Creating a Victim

I’m studying the book The Anatomy of Motive by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker about profiling in an effort to create believable antagonists. Today’s chapter led me in a slightly different direction. I found a brief section in chapter six about victims that I’d like to share.

NewImage (The “Cross Country Killer” Glen Rogers)

Most of this chapter details real-life crimes, and in the midst of a section about Glen Rogers (a sexual murderer), Douglas mentions briefly why one woman who was connected to Rogers was not victimized by him. The woman in question managed a bar. She knew how to take care of herself, she had contact with lots of people, and she didn’t let anyone walk over her. She stood up for herself. Because of these traits, Rogers was unable to dominate her, thus she was not an attractive target to him. He wanted people he could control, who were vulnerable, who had little self-esteem, who were in the midst of a major life trauma. Because he was good at reading people, he could look around a crowded bar and spot those women who met his criteria.

While this is sick and twisted for real life, it paints a fabulous picture for writers. If your victim is assertive, self-assured, and confrontational, that will speak volumes to detectives when profiling her killer. However, if your killer goes after a victim who is quiet, non-confrontational, shy, feels low self-worth, and is going through a nasty divorce, that points to a totally different personality type. Keep both victim and perpetrator in mind when building crimes and crime scenes. Nothing’s more unbelievable than mismatching victims and perps.

-Sonja

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