What makes a person a victim? Human predators select their prey based on signals given off by their potential victims. They have learned to sense who is or is not a suitable target. Like a wild animal, the human predator wants an easy conquest and will seek out those perceived as weak, submissive, and unlikely to fight back. Predators do not want resistance and certainly do not want to be injured. A sign of strength or defiance, whether blatant or implied, is often sufficient to cause a predator to abandon the predatory process and look for a more "cooperative" victim. Predators will not select people who will confront and challenge their behavior. Rapists, muggers, abusers, and bullies look for someone they can dominate and control. However, what may dissuade one assailant may infuriate another. A defiant response may create a situation where the assailant feels obligated to carry out his or her threat or "lose face."
In 1984, Betty Grayson and Morris Stein conducted a study to determine the criteria used by predators to select their victims. They videotaped pedestrians on a busy New York City sidewalk and showed the tape to convicts who were incarcerated for violent offenses (rape, murder, robbery, etc.) They had the convicts identify people on the tape who would make desirable victims. Within seven seconds, the convicts made their selections. There was significant consistency of the people that were selected as victims although the criteria were not readily apparent. Some small, slightly built women were passed over. Some large men were selected. The selection was not dependant on race, age, size, or gender. Even the convicts did not know exactly why they selected as they did. It appears that much of the predator/prey selection process is unconscious from the perspective of both predator and the potential victim.
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