth and Mitchell might have influenced the type of crime following its area of occurrence, Sunday Utah, and the Knife as the weapon used for the crime. Elizabeth a girl of 14 years can easily be threatened using a knife as well easily indoctrinated to sexual slavery through religious objectives. According to close relatives, the offender had perfected skills of sexual molestation to vulnerable ages. The connection between the victim and the criminal; therefore, was based on the degree of intimidation applied, with similar accounts of threats and blackmail. Hence, when it came to the main offences such as rape, prolonged isolation, Mitchell easily executed them without resistance from Elizabeth. As well, it is important to examine the offender type where Mitchell committed multiple incidences of rapes; in this case, the multiple rapes towards his stepdaughter are similar to the multiple rapes incidences towards Elizabeth. The underlying lesson is the power/anger framework useful in categorizing rapists helping in understanding rapists from emotional perspectives. The relationship between Mitchell and Elizabeth is considerably unique considering the power/ anger framework categorizing the rape incidences. In addition, the repeated incidence is courtship where Mitchell as the offender was in pursuit with the victim to achieve some personal gratification. Understanding the offender’s interactions with their victims remains a principle where the jury can pass significant personal biases concerning issues of victims especially in relation to facilitation, precipitation and culpability while determining issues amounting to the occurrence of the offense.

Effects

Psychological, social, and emotional effects

There are psychological, emotional, and social effects of victimization that have led to the prolonged kidnapping of Elizabeth. For instance, Mitchell coerced, threatened, intimidated, blackmailed and raped Elizabeth, which made the latter develop fear of approaching and resisting the victim, or even seeking support by contacting the authorities. As well, Mitchell and Brazee starved Elizabeth and even provided creational drugs and alcohol, all which impaired her judgements when rounds of rapes, or isolations were enacted by her kidnappers. Although Elizabeth used to visit public places, her mind was kept isolated by the fear that her captors enacted at private places.

Short and Long-Term Effects

The three effects, psychological, social, and emotional threatened and scared Elizabeth forcing her thoughts to abort and instead, they were replaced by fear-based believe systems. The effects can be characterized in the long and short-term basis. For instance, the emotional effect was the youngest, as it was through Elizabeth irrational emotions that Brazee managed to kidnap Elizabeth at knifepoint. The social effect plays an integral role in isolating the victim from the main society, later used in intimidation and blackmail executed by Mitchell and his wife. The combined impact of social and emotional effect leads to a prolonged psychological impact, where Mitchell is conditioned to live in fear based believed systems that his abductors were righteous to the extent of agreeing to sexual slavery.

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Perceptions

Explain how the media portrayed the victim.

Media portrayed the victim as helpless and unable to resist her captors’ emotional, social, or psychological abuses. The media views Elizabeth as psychologically damaged individual undergoing periods of the trauma due to her captor’s actions.  Further descriptions of the individual especially at the time of discovery, it is clear she was not properly kept and was isolated from the public; by the way, she was addressed. Besides, the media elevated the Elizabeth Smart case because they presented her as a vulnerable teenager who had least mechanisms of defense. The media was concerned about the clarity of justice being executed considering the broad factors that led to the case. Furthermore, the media focused on the element of the religious delusion since such would further emphasize on the vulnerability aspects associated with the kidnapping.

Explain if there was any victim blaming

Elizabeth Smart currently works as a missing children activists, especially young and vulnerable teenage girls who would be immediate sex slaves. Several victim stories arose from the extent of media publications. High profile women have shared their stories publicly indicating that like Elizabeth they are victims of sexual slavery and kidnapping. Evidence from Cosslet (2018) quotes one pushy woman who described Elizabeth Smart as having been slutty and wore proactive clothes. Cases of victim blaming enable a healthier investigation process unveiling the criminal profiling strategy. As well, social workers working on public policy develop have a higher possibility of understanding criminal mental behavior.

Explain possible impact (positive and/or negative)

Positive and negative impacts of the media coverage to the victim and probably friends and relatives are evidenced in this case. Having an extensive media coverage enable women with similar cases to communicate them to the larger public. Such is appropriate for the general community psychology, as well as scholarly efforts within the academia (Revenson, 2002). The negative impact, for instance, a discourse of women who think Elizabeth Smart might have sexually provoked Mitchell also indicate a section of the media believes that rape manifests due to periods of sexual provocation. The media presents a liberal discussion platform one that helps in comparing the diverse opinions of the wide public; hence, provides insights to legal amendments. However, one cannot ignore the role played by the media because the experience of the case improved later judgements in relation to understanding offender and victim relationship. Cases where the offender bonds psychologically with the victims have proved to be resources in validating the motives of crime. In Elizabeth Smart cases, theory can tell Mitchell had an affection with Mitchell and he motivated his wife that kidnapping and raping her repeatedly would give him significant satisfaction.

Elizabeth Smart kidnapping occurred on the second floor, a floor secured with alarm systems on the first floor in upscale neighborhood where there different types of workers. However, neighbors did not recognize Mitchell images from the media outlets indicating parents have little access to news outlets. The question of negligent or paranoid parents therefore takes center stage. Such parents rarely teach teenage children basic security and personal defense skills. As well, vulnerable neighborhoods rarely generate attention to security details not until an incidence similar to that of Elizabeth Smart takes place.

Services

Beneficial Services available in the state of the victim

Elizabeth has prolonged psychological disorder; in this case, trauma was a result of repeated periods of social and emotional abuse. There are services available in the state of the victim that can help her defeat social and emotional fears. Services such as National Domestic Violence, Disaster and Distress Helpline and the office for Victims of Crime are beneficial resources useful in Elizabeth enabling her to overcome repeated incidences of violence and trauma (Sarda, 2016). Part of these resources provides hotlines that Elizabeth, or her friends and relatives can contact and request help against abduction, distress, or trauma.

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Services are not available to the victim

Recent resources such as the Internet, or social media might have been important to the victim, but are not beneficial now. If in any case, Mitchell had access to Smartphone devices; it would have been possible to communicate her position to friends who would help her. Resources such as Child Abduction Remedies Act (P.L. 100-300), might not have been directly useful because they centre their claim on international cases. Recently, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) provides useful authority that can extend consular protection for nationals. The VCCR heavily specializes in the special recognition leading to the protection of minors based predominantly on their vulnerability (Fam.state.gov, 2018) The International Criminal Court Hague and other several US, Laws, Regulation, and Executive Orders provides services that might protect naturalized citizens from forms of abduction. Furthermore, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) helps in recognizing and adjudication of child custody further helping the state judicial mechanism to determine the extent of Mitchell crimes.

Secondary Victims

Describe any secondary victims of the crime

Katherine Mary and Mitchell stepdaughter are secondary victims in the case. Katherine witnessed the first-hand abduction of her sister Elizabeth an incidence that occurred at knifepoint. The secondary trauma Katherine faces is the level of insecurity facing Salt Lake City, where young girls are kidnapped and go missing for several months. Mitchell stepdaughter faces repeated rape, although her case qualifies as secondary because her accounts were not communicated earlier as expected.

Effects on the secondary victims of the crime

The minor affected persons facilitate the unveiling for further evidence on physical and mental descriptions of the attacker. Katherine description and eventual aiding of the drawing of Mitchell portrait provides sufficient resources in pursuing the kidnappers. Besides, the description provided former Mitchell stepdaughter provides justification that the offender might be suffering from sexual immorality as a disorder that encourages him to attack children. Soothill, Francis and Ackerley, E. (2007) supports such findings, as they are essential in the process of criminal profiling if by chance the offender is camouflaging as an innocent individual. Criminal profiling has proved an efficient way to understand traces of crime, hence it is easier to arrests an offender for screening. Evidence provided in the case of Elizabeth vs. Mitchell, it is clear Mitchell preferred sexually abusing children, and at one time in his life, he had abused his daughter in law without remorse. The underlying records revolve the library of detailed records helping criminal investigators to understand the nature of the offender without necessary meeting such people.

Legal Aspects

Laws or policies resulting from the Crime

The public outcry resulted in several legal amendments and new adoptions. On February 27, 2014, Utah lawmakers approved a law that gave the basic schools power to train parents and children on how to avoid any form of sexual harassment. The House approved HB286 passed 73-0 against the bill. Republican representatives Angela Romero of D- Salt Lake City sponsored the law. Romero was also cited saying, it is important to educate children on how to say ”No”, and other phrases like ”this is wrong” and ”I am not comfortable with it” (Archive.sltrib.com, 2018)

Implications for social change

The laws are the fabrics that governs how the society works. In the case of Elizabeth Smart, the new laws are meant to alter social behavior and attitudes empowering children to understand the morality of different elements within the society. The implications of social and legal order are deeply entrenched on the parties’ thorough knowledge of the legal options and resources as well as legal norms useful as being replaced by the existing social norms within the different higher status of various interventions. Strengthening the social penetration of elite norms, especially on the role of sexuality, gender, and race enables parents to take full control in educating their children concerning the power structure of the society. As evidenced by the recent laws, drafting transformation bills the drafters serves as change agents that are significant and imply to the different facts derived from Elizabeth Smart (Revenson, 2002). As well, for the school of thought, Elizabeth Smart case and subsequent laws, opens new dimensions on how human beings approach the law. The legislation should be seen as a fabric of preventing conflict in the society, but not solving such conflict. However, extensions of solutions exist as well.

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Social Change

Social change implications

There are strong social change implications of the crime being publicized, as well as related laws and policies that resulted from abducting of the Elizabeth Smart. First, teenagers all over the United States were taught the value of learning to protect themselves. Secondly, for social workers and activists, the case and the related laws have raised their bar of operations.       Thirdly, for legal authorities, the FBI and state police departments have an added advantage of understanding how criminals operate. Given the growing extent of violence, gender, and social change avenues opened by Elizabeth Smart, including the conflicts between warring groups. The law equips the authorities with resources that will be useful in identifying possible offenders and even engage easier strategies for apprehending criminals. The implications identified here are based on quality and efficiency of authorities towards identifying crime patterns. For example, it would have been easier to apprehend Mitchell earlier when he used to rape her stepdaughter, subsequently preventing the occurrence of the Elizabeth Smart crime. As such, the Elizabeth Smart case will allow states to avoid the negative repercussions of abductions such as,

  • Capital punishments
  • Exposure of victims to unprepared deaths
  • Reduced corporate productivity
  • Collapse of corporate institutions
  • Reduction of gross domestic products and relative gross national product of the nation
  • Hindrance of opportunities because of the growth of different social vices
  • Hindrance of an investment climate

Also, advise from Fink and Pingle (2012) advocates on insurance covers for people who think they can be vulnerable from offender relationship, where in this case, the insurance aids towards treating the victim from trauma caused by the offender.

Conclusion

As evidenced, the kidnapping, abuse, and final rescue of Elizabeth Smart changed how the authorities approached offender/ victim relation. The case of Elizabeth Smart indicated how vulnerable teenage groups could be; hence, reigniting the discussion to what extent is their defense proved. The attention brought by the media played a crucial role in allowing the jury to study the procedure of crime. Given the case of Smart, it was a prolonged series of abuses as recorded above, including, emotional, social, and psychological abuse, it is important for the jury to study an array of crime, the mental state of the victim, and offender. There is also the question of serious felonies, including abduction, rapes, isolation, and starvation including giving drugs and alcohol to a minor. As noted, the case of Elizabeth Smart was prolonged because the authorities did not have a template to refer too. However, as illustrated, the Smart’s case provides a template where the authorities can refer too when they lack sufficient resources. Besides, the case empowers the common law associated with several Kidnapping Acts at the federal level as well as significant amendments to the Utah law courts. Such an approach helps to divert from several problems facing the criminal justice system, include poor eradication of diverse social problems, gang violence, cybercrime, terrorism, and pornography. However, the most important reflection is the role of the media towards educating the offender/ victim relationship. As illustrated, the victim offender relationship exists at different levels. In incidences where sexual enslavement is involved, the offender and victim might be suffering or engaged to periods of psychological distress in what can be referred to as sharing. However, as much as the media has provided resources useful in educating the masses concerning offender/ victim relationship it is clear the information is not shared enough given that parents do not take media accounts seriously.

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  1. sltrib.com. (2018). As Elizabeth Smart watches, Utah House passes sex abuse billThe Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 7 February 2018, from http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=57607852&itype=CMSID
  2. Becares, L., & Priest, N. (2018). Understanding the Influence of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Class on Inequalities in Academic and Non-Academic Outcomes among Eighth-Grade Students: Findings from an Inter sectionality Approach. Retrieved 7 February 2018, from
  3. Cosslett, R. (2018). How do sexual assault victims feel when the media fails them like this? | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslettthe Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/03/sexual-assault-victims-newsnight-media-blaming-victims
  4. state.gov. (2018). 7 FAM 1710 INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTIONFam.state.gov. Retrieved 7 February 2018, from https://fam.state.gov/fam/07fam/07fam1710.html
  5. Fink, A., & Pingle, M. (2012). Kidnap Insurance and Its Impact on Kidnapping Outcomes. SSRN Electronic Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2160354
  6. Revenson, T. A. (2002). Ecological research to promote social change: Methodological advances from community psychology. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.
  7. Sadowski, P., Sutter, R., Silvers, N., Roth, B., Baker, D., Frost, L., Marshall, A., … Echo Bridge Home Entertainment (Firm). (2008). The Elizabeth Smart story. LaCrosse, WI: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.
  8. Sarda, M. (2016). Death Penalty in Kidnapping and Abduction for Ransom Cases: A Critical Study. SSRN Electronic Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2758052
  9. Smart, E., & Stewart, C. (2014). My story. New York : St Martin Press
  10. Smart, E., Smart, L., & Morton, L. (2004). Bringing Elizabeth home: A journey of faith and hope. Waterville, Me: Thorndike Press.
  11. Soothill, K., Francis, B., & Ackerley, E. (2007). Kidnapping: a criminal profile of persons convicted 1979–2001. Behavioral Sciences & The Law25(1), 69-84. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bsl.684
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