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?”


Profile of a Child Molester

This post is one of several promised subjects for posting during 2008. Most of this information is taken from interviews and writings by molesters themselves (from interviews others have done), and some is taken from research on child sexual predators.

Myths and Facts About Child Molesters

  • Myth: Anyone who would molest a child is seedy-looking or looks suspicious. I’d know them by looking at them.
  • Fact: Handsome, rich men molest children. Beautiful, talented women molest children. Ordinary people you laugh with every day molest children. You simply cannot tell a child sexual predator by looking. (But do pay attention to your instincts, which see deeper than a person’s surface appearance.)
  • Myth: Child molesters are unsociable and isolated. If I knew any, I’m sure I naturally wouldn’t like them.
  • Fact: Most child molesters are known and liked by others. Plus, they cultivate certain relationships in order to gain access to children, and many are genial and personable individuals with whom others enjoy socializing.
  • Myth: Married men don’t molest children–they have their wives. Besides, a married man would only molest a child if he wasn’t getting sex from his wife.
  • Fact: Marital status doesn’t correlate to whether a person is a sexual predator or not. KEY FACT: A man deprived of sex does not morph into a child sexual predator. Molesting children is about preferring the power position and avoiding vulnerability. The taste for sex with children is separate from a normal human adult sex drive oriented to adults.
  • Myth: He’s a pastor (or teacher, or elder, or highly respected businessman–fill in the blank with anyone)–he would never do that.
  • Fact: Child molesters can be anyone–anyone at all. We must not hesitate to blow the whistle on a child molester regardless of position, fame, or wealth. Our children are worth more than that.
  • Myth: He has a Ph.D., she’s president of the company–too smart to be doing something that depraved.
  • Fact: Molesting children is not a function of low income or intelligence. Geniuses can be child molesters; millionaires can be child molesters.
  • Myth: A real child molester would never talk about the subject.
  • Fact: A child molester may say contemptuous things like “Child molesters are the sickest people on the planet” or “Child molesters deserve the death penalty.” The rest of us might say things like that too, so this isn’t an indicator by itself–just a warning that predators know the right line to take.
  • Myth: He hugs and cuddles my child in healthy ways right in front of me, and my child doesn’t resist or fuss. So obviously nothing’s happening.
  • Fact: Molesters themselves say that they deliberately do this so that your child, the victim, thinks you approve of the way the molester touches them. A child assumes his parents know what’s going on, so when the molester hugs him in front of you and you’re fine with that, the child thinks you’re OK with what happens in private too.

If I Can’t Tell Who They Are, What Can I Do?

Fortunately, many things.

  • Listen to your instincts. If you feel a deep disquiet or unease around someone, simply don’t let that person have access to your child–especially not alone time.
  • Don’t put your faith in the presence of a group. A child molester can and will single out a child while on group trips such as camping, Scout outings, etc. Child sexual predators go on trips like this because they know they can get alone time with their victim.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of healthy attention, love, and physical affection at home. This prevents your child from having the vulnerability that predators look for in potential victims. A healthy, well-loved child with good self-esteem is less likely to be targeted. In a sense, molesters are looking for victims who are already victims.
  • Make yourself a safe person for your child to talk to. If he does something wrong, don’t take out your frustration on him or blame him. I have a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old, and my natural reaction is, “Haven’t I TOLD YOU A MILLION TIMES not to do that?” or “Why on EARTH would you do a thing like that?” or “Honey, why didn’t you just ASK ME FOR HELP!” It feels good to let the steam blow out my ears, but then my kids clam up and stop trusting me. This is because they’re not stupid children. Instead, try “Okay, that wasn’t good, was it? Why was it not good? What’s your plan for the future?” Say this patiently and supportively, not in anger.
  • Impose appropriate consequences without anger. This can’t be overemphasized. If you get angry whenever your child fails or misbehaves, or you get upset a lot in general, be certain she will learn never to tell you anything. And a child without a parent he trusts is a victim waiting to be victimized. Molesters know this. They watch for this type of relationship between a parent and a child so they can exploit it and gain the victim’s trust with patience and kindness.
  • Teach your child early that no one has the right to touch her private parts and that she can say a strong “NO” and you will back her up completely. She can fight or run away or tattle and you will stand by her 100 percent. Molesters make threats about what parents will or won’t do to a child if he tells, so you have to have that trust with your child.
  • Consider sending your child to an upbeat, positive, effective program like Impact Personal Safety (see Resources below).
  • Don’t consistently let any one adult go on isolated alone activities with your child.
  • Study adults, particularly men (sorry, gentlemen–it’s statistics and the “can’t tell by looking” thing again, so you get extra eyeballing even if you’re a genuinely good guy), who work with children and still want to spend more time with them outside of work. They may take children on special outings outside of work, for example. Also study those who seem way more plugged into youth culture than into age-appropriate adult culture. Whether or not a person twangs your intuition, observe the person closely and don’t let him have your child alone until you’re satisfied he’s completely safe. Talk to others about him. Find out all you can.
  • If your child spends a lot of individual time with someone, ask your child carefully phrased questions about whether the child has been exposed to any sexual material of any kind. Kids are curious. If it’s presented to them, they’ll probably watch and listen.
  • If you suspect your spouse may be molesting your child, watch closely. Do you feel like somehow, subtly, you’re being cast as the bad guy to your child, while your spouse is the good guy? Abusers gradually block communication between their child and the other parent, and damage the trust in that relationship.
  • If you’re a parent married to a stepparent, be aware that all the statistics show a significantly higher incidence of child sexual abuse among stepparents than among birth parents. Molesters target a child or children, then marry the mother in order to gain access to the children. The biggest way you can prevent this, if there’s any possibility of it happening (and you have to tell yourself frankly to look for it even if you don’t think it’s ever going to happen in your house), is to keep the lines of trust and communication open between yourself and your children. You may be thrilled with your new spouse’s interest in your children–but watch for signs that he’s giving them treats and rewards while subtly coming between you and them. Is he subtly teaching them that you’re not trustworthy and he is? Is he gaining their trust while undercutting you or your relationship with your children? While you want to back up your new spouse, you also want your children to know you’re still with them in spirit and that you trust them and support them. You can support your spouse while still letting your kids know that you believe what they say on a day-to-day basis.

How Do Child Molesters Control Victims and Keep Them From Telling?

Glad you asked. Keep in mind that these answers come from molesters themselves.

  • I’ll do anything to get to your child and to keep your child once I’ve victimized her.  I’ll do anything and say anything to keep assaulting your child and to keep your child from telling. I really don’t care if it’s harming your child–I just care about pursuing sexual gratification.
  • I threaten your child with the loss of his family. I tell him he’ll be taken away from his family if he tells, or that his parents will be taken away.
  • I threaten your child with violence to her or to her family.
  • I manipulate your child into thinking it’s his fault. Or I make him think he’s at least partly responsible and that if anybody gets punished, it will be him.
  • I tell your child this is normal parental behavior.
  • I win your child’s love and trust with treats, attention, and “love.” If she’s not getting love and attention from you, she’ll get it from me. [Note: This includes children with a full-time stay-at-home parent. If they’re not getting love and attention from Dad–or Mom, as the case may be–they’ll be looking for it.]

So How Can I Tell If My Child is Being Molested?

  • He becomes extremely modest and protective of showing his body. Or he goes the other direction and sexually acts out.
  • She has genital pain, itching, discharge, bleeding, stomachaches, headaches, or other physical complaints. Stomachaches and headaches that stem from sexual assault are very real physical pain.
  • He starts sleeping poorly, starts wetting his bed, has new fears, refuses to go to places he’s been before or be with certain people, starts having school problems or difficulties with peers, cries excessively, is depressed, gets clingy or aggressive, or becomes secretive.
  • She may try different methods of escapism, such as running away, drugs or alcohol, daydreaming, or isolating herself.
  • Be aware that some children being molested may not show any of these symptoms. Some child molesters groom their victims so successfully that the children love their abusers and even try to protect them.


  • The Center for Behavioral Intervention in Oregon has put out a terrific brochure called “Protecting Your Children: Advice From Child Molesters.” To get a copy, call 503.644.2772. The organization doesn’t seem to have a website right now.
  • Impact Personal Safety is a top personal safety organization nationwide. They have practical, real-world self-defense classes for adult women and men, teenagers, and children. Classes and school programs are available. For a history of the organization, see the Impact site, or read here.
  • National Hotline: 1-888-656-4673

Blog Plans for 2008

graphic of a calendar for 2012Coming Posts:

“Getting safe and getting help: Stalking” [the second in a series of two “get safe” posts–the first one was “Getting safe and getting help: Sexual Assault” posted on 12/7/07]
“Profile of a Male Perpetrator”
“Profile of a Female Perpetrator”
“Profile of a Child Molester”

Write in with ideas of other related topics you’d like to see covered in this blog. In 2008, I’ll probably start filling out the domestic violence end of this subject area–like rape, something anyone of either sex can experience. We’ll talk more about that.

I also plan to do more to research and provide resources on protecting children from predators. The first post title in this subject area is listed above and should be up as soon as I finish a reasonable amount of research on the topic and on resources. I also added a new category, “For Parents,” to accommodate this subject area.

What else do you want to see here in 2008?

[Update in 2012: It’s good to know, in hindsight, that I did get those topics posted in 2008. For 2012, I have plans for more information on online safety, cyber bullying, stalking, and domestic violence. So I’ll repeat my question from four years ago: What would you like to have covered in this blog this year? What are your concerns? Questions?]

“For Men” category, but no “For Women”?

Stylized drawing of two parents + two children.A word of clarification is in order. You may see that the category “for men” has a number of posts, while the category “for women” doesn’t even exist. Why?

Because: While men are rape victims, rape is overwhelmingly a female experience perpetrated by males. Therefore, nearly every post in this blog is for women by default.

Sadly, rape is heavily skewed toward male attackers and female victims. Perhaps someday that will change, and rape–no matter who the attacker or survivor–will become a rare crime. We can dream (and hope and work).

I make a conscious effort to provide information and resources that include and can be used by male victims in most posts. They need and deserve the same quality of support as any other rape survivor.

Sexual Assault Resources Specifically for Men

Photo of man w/bruises and cuts on faceThat men are raped is not in question. For example, see the Abused Empowered Survive Thrive and website, which has several large sections specifically for men, such as Male Rape Myths and Research and Statistics on Male Abuse Survivors.

As of 2011, the CDC estimated that almost 20% of women suffered rape in their lifetime. (By the way, just as a man’s physiological body response to rape is involuntary, so is a woman’s. This does not indicate arousal or consent for either sex. Keep reading.)

The same as for female rape survivors, many ignorant people in society hold bigoted or erroneous views about male rape survivors:

  • Men can protect themselves, so he must’ve wanted it or else he would’ve stopped it.
  • Now that he’s been raped, he’s homosexual.
  • He was homosexual anyway, so it’s all just sex for him.
  • He was homosexual anyway, so he deserved it.
  • A real man could have kept it from happening.

While many of the emotional needs of male survivors are the same as those of female survivors, men have some unique needs. First, here are some struggles both sexes face:

  • They feel violated and disempowered.
  • They question themselves.
  • They lose confidence in their ability to protect themselves.
  • They wonder if they did something to bring the attack on themselves.
  • They think they should’ve done more to stop it. Or less. Or something different.
  • They feel blamed by society (“If she hadn’t gone to a bar dressed like that it wouldn’t have happened,” “If he was straight it wouldn’t have happened,” “Why did you provoke the attacker?”, etc.).

Here are some of the unique struggles men face:

  • They feel emasculated.
  • They wonder if they’ve become homosexual.
  • They wonder if it happened because they’re homosexual (data shows that homosexuals are in fact targeted; I don’t know of an exhaustive study showing how rapists target male victims in general).
  • Society believes men can’t be sexually assaulted by women, but they can be–and this is a stigma as well, with many people viewing the male victim as weak or as less of a man, or thinking that a “normal” man would be glad to “have sex,” or assuming that no woman could be strong enough to rape a man. (Aaaand we’re back to the “not a real man” myth.)
  • Sketchy information shows that men (no matter who does the attacking) are even less likely to report rape than women because of the stigma attached to the “weakness” of a male victim or the stigma of questions about his sexuality or masculinity.
  • There aren’t many resources for male rape survivors, so they’re more isolated and less served than women. Even factoring in the lower proportion of male survivors to female survivors, there aren’t a proportionate number of resources specifically for male survivors. Most services for female survivors also serve male victims, but here I’m talking about services that are dedicated to male survivors.
  • Male survivors may have had an erection or ejaculation during an assault and feel guilty about it; the attacker or the victim’s friends/family may assume this means the victim must have “wanted it,” when in reality, both erection and ejaculation are physiological responses to stress that don’t require sexual arousal and that a man can’t voluntarily control.

Some of the good resources I can find for men are listed here.

No one, no matter what their age, race, or sex, deserves to be raped or has “asked for it.” Rape doesn’t change people’s sexual orientation, and it isn’t OK to rape a man because “men want it all the time anyway.” Rape is never a turn-on. Raping men isn’t OK, and it’s never the victim’s fault — not ever. I will shout this from the housetops. To male assault survivors: You are not alone. We women have been attacked too, and we stand with you. We believe you. We believe in you. We want more for all rape survivors, no matter who has been attacked.

Define Sexual Assault

I wish some of this material could be posted directly here, but it is all under full copyright. Resources are not available to purchase the material or the rights to republish it. But here are direct links to the exact information.

Definition of Rape

Any type of penetration (using body parts, objects, etc.) of any body orifice (nostrils, anus, etc.) perpetrated by one person on another by the use of intimidation, force, violence, or victim’s lack of consent (i.e., a person who is drunk, drugged, or developmentally disabled, for example).

Differentiating between the terms rape and sexual assault

The word rape has been used historically to refer only to penile-vaginal rape. Today it is often replaced by the term sexual assault to apply to a wider range of types of assaults committed by both sexes, on both sexes. Groping and harassment are defined as types of sexual assault, but they’re not types of rape. So the difference between the terms is technical: Rape in its strictest sense refers to penile-vaginal or penile-anal rape, while sexual assault has a much broader meaning and includes all kinds of sexually-based attacks. All are devastating.

Be aware that in many cases, the two terms are used interchangeably. If you’re attentive to context this won’t be a problem.

Definitions and research

The American Medical Association has prepared a terrific report defining and describing sexual assault. Read the first paragraph of the report on page 4 in particular. About 20 percent of women–one in every five–have been sexually assaulted by age 21. This is based on estimates, because the reporting rate on rape is so much lower than the actual number of rapes that occur.

Also read the Medem article from the ACOG Educational Bulletin called “Definitions of Sexual Assault”–at least the first few paragraphs–to learn more about the definition and get statistics about different kinds of sexual assault. (ACOG stands for American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists–the first national medical group of its kind to recognize rape as a public health issue.)

The information founds at these links above will tell you that not all rape is committed by men, and that is true. The vast majority of rapes are committed by men, but a small minority of rapes are committed by women. I can’t help thinking how much money the U.S. (government, companies, communities, and individuals) could save if we could find a way to use funding to prevent men from raping women, instead of just helping victims recover after the fact.

As a country, we’re spending a truckload of money on all sorts of victim assistance programs–worthy programs that currently need to continue–but I can’t find any federal bills like this aimed at actually preventing men from raping women. No training programs, no national tours by respected male athletes or other public figures, no TV commercials, nothing. It all seems aimed at women. Research shows that that’s because women listen. They need to listen for their own safety. Men as a gender won’t go to a “Stop Rape Now” type of event because they don’t need to–they’re generally not in danger of being raped. And a rapist is certainly not going to attend. Other solutions have to be created and funded.

A couple of years ago I conducted a highly unscientific straw poll of my male friends, asking them what could be done to prevent male sexual assault of women (not merely treat the victims afterward). One said there wasn’t any way to prevent it. Another suggested that the only way to get to a rapist before he raped someone was to “train him from birth.” A third thought a moment and said, “A gun.” All took the issue seriously, but none were even willing to go as far as confronting other males on sexually entitled behavior, assaults with alcohol, or sexual bullying. Male-to-male confrontation is a vital part of the fight against rape.

Although this was unscientific, it was exactly the correct first step we need to take in the U.S. (Our country is very near the bottom of the list among First World countries for its high sexual assault rate, rape penalties, and conviction rate.) Ask men how to prevent rape, including (especially) asking rapists. Listen to their answers. Begin formulating plans.

Whatever our views, we can contribute very effectively to this issue for the future by

  • raising our sons never to commit or accept violence against women, and by
  • raising our daughters to expect never to be violated, and to reject permanently and at the first occurrence all men who do violence to them. That’s right–no second chances. Your daughter is worth it. Your mother, your sister, your girlfriend or wife, is worth so much that she should not tolerate violence. Period. This doesn’t cut the man off from having love in his life. It gives him the chance and the motivation to change his ways, find another person to love, and not do violence to her.
  • It has come to my attention that the above concept wasn’t explained or clear for marriage or a committed relationship. Within that type of relationship, you wouldn’t necessarily end the entire relationship with the first episode of violence. But you would leave immediately for your own safety. Then, as is commonly and wisely advised, you would communicate to the violent partner (be prudent–just leave a letter behind) that if they want the relationship to continue, they must go to individual therapy, join in couples counseling when the therapist says they’re ready, and not pressure you to return to the relationship. The goal here is a permanently zero-violence relationship–a completely reasonable requirement of any civilized partner who truly loves you. A therapist of course can’t guarantee zero violence, but can work extensively with the violent partner to develop new and better habits and make sure those habits are in place before putting you two together again. When the therapist indicates the time is right, you should begin couples counseling together at the same time your partner is still in therapy for the violence. The two of you will probably be advised not to live together until both types of therapy have progressed far enough.
  • Please note: A violent partner’s promises to stop being violent or go to therapy are not an acceptable substitute for actual therapy. Study after study has shown that the violence continues. Sadly, in many cases, the violence only ends with death. You must leave. This keeps you (and your children, if any) safe, and it puts the pressure of the violent relationship on the violent partner, where it belongs.
  • A note for anyone who has experienced partner violence: Nothing you do excuses your partner’s violence, and you don’t deserve it. If your partner blames your behavior for his/her violence, that’s a way of making you take the responsibility and pay the price for someone else’s actions. It’s the equivalent of a three-year-old hitting his mother, and when his mother says, “No, you mustn’t hit Mommy,” the three-year-old replies, “Bad Mommy!” Blaming the victim is classic behavior for a violent partner.
  • The zero-tolerance policy never changes–no one gets a free pass to be violent to you–but your handling of the situation will be different depending on the relationship.

If we trained our children with the “zero tolerance for violence” policy, it would make a tremendous difference in our national crime statistics for the next generation.

Here are outstanding books I’ve personally read on the subjects of self-defense. I can also recommend from personal experience the Impact/BAMM self-defense courses.

For emergencies, crises, referrals, or emotional support (all confidential):

  • Emergency number: If you are assaulted or in imminent danger, call 911 directly.
  • (For the record: If a man is standing outside your locked door–especially if he’s armed with a gun or knife–trying to break it down and yelling that he’s going to kill you, that’s imminent danger. Call 911.)
  • (For the record 2: If a man is standing outside your locked door, unarmed, trying to break it down and yelling anything threatening whatsoever at you, that’s imminent danger too. Call 911.
  • National rape hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). For TDD call 1-800-787-3224.
  • RAINN national rape hotline (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
  • SARA hotline (Sexual Assault Resource Agency): 1-434-977-7273.
  • Disturbing statistics on their home page, unfortunately accurate.
  • Victim hotline (National Center for Victims of Crime–open for calls from 8:30 am-8:30 pm Monday through Friday): 1-800-FYI-CALL (394-2255)

Stalking–New Subject, New Resources

Stalking graphic: Real Fear, Real CrimeI’m adding stalking and sexual harassment resources to the sexual assault resources already on this blog. Here are great websites for victims of stalking and violent crime:

  • To start, visit the National Center for Victims of Crime. Then navigate to the Stalking Resource Center page. There you’ll find statistics on stalking, statistics from college campuses, a fact sheet and more. From this home page, you can also look up resources and publications about stalking and access resources in Spanish.
  • January 2008 is National Stalking Awareness Month.
  • Another great info source on many types of violence against women is the Violence Against Women site. It covers everything from bullying and dating violence to stalking and human trafficking.
  • The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has an impressive list of information and resources in both English and Spanish for victims of many types of violence.
  • VictimLaw was launched to be a user-friendly and fairly comprehensive database of information on crime victim-related law.

This will get you started. With these resources you can take a quiz to find out whether you’re in a violent or high-risk relationship (and if you’re wondering, you probably are), find out your rights, read about applicable law, and get help in getting out and getting safe from a stalking situation or within a relationship.