Victims in the War on Crime: The Use and Abuse of Victims' Rights

Victims in the War on Crime: The Use and Abuse of Victims' Rights

Victims in the War on Crime: The Use and Abuse of Victims' Rights

Victims in the War on Crime: The Use and Abuse of Victims' Rights


Have you wondered: Why women are more sympathetic than men toward O. J. Simpson? Why women were no more supportive of the Equal Rights Amendment than men? Why women are no more likely than men to support a female political candidate? Why women are no more likely than men to embrace feminism--a movement by, about, and for women? Why some women stay with men who abuse them? Loving to Survive addresses just these issues and poses a surprising answer. Likening women's situation to that of hostages, Dee L. R. Graham and her co- authors argue that women bond with men and adopt men's perspective in an effort to escape the threat of men's violence against them.

Dee Graham's announcement, in 1991, of her research on male-female bonding was immediately followed by a national firestorm of media interest. Her startling and provocative conclusion was covered in dozens of national newspapers and heatedly debated. In Loving to Survive, Graham provides us with a complete account of her remarkable insights into relationships between men and women.

In 1973, three women and one man were held hostage in one of the largest banks in Stockholm by two ex-convicts. These two men threatened their lives, but also showed them kindness. Over the course of the long ordeal, the hostages came to identify with their captors, developing an emotional bond with them. They began to perceive the police, their prospective liberators, as their enemies, and their captors as their friends, as a source of security. This seemingly bizarre reaction to captivity, in which the hostages and captors mutually bond to one another, has been documented in other cases as well, and has become widely known as Stockholm Syndrome.

The authors of this book take this syndrome as their starting point to develop a new way of looking at male-female relationships. Loving to Survive considers men's violence against women as crucial to understanding women's current psychology. Men's violence creates ever-present, and therefore often unrecognized, terror in women. This terror is often experienced as a fear for any woman of rape by any man or as a fear of making any man angry. They propose that women's current psychology is actually a psychology of women under conditions of captivitythat is, under conditions of terror caused by male violence against women. Therefore, women's responses to men, and to male violence, resemble hostages' responses to captors.

Loving to Survive explores women's bonding to men as it relates to men's violence against women. It proposes that, like hostages who work to placate their captors lest they kill them, women work to please men, and from this springs women's femininity. Femininity describes a set of behaviors that please men because they communicate a woman's acceptance of her subordinate status. Thus, feminine behaviors are, in essence, survival strategies. Like hostages who bond to their captors, women bond to men in an effort to survive.

This is a book that will forever change the way we look at male-female relationships and women's lives.


Two phenomena have shaped American criminal law for the past thirty years: the war on crime and the victims' rights movement. These two political programs are related. The war on crime has been waged on behalf of victims against offenders; to pursue criminals has meant to pursue victims' rights. To be pro-victim was to be anticrime, and vice versa.

The very first “victims' bill of rights,” inserted into the California constitution by popular referendum in 1982, made explicit the connection between victims' rights and the war on crime. Victims' rights, so the preamble, encompassed the “expectation that persons who commit felonious acts causing injury to innocent victims will be appropriately detained in custody, tried by the courts, and sufficiently punished so that the public safety is protected and encouraged as a goal of highest importance.”

The California victims' bill of rights then went on to list three rights: a “right to restitution,” a “right to safe schools,” and a “right to truth-in-evidence.” It also announced that “[p]ublic safety shall be the primary consideration” in bail hearings. Finally, it declared that prior felony convictions “shall subsequently be used without limitation for purposes of impeachment or enhancement of sentence in any criminal proceeding.” The right to restitution is self-explanatory, and the right to safe schools purely declamatory (“All students and staff of public primary, elementary, junior high and senior high schools have the inalienable right to attend campuses which are safe, secure and peaceful.”). The right to truth in evidence was meant to force the introduction of relevant but otherwise inadmissible incriminating evidence and thereby to close a legal loophole through which too many guilty offenders had escaped their just punishment. Other parts of the referendum included a then-draconian mandatory habitual criminal statute intended to maximally incapacitate repeat offenders and a prohibition against plea bargaining intended to prevent . . .

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