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Stabbing in the UK and the After-Effects: Case Study


Although stabbing appears to be a major crime across the world, there is no evidence that research discuses this issue exclusively. A lot of research generalizes stabbing as an assault crime (SpotCrime, 2011), and studies the effects of stabbing on victims in this respect. Different assault crimes have different traumatic impacts or the extent of them, and therefore, it is not right to do overgeneralization between various traumas (Green (1982). In addition, only a few kinds of literature exist on stabbing and its effects. Most research explores the negative impacts of trauma, yet such experiences may result in positive changes in behavior and victims being more careful. Further research can help to fill this gap.

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Generally, study on assault health careers was not familiar ground until recently. Failure of identification of needs for victims has partly been due to focus on concerns to avoid blaming victims and care for them (Shepherd & Frederick, 1998). In addition, this lack has occurred due to a lack of collaboration between crime professionals and trauma professionals, according to the author. Yet, the research identifies such collaboration as important. Research into injury patterns is also scarce (Shepherd & Frederick, 1998).

There are few studies exploring stabbing from an empirical point of view, although media and the internet report several cases of stabbing in the United Kingdom. Hence, stabbing needs an exhaustive discussion exhaustively in research. However, stabbing has special implications on victims. As shall be seen in the case study of Grey, positive behavior may occur following the experience of stabbing, whether due to the need to be more careful, or scared. Research neglects such possible positive impacts of traumatic incidences such as stabbing. Some authorities leave the consequences of crime (physical or otherwise) to hospitals to treat (Shepherd & Frederick, 1998), yet, this undermines the importance of attending to all victims of stabbing. Many are only treated physical injuries, yet there are underlying impacts such as psychological effects. These implications are physical, psychological, emotional, and social in nature. Understanding the nature of all the categories of the effects of stabbing and the after-effects can help authorities maximize the benefits of interventions. Again, understanding the depth of underlying impacts of stabbing can help authorities move from curative to preventive interventions.

In this paper, I will employ a case study of a stabbed victim to discuss the topic of stabbing. The case study involves my interview with the victim. With several cases of stabbing reported in the United Kingdom, the research will aid in understanding the effects of stabbed victims. In particular, my research will concentrate on stabbing in the United Kingdom. My paper will answer the research question on what the after-effects of stabbing are to the victims. The paper discusses the psychological, social, emotional, and physical effects of stabbing. Although people appreciate that stabbing has economic implications when victims receive treatment, when their family members suffer from psychological/emotionally-initiated illnesses as a result, and/or when they die, the focus on the research was the physical, social, emotional, and psychological impacts of stabbing. The paper discusses positive as well as negative aspects of these effects of stabbing.

Literature Review

Introduction and Occurrence of Stabbing Crime in the United Kingdom

Stabbing is the penetrating of a sharp object into one’s body to cause injury, pain, or harm. Reports about stabbing are numerous in the media arena. Much of the stabbing effects and practice as a crime are popular in the media. Reports on crime in the United Kingdom indicate that stabbing is a very rampant crime. For example, in 2005, stabbing cases constituted 29% of all homicide cases (839 in total) carried out in Britain and Wales. In 2007, London city recorded 12, 589 cases of crimes related to knifes. The group that is most likely to carry knives in London are youth of age 15-18 years. In fact, further information indicates that each year, about 60, 000 young people face stabbing in the UK (Steele, 2007). According to Steele, several victims in England and Wales are aged between 10-25 years. The latter data affect England and Wales. Thus, I conclude that while young people execute most cases of stabbing, the group is also the widely affected by stabbing as victims. This data seems to suggest the common places where stabbing crimes mostly occur; schools and colleges, for example. However, stabbing is carried out with a range of weapons, ranging from knifes and swords to toothpicks and pencils. Stabbing can lead to death due to a serious injury.

Although much is reported in the media about stabbing, statistics on stabbing are inefficiently collected or do not indicate the truth. According to the British Crime Survey (BCS), which investigates experiences of people on crime, 340, 000 cases of crime reported in 1995 involved knives. The number increased to 169, 000 cases in 2005/2006. The latter figure constituted of 70% of all crimes in the UK (Steele, 2007). However, such investigations involve a small number of respondents.

Stabbing is still practiced in the UK despite numerous laws forbidding the use or carrying of knifes or gadgets used in stabbing people. The Prevention of Crime Act 1953 prohibited carrying of such gadgets in public places terming them as “articles” meant for inflicting injury to people. In addition to the Prevention of Crime Act, the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959 was added and prohibited selling, hiring, lending and manufacture of “flick-knives and gravity knives” (Steele, 2007).

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In 2006, the prohibition of selling of knives to people under the age of 18 in the UK became active, through the Violent Crime Reduction Act.

Stabbing crimes appear to thrive amidst poor security. Thus, like any other crime, it relates to insecurity. Stabbing crimes appear rampant in areas of high in security, mostly occupied by non-mainstream races such as Blacks and Asians (Steele, 2007).

Research identifies the lack of wide concern for injury patterns (Shepherd & Frederick, 1998). In addition, research neglects exploration into the injuries caused by different weapons – for instance on adult assault cases- is lacking. Such research would be necessary to understand the implications of assaults as well as how to treat injuries (Shepherd et al., 1990), such as resulting from stabbing. Different weapons cause different types of injuries as well as their severity (Shepherd & Frederick, 1998). Types of injuries are likely to occur to different gender and groups. In the United Kingdom, lacerations were more common to men than were to women. Research reports that many men get assaulted from drinking glass pieces and sharp objects (Zachariades et al., 1990). However, blunt weapons do not cause more fractures than do attacks by fists or feet (Alcantara, 1994).

The area of repeat victimization is also important as far as stabbing is concerned. As far as stabbing is concerned, repeat victimization patterns are different from other patterns for other assault crimes. However, there is some similarity. For instance, while domestic assaults may have deterministic pattern implications for repeated crime incidences after the initial assault, stabbing injuries may likely occur again if the individual has such habits as alcohol abuse (Shepherd & Frederick, 1998) and has a violent personality. Again, while abuse of alcohol and some behavior may affect men more than men, other assaults patterns such as domestic violence are likely to affect women more than they do to men.

Effects of Stabbing

A number of effects of stabbing include paralysis of the victim depending on the point of injury (Brain and Spinal Cord Org, 2011). This may result when stabbing is in the area of the spinal cord and affects spinal cord. The area below the injured point malfunctions resulting in paralysis. Complete loss of function can occur when a person incurs a complete injury. When the injury is incomplete, the loss of function could only be partial. However, most research concentrates and documents the negative effects of stabbing and largely neglects the possibility of victim positive change of behavior and relationships.

Physical, social, emotional and Psychological effects of Stabbing

Physical injury of stabbing depends on the tool used for the crime. Sharp objects lead to injuries and deep cuts that may result to bleeding. Such bleeding, when serious and not quickly attended, may cause death. In addition, internal bleeding may occur because of deep cuts and injury of internal organs. Physical effects include also wounds of varying degrees in seriousness and severity. The degree of severity depends on the area of stabbing. For instance, stabbing may be more serious if it targets arms than when it targets the abdomen and chest or head, since in the latter case, internal organs may suffer cutting or piecing. The object of assault also determines severity, with sharper tools such as knifes likely to cause more damage when they penetrate the body. The degree of severity also depends on whether the victim encountered repeated piecing at the same spot or not.

Shepherd & Frederick, 1998 recognize the fact that there must be an effort to treat psychological effects of assault in addition to handling physical injuries. Like any other crime, stabbing has the capacity to cause some psychological response among patients, especially when violent in nature. These reactions include anger, fear, depression, and anxiety. Symonds (1975) points out that these psychological reactions may occur for a long time, and various effects appear at various stages. In the initial stages, the victim experiences shock and a denial. After this stage, the victim would experience fear and fright. The victim may thereafter experience anger and apathy. Resolution or repression may then appear after this stage. However, in victims who experience repeated instances of crime such as stabbing, tracing these stages is tricky (Shepherd, 1990). Traumatic disorders may appear at varying depths after the victim has experienced stabbing. For example, a stress disorder may occur in the initial stages, while such problems as anxiety and depression may occur after sometimes (Bisson and Shepherd, 1995). This may influence the individual’s social, psychological, and personal life.

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Some research highlights the impacts of assault such as stabbing on women and men. According to Breslau et al (1991), women suffer more than men do when they witness killing or serious hurting incidence. This is despite the fact that both genders incur similar prevalence for psychological sequelae. The occurrence of post-traumatic disorders mostly depends on the crime circumstances, according to Kilpatrick et al. (1989). For instance, where serious physical injury results from stabbing, these impacts are likely to appear. However, variables have a greater role in influencing the occurrence of post-traumatic disorders that do have the dimensions of the trauma. For instance, these disorders are likely to occur in increased levels where victims lacked social support, have family history of psychiatric disorder or have similar variables.

Research finds that it is difficult to involve crime victims in treatment (Koss & Burkhart, 1989), meaning that victims of stabbing have difficulties in their treatment. This may be true especially for the treatment of psychological impact rather than for physical injuries. This is because of the attitude they have on treatments. This attitude is a result of such factors as personality, social and cultural factors (Bisson and Shepherd, 1995). This is because different individuals have different beliefs about what the expected behavior or right behavior is. Nevertheless, finding out what these beliefs are can help psychologists to come up with proper treatment procedures.

Research identifies preventive as well as curative measures for handling victims of crimes such as stabbing (Bisson and Shepherd, 1995). Psychological sequel can reduce through preventative mechanisms adopted earlier after the victim undergoes stabbing. Victims of stabbing can process the traumatic events when somebody talks with them about what happened. Psychological debriefing identifies as an important early intervention strategy (Bisson & Deahl, 1994), but it is important to consider what victims prefer. Many prefer talking about their emotions.

Bisson and Shepherd (1995) point out that an employer can help crime victims in reducing the psychological effect of crime. For instance, they can offer compensation claimed by the victims and offer leave or time-off from their jobs.

There is a relationship between physical effects of assault with the psychological effects. For instance, where a victim is physically impaired and deformed, it may be difficult to forget about the incidence, and these physical evidences may spur psychological affects (Shepherd & Frederick, 1998). Again, these psychological effects may result to economic losses as victims, friends and family members engage in revenge (for example fighting back and through litigation) or are physically impaired and get the treatment that costs money.


In this research, I employ a case study direct interview of a stabbing victim to explore stabbing in the United Kingdom. The sample for this research is Grey who represents many people who get stabbed in the UK. Grey is a resident of the UK. Since this participant is a resident of the UK, I take him as a representative sample. One limitation is that the sample used for this research is few, i.e. one person. However, the use of a limited case study is advantageous in this case because it will help me to explore in detail the matter, rather than when concentrating on several people. A case study can be real-life or hypothetical. In this case, I employ a real-life case study. A real-life case study would help me to find out the actual impact and after-effects of stabbing from a close range. This is in contrast with the use of a hypothetical case study.

Before the recorded interview, I informed Grey of the intention of the interview and that the details would be applicable in a study for stabbing in the United Kingdom. I also promised the participant that the name and other personal details would be confidential.

I interview Grey who faced stabbing in 2010. After the interview, I did a transcription of the recorded interview with Grey.

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In addition to using primary methods for data collection for this study, I benefited from use of secondary materials. This included research papers done on the matter or relating to the matter. The research papers and research materials were beneficial to exploring documented facts about the incident. The research also employed statistical websites where I benefited by finding statistics regarding the prevalence of stabbing as a crime in the United Kingdom. Research papers analyzed contained research on violent crimes and assault crimes relating to use of objects as well as their after-effects (sharp and blunt). Use of secondary materials helped to discover documented facts, statistics regarding stabbing, and assault crimes.

After transcription of the research, analysis for data helped me to link the case study with literature. Analysis was through the descriptive method. I benefited through a quantitative analysis of the information. Document search was also helpful in highlighting the linkage between case study and literature review. In addition, the use of document analysis helped me to link real-life case studies of stabbing on Grey and its effects with the documented impacts of stabbing and assault crimes.


Grey went to watch movies, accompanied with his brother and two friends. They found that there were no movies of their interest and hence, decided to go and play billiards. Grey and colleagues found that there were no empty tables to play on, and decided to wait at the bar as they took some drinks. However, they moved to find another place to play. His brother forgot his cell phone and he a friend of Grey accompanied him back to the bar to collect it. Some people tried to bully them on their way back after getting the phone. These two people abused Grey’s brother and his friend and they retorted back. The two people also punched one of them. Two of the four companies got injured from stabbing, including Grey on the back and a friend on the forehead. He therefore risked incurring paralysis condition if his spinal cord damaged (Brain and Spinal Cord Org, 2011). This happened when a group of people (about eight in number) got their way as the four went out. Grey did not realize the injury it until when informed by a friend. Grey was very hurt and panicked. His brother also panicked. Grey got attention from emergency room operators in the nearest hospital and latter on had a surgery. The doctor scanned his body and the wound attended. Doctors and operation crew talked to him about the incidence and its occurrence.

As can be seen, young people engage in such behaviors as drinking and movie attending, the reasons why they are the major target for this kind of crime. Grey is only 19 years and his colleagues are age mates. These people were attending social events and the behavior is prevalent for young people more than old people. This supports evidence from Steele (2007) that young people (15-18 years) face stabbing incidences more than any other group. However, it is not clear what age the attackers were. The case study also evidences lack of concern for psychological analysis or treatment of stabbing and crime incidences, while people are concerned mostly with the treatment of physical injuries. The family concerns itself with physical injuries and neglected psychological impacts of the stabbing to Grey that may be long lasting more than the physical impacts.

The case study for Grey identifies with literature finding that circumstances of stabbing crimes are important to the overall effects. Grey and friends panicked resulting from realization of the incidences surrounding the crime. Fear also affected the response to the incidence that was unplanned. This is common to stabbing cases as noted in the literature review. Indeed, denial and shock occurred to Grey at the initial stage after stabbing (Symonds, 1975). However, this would have been different if stabbing occurred expectedly. Grey does not even realize the stabbing injury, and this stirred more fear of the result. Grey is still in shock after surgery, realizing that he is in bandages.

Research also documents the role of other factors such as drinking behaviors on the occurrence of stabbing and the after-effects (Shepherd & Frederick, 1998), which may stir repeated stabbing or assault incidences. As can be seen, all the four went out and engaged in drinking. This may have stirred other behaviors such as their respond to fighting their attackers and using abusive language to respond to their abusers. In addition, Grey is a boxer and one of his friends was professional wrestler. Such professionals would launch counter-attacks for such war-like challenges. Effects of counter-attack behavior may therefore, have underlying impacts on the occurrence of the stabbing. For instance, Grey was not part of the initial quarrels but responds to defending his friend and smaller brother. This explains the need to study relationship between the individual profession and stabbing incidences.

Stabbing does not only have effects on the victim, but also on family members and colleagues. As can be seen from the analysis, stabbing had serious physical as well as emotional impacts on Grey and his friends. It affects Grey’s father who suffers high blood pressure. Physical injuries to Grey resulted in physical damage that necessitated surgery. He suffers a lot of pain and it became necessary for him to take painkillers. This surgery was very important to avoid excessive bleeding and likely death. It is evident that the right lung got a puncture from the knife penetration. According to the doctor, if there were a further delay in surgery, Grey would have died. As seen earlier, the effect of stabbing on Grey was a wound that was serious. For the Grey friend, the wound was not serious and did not necessitate surgery. This supports the fact that stabbing can result in very serious or less serious physical injury depending on the object of attack. The object used was a knife, which caused serious cuts on the back.

As can be seen from this discussion, the crime incidence was a violent one. This means that it has far-reaching implications, physically, socially and psychologically/mentally. The urgency of operation was necessary because of the depth of injury. This may remain to be physical evidence of the crime, which may remind Grey of the incidence and stir psychological reactions. Such incision on the back requiring an injury means it leaves a scar. Again, the violent nature of crime acts as a reminder to Grey about the incidence. This may stir psychological reactions in the future, including behavioral reactions (Shepherd & Frederick, 1998). It is evident that the incident affected Grey’s personality, as well as social and emotional well-being (Bisson and Shepherd, 1995). It is evident that Grey has psychological effects of stabbing as he notes in the interview that the scare of knowing that thirty minutes delay in surgery would cause death more than stabbing itself. Grey admits that for all the time he lay in hospital, thinking that he almost died from the incidence made him think about the things he did in life. This indicates that he was really in shock. He posits that the things he reflected upon were both negative and positive. This paper discussed this matter in the literature review. The doctor put Grey into an unconscious condition to necessitate surgery without pain. This shows the seriousness of the injury.

It is also evident that the incident has long positive and negative effects on one’s life, generally. This includes future decision-making and behaviors. Grey indicated in the interview that the incident changed the way he saw life. He becomes angry against the attackers as and this agrees with hat is found in literature. Anger is an effect in third stage after the crime, according to Symonds (1975). However, it appears that since attackers are the focus of this anger, victims may feel relieved when the attackers receive punishment. The anger may then reduce or end. This happens to Grey as the victims receive charges in court after identification from a CCTV camera.

Such incidences may also spur positive behavior as victims begin to reflect on them. However, there is a need for investigations whether such behaviors appear because victims fear recurrence, or are a result of the need of being more careful because of the experience of stabbing. These positive effects of traumatic incidences require further investigation by empirical research. Grey admits that there are positive aspects of behavior instilled after the incidence. He begins taking life more seriously after finding out that it could have gotten lost. He begins looking for new opportunities in town, something he never did before. Grey worked hard at the University too. He begins a serious relationship with his girlfriend and appears to value relationships and social welfare with friends. He begins valuing relationships with people who visited him in the hospital.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Stabbing is different in some nature compared with other assaults. Much literature generalizes it as an assault, but stabbing needs studying as a separate issue. In addition, literature documents much about the negative impacts of stabbing on victims’ lives and largely neglects the possible positive changes in the behavior and life of victims. However, a possibility exists that positive effects in behavior and life may result from such an experience. The stabbing has physical, emotional, social and psychological after-effects. Victims may never remain the same as far as their psychological and emotional wellbeing is concerned. Again, victims could change their view and behavior of social relationships.

Most research documents general effects (physical, social, emotional, economic, and psychological) of assault and largely neglects to study stabbing separately. Although people appreciate that stabbing has economic implications when victims receive treatment, when their family members suffer from psychological/emotionally-initiated illnesses as a result, and/or when they die, the focus on the research was the physical, social, emotional, and psychological impacts of stabbing. Future research should explore the complete linkage of all these effects of stabbing. The paper discusses positive as well as negative aspects of these effects of stabbing. It uses the case study of Grey to establish the effects of stabbing on victims in the UK. It finds the negative and positive effects of traumatic stabbing incidences such as those faced by Grey. Nevertheless, more empirical research investigations should establish the likelihood of occurrence of positive effects of traumatic stabbing incidences. Stabbing affects the victim, the family members, and friends psychologically, socially, emotionally and physically.

The paper finds out that the circumstances surrounding the occurrence of stabbing are important to determine the extent of the injury and after-effects, such as fear. In addition, other factors such as violent personalities and social characteristics are to blame sometimes for occurrence of stabbing crime.

It is necessary for all the victims such as Grey and friend to attend a clinic or agency for psychological support. As seen, treatment of the after-effects of stabbing involves treating psychological effects. In fact, psychological effects are more significant for Grey, because the physical injury healed. As noted earlier on, Grey underwent some early intervention for the effects of stabbing when the doctors and company interviewed him about the incidence. Literature found that such interventions as talking to the victim about the incidence are necessary (Bisson and Shepherd, 1995). Britain has put in place Victim Support institution, which can help victims of stabbing like Grey. This agency has helped a number of victims in Britain. For instance, the number of violent crime victims contacted by the agency in one year preceding March 1994 was 175, 733 (Victim Support, 1994).


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