Profile of a Male Perpetrator

Four major types of rapists are consistently identified by law enforcement experts, profilers, and psychologists. The vast majority of research has been done on male perpetrators, and this information reflects studies of men. The four rapist types are:

  1. Anger-excitation rapist
  2. Anger-retaliation rapist
  3. Power-assertive rapist
  4. Power-reassurance rapist

When people say, “Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power,” they’re especially correct about the power-assertive rapist. This person is looking for the power trip. He feels entitled to a woman’s body if he wants it.

That attitude isn’t isolated. You’ll see that sense of entitlement in many areas of his life. This makes it a good warning sign if you’re considering dating someone. He may not be a rapist — most men aren’t rapists — but either way, he won’t be someone you want to date. His sense of entitlement won’t go away, and you can’t make it go away. Don’t waste your time and energy, and risk your own safety, trying to fix him.

About 44 percent of reported rapes are committed by this type. He may be violent and aggressive, slapping the woman around during the attack, but he probably isn’t trying to kill her. That’s not what gives this type of rapist his power rush.

The anger-retaliatory rapist lives exactly up to his name: He’s mad at someone female, so he’s going to find a female victim and retaliate. Perhaps 30 percent of reported rapes fall into this category. This is the rapist who’s going to want to degrade his victim. His physical attack on a woman will be punitive and humiliating, and if she resists, he’ll likely feel provoked and violently angry.

The type of rapist you often see in TV programs is the anger-excitation rapist–the true sadist who becomes excited through torturing his victim. Her pain turns him on. Although this type is popular among TV writers, in reality it accounts for only about 5 percent of reported rapes. He is the most likely of all types to kill a woman he has raped.

Finally, the power-reassurance rapist is another popular TV staple, though only about 21 percent of reported rapes are committed by this type of rapist. Without the skills to develop a romantic relationship with a real person, he substitutes a fake relationship for the real one by raping someone. This may involve romantic declarations and even his idea of foreplay.

Since he prefers to believe his victim is interested in him sexually–he may even view her as his date or his girlfriend–he wants to keep the violence to a minimum. He may threaten a woman with a weapon, and with a minimum of physical force gain control, but he may not even have a weapon. This type of rapist is most likely of all the types to be dissuaded by crying, begging, or talking to him.

Male gang rapes are considered a different type. Men who wouldn’t necessarily rape a woman on their own are more likely to do so in a group that rapes.

Keep in mind that any and all of these rapists can be people you know. You can be date raped, acquaintance raped, stranger raped, maritally raped, by any of these types of rapists.

  • There is no universal rule about whether to fight back or not. One of the tools you have in making this decision mid-attack is your gut instinct. You are the only one who’s looking into this rapist’s eyes. Don’t mistake your fear as a message from your gut that you shouldn’t fight back–you’d feel terrified during any attack. Do listen to your gut telling you whether this guy is willing to go all the way and kill you, or not.
  • The best time to deal with a pending attack is right at step 1, by trying to prevent it. This won’t always succeed, but far better to avoid the whole thing if it’s at all possible. Run into a crowd of people in a public place. Run out of the house into the street. Speak assertively and let him know you’re not a victim. Speak soothingly and tactfully and try to reason with him until you can get safe. Whatever you can think of to get out of the situation.

Recommended to read next: New post up called “The Self-Defense Dilemma: Blaming the Victim?”