Victims of a Serial Killer
- Vangerlena Smith
Violent crimes happen to certain individuals or groups every day. Sometimes the victims have the same characteristics, and sometimes there is no trace of recidivism pertaining to the victims at all. Some of those characteristics may include sex, gender roles, age, ethnicity, economic status, goals, education level, area of residence, stature or body type, etc. There is one particular case where the victims had similar characteristics. The case is that of Jeffrey Dahmer, a famous serial killer who lured, killed, and dismembered all of his victims’ body. All of Dahmer victims were male, mostly African American. According to the research I have done majority of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims were hitchhikers, travelers, homosexuals, in some type of desperate need, or in the areas where Dahmer resided. He never went out of his way to go and find his victims; they just of sort of came to him. They were all also obviously young because he would meet them in clubs, bars, or at parties. The ages of the victims are listed as follow: 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, 33, and 36. Dahmer also had victims who had a chance at living. Before he became the serial killer that he is known as today, Dahmer was arrested multiple times for fondling and molesting younger boys in public plays; such as, fairs, carnival, etc.
In the following paper the nature(s) of the crime that Dahmer committed will be addressed. How to deal with the victims and their families on a micro, mezzo, and macro level will also be explained. Also, as any human being, social workers have personal values and ethics that sometimes conflict with those of their professional values and ethics.
Nature of the Crime
The violent gruesome acts of what Dahmer did to his victims could fit many natures of crime. Dahmer’s first victim was a nineteen year old hitchhiker whom he just picked up. Later the two got drunk and engaged in sexual activities, and the victim simply wanted to leave afterwards. Dahmer did not want him to so he killed him, dismembered his body, and disposed of him. This is where the pattern started. The previous information shows that one of the natures is obviously control. It was said that Dahmer never really had any friends, so he was a loner. He obviously got the victim drunk so he would become totally vulnerable to the situation, so that he could take advantage of the victim. The victim deciding to leave was totally out of Dahmer’s control, so he made it where he was in control; he hit the victim over the head with a dumb bell where he then proceeded to kill him. It’s debatable that Dahmer’s first murder was unplanned, so the sense of control that he felt afterward his first murder, he wanted to continue to feel. This is the starting point of his recidivism.
“Sadism, a term introduced by Krafft-Ebing (1898) late in the nineteenth century, originally referred to sexual pleasure derived through inflicting pain and suffering on others. Over time, the term was expanded to include nonsexual enjoyment derived from sadistic acts” (Marten & Kahn, 2011)
Dahmer acts also could be labeled as perversion. For some of the victims they did not willing have sex with the offender. Also, some sexual acts were also done to some of victims’ corpse after death. Dahmer, in his teen years had struggled with his homosexual desires; combined with his years of being a loner, he decided to just take actions and deal with those desires. Lastly, the nature of Dahmer’s crime could be labeled as revenge. As stated earlier, Dahmer was a loner growing up. Yes, he had sexual desires like any other human being, but no one wanted to engage with him in any type of way because he was seen as an outcast. It could be possible that Dahmer’s act on his victims could have been one of revenge from earlier stages of his life.
Micro, Mezzo, and Macro Levels
Assessing the victims, families, community, and nation on the level of micro, mezzo, and macro scales is a critical level in evidenced-base practice. According to Hull & Ashman (2012): “Practice with individuals is considered as micro practice, practice with families as micro/mezzo practice, practice with group as mezzo practice, and practice with larger systems, including organizations and communities, as macro practice” (Ashman & Hull, 2010).
Dealing With the Situation on a Micro Level
On the smallest level, the micro level, for this case it is much easier to start with the live victims of molestation and fondling. This level could be used to work with the individuals to get some understanding on how they are coping with what had happened to him and also throw out suggestions. I’m sure at this level it’s easier to find out what each of the young men are probably wondering why did this happen to them, and what did they do to deserve it. On this level, it’s easier for a social worker to handle because they get to work with the individual one on one. In a mezzo group setting the victim may be ashamed to open up about what happened to them, and in return never get the proper help they need for moving on or coping. Some victims who has had things done to them and never told or got properly treated sometimes become the perpetrator of that same crime later on in life.
According to Davis (1991): Dahmer’s probation officer noted that, “When Jeffrey was eight, his father said, a neighborhood boy had sexually molested him. Perhaps this may be the reason why Jeffrey has sexuality issues” (Davis, 1991).
So Dahmer’s actions are a product of child molestation, and what could possibly happen if one stays quiet.
It is also important to work with the individual family because family support when dealing with these types of things is vital. The social worker could encourage the family to do things such as, not help the victim stay the victim. They can do this by not treating the victim like something’s always wrong. Of course it’s a given that they will probably never forget the incident, but the reminder of it does not help them cope. For those who lost their lives as victims of Dahmer, families could be assessed individually on a micro level as well. Everyone has a different experience when it comes to death of a loved one, so they cope in different ways. It would be very inaccurate to marginalized them all into one category and help them to all cope in one way. It isn’t possible. Also, close friends, neighbors, teachers, classmates, could all be assessed on an individual level; depending on the level of closeness to the victim.
According to Social Work License Map (2012):
“Micro practice is the most common kind of social work, and is how most people imagine social workers providing services. In micro social work, the social worker engages with individuals or families to solve problems. Common examples include helping individuals to find appropriate housing, health care and social services. Family therapy and individual counseling would also fall under the auspices of micro practice, as would the medical care of an individual or family, and the treatment of people suffering from a mental health condition or substance abuse problem. Micro-practice may even include military social work, where the social worker helps military service members cope with the challenges accompanying military life and access the benefits entitled to them by their service. Many social workers engage in micro and mezzo practice simultaneously. Even the most ambitious macro-level interventions have their roots in the conversations between a single social worker and a single client” (Social Work License Map, 2012).
Dealing With the Situation on a Mezzo Level
Mezzo is the level of assessment dealing with group settings. Pertaining to the victims of Jeffrey Dahmer; this is where a social work could get all the molested victims in one room, and maybe have them share their experience and how it affected them. There is such a thing called self-help groups and in these groups the individuals all have something in common. Within these groups they help one another cope with the particular problem. They sometimes do this by expressing their feelings. If these victims could come together and talk about how Dahmer affected them, they may just be able to move on. Also, on this level the victims along with their families could be assessed. Once assessed on a micro level, if the individual could open up about how they were affected to their families, then maybe the family would know how to assist them in helping them cope. “Those skills used in working with individuals provide the foundation for work with larger groups, organizations, and communities” (Ashman & Hull, 2010). One victim may not want the family to baby them because of what happened to them; where on the other hand, another victim may need that extra attention from their parents, siblings, etc. For the deceased victims, their families could also be assessed together. They need to know how one another feel, to emotionally support each other about the loss of their loved one. For instance, if a couple’s child was one of Dahmer’s victims they may deal with it differently. The husband may keep it boggled all in and the wife may cry all the time. Well they need to know how to communicate with those different feelings to help one another maintain emotional stability. The husband could comfort the wife during her times where she feels as if she wants to cry. On the other hand, the wife could encourage the husband to talk about his feelings more often, or at least let him know she’s there if he ever feels the need to talk about the loss.
According to Social Work License Map(2012):
“Mezzo social work practice deals with small-to-medium-sized groups, such as neighborhoods, schools or other local organizations. Examples of mezzo social work include community organizing, management of a social work organization or focus on institutional or cultural change rather than individual clients. Social workers engaged in mezzo practice are often also engaged in micro and/or macro social work. This ensures the needs and challenges of individual clients are understood and addressed in tandem with larger social issues” (Social Work License Map, 2012).
Dealing With the Situation on a Macro Level
On the Macro level, a social worker deals with the community which consists of the families, individual victims, close friends, etc. In the community where Dahmer did all his murdering, could rise up a scare amongst some people and be of a shock to others. On this level, a social worker could be effective by going to meet with parents and plan ways that they could make the community a safer place where their children could live, play, etc. Setting up a neighborhood watch team, parents making sure they know where there children are going when they leave home, and making sure that the children be alert of strangers are all ways in solving some of the problems in a community of uproar. As for the community of Dahmer’s victims who didn’t survive, a social worker could advocate for more police security in that area, just to watch for things of suspicion. Because not only were those communities afraid of Dahmer, but they were afraid that there were more killer out there like him. This is where the macro level gets broader. What Jeffrey Dahmer did to his victims become known nationally. This created worry all over the United States. How would social workers address the issue to a community as broad as the whole nation? First, they could brainstorm ideas for the nation to keep themselves self. For example, they could encourage people not to hitchhike at night. They could also warn that all hitchhikers should not be picked up as well. As stated before, another safety precaution is that parents know where their children are at all times. For those who are of age, encouragement to not leave from clubs, bars, parties, etc. with strangers would be a great gesture. A killer who has the intent to kill cannot be dissuaded to kill, but those who could possibly fall victim could set up precautions for their safety to prevent the incidents that happened to Dahmer’s victims from happening to them.
According to Social Work License Map (2012):
“The practice of macro social work is the effort to help clients by intervening in large systems. Examples include lobbying to change a health care law, organizing a state-wide activist group or advocating for large-scale social policy change. Macro practice is one of the key distinctions between social work and other helping professions, such as psychiatric therapy. Macro social work generally addresses issues experienced in mezzo or micro social work practice, as well as social work research. Macro practice empowers clients by involving them in systemic change” (Social Work License Map, 2012).
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All in all, every victim, their family, their friends, etc. could be assessed on either a micro, mezzo, or macro level. Not all people are going to deal with every crisis the same way, so they should not be expected to cope the same way. Some don’t mind speaking in group settings where others may want to talk on a more individual basis. In the Dahmer’s case the level of macro got as broad as the United States, but in some cases the issue on a macro level could become global.
Ethical Issues/Values Conflict
As a social worker I would personally be all for the victim, not matter the evidence behind what Dahmer did. For example, Dahmer had some psychological issues so that calls for the need of treatment. As far as professional value goes, it’s clear after a psychological evaluation was done that Dahmer needed help; however, my own personal values says that he was not right for taking the lives of innocent people, therefore he should spend the rest of his life in prison. For the same reason, I would also want him to spend his life in prison because some of those victims were teenagers. Also, not only did he kill all of his victims but he removed the flesh from their bones, he cut some of their hearts out, crushed their bones, had sex with the corpses; that is completely inhumane.
According to O’meara (2009): “Dahmer drilled holes in his living victims’ heads; poured in chemicals to “zombify” them, had sex with the corpses’ viscera, and kept some body parts in his refrigerator, occasionally eating them” (O’Meara, 2009).
As for the victims, I think it would be unethical, so to speak, of me to say that they could have prevented things from happening to them; such as, not leaving the club with Dahmer, not leaving with a stranger period, not getting drunk and falling into a stupor, etc. However, every social work knows or should know that it’s never the victim’s fault about what happened to them (Gough & Spencer, 2014). Also, they would not only be some ethical issues and values conflict when it comes to the social worker, but also everyone engaged in Dahmer’s case. Once the prosecutor present all the evidence without thinking some, not all, or the jury will want in him jail; some would even vote death penalty because of their values.
Policy issues on the Jeffrey Dahmer case would definitely be his sentencing. It is obvious in my research that Jeffrey Dahmer was psychologically ill, and need major help. However, the argument was that Dahmer disposed of the bodies, which means he was afraid of consequences. If he didn’t dispose the body he probably could have got sent to get some type of treatment.
The Jeffrey Dahmer case is rare out of many. As stated before violent crimes happen to certain individuals or groups every day around the world. Murders sometimes just go on a random killing spree, but in Jeffrey Dahmer’s case all of his victims have common characteristics and trait. All of his victims were male, majority of them being black for some odd reason. They all were also of young ages. Some of those characteristics of Dahmer’s victims were their sex, gender roles, age, ethnicity, economic status, goals, education level, area of residence, stature or body type, etc. He mostly picked up hitchhikers, drunken people, or people who just needed a couple of bucks and were willing to do anything. Jeffrey Dahmer’s criminal acts started with the molestation of younger boys. The above content discusses how to help the victims who survived and the loved ones of the victims whose lives were lost cope on a micro, mezzo, and macro level. On the micro level each individual victim is assessed for counseling. The micro level gives the individual more space to be open about what happened without being judged in any kind of way, or with being afraid. The micro level is a vital step to the mezzo and macro levels. On the mezzo level the victim could then be assessed in a group setting with people such as, their families, other victims, their friends, and so forth. The macro level is the largest level of all. On this level, communities, neighborhoods, and even the nation are included. It just depends on how broad the crime is and in Dahmer’s case the murders made national news, frightening many parents out there with young male children.
(2012, July 20). Retrieved November 12, 2014, from Social Work License Map: http://socialworklicensemap.com/macro-mezzo-and-micro-social-work/
Ashman, K., & Hull, G. (2010). Understanding Generalist Practice. Stamford: Cengage Learning.
Davis, D. (1991). The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: An American Nightmare. New York City: St. Martin’s Paperback Press.
Gough, J., & Spencer, E. (2014). Ethics in Action: An Exploratory Survey of Social Worker’s Ethical Decision Making and Value Conflicts. Journal of Social Work Values & Ethics, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p23-40. 18p.
Marten, W., & Kahn, W. (2011). Sadism linked to loneliness: psychodynamic dimensions of the sadistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. 98 (4), pp. 493-514.
O’Meara, G. J. (2009). He Speaks Not, Yet He Says Everything; What of That?: Text, Context, and Pretext in State v. Jeffrey Dahmer.. Denver University Law Review, Vol. 87 Issue 1, p97-137, 41p.