Psychological profile of the rapist: 12 common traits

In February 2015, a young student was murdered in Turkey after resisting sexual assault. His body was found burned. Not long ago there was a wave of rapes of minors in India, many of whom later appeared dead. In different African countries, many women are raped with the intention of transmitting the fear of the local population.

These cases and many others are examples of situations in which the continuation of sexual intercourse has been forced, that is, cases in which rape has been committed. And you don’t have to go that far to find cases: a case known within our borders occurred last year when a young woman was raped by several individuals during the festivities of Sant Fermí.

This is not a rare phenomenon: in our country alone, it is estimated that a woman is raped every eight hours. This is why psychology and other sciences have attempted to draw a psychological profile of the rapist, finding common traits that allow us to work on elements that can lead to sexual assault. In this article, we will try to find a series of twelve common characteristics in rapists and we will see the psychological patterns that make up the rapist’s profile.

    What is rape called?

    While we all know pretty much what we are talking about when we hear the word rape, understanding something is a necessary step in finding ways to prevent it from happening again, so conceptualizing the term rape is a helpful step in understanding. what a rapist does. And be able to identify their psychological profile.

    It is understood as a violation of sexual assault in which a person engages in non-consensual sex with another. These relationships take place in direct opposition to the assault victim, using coercion, force, or elements that cloud the victim’s judgment, such as drugs. Although rape is generally thought to include penetration, this is not necessarily the case.

    In addition, the carnal act is considered a violation with subjects who do not have enough understanding or judgment to assess the situation (such as people with disabilities or mental issues that cloud their judgment, minors or even human beings. other animal species) or who are unable to state their position in this regard (people asleep, in a coma or on drugs).

    Most rapes are committed by men, although there are also cases where the perpetrators are women. While there are cases where the victim is an adult male (whether male or female perpetrator), victims are usually women, people with physical or mental difficulties, or minors. It is also common for the rapist to know the victim in advance., And it is not uncommon that it belongs to the family or the close circle.

    The main consequences of sexual assault

    If the rape is experienced violently, it is common for the victim to avoid situations and places that remind them of the event, as well as flashbacks, depressive and dissociative symptoms and other symptoms, being one of the most common reasons. most common and studied disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder.

    In many cases, this makes the assaulted person fearful of reporting the abuse, either because they refuse to accept what they have been through, or because they believe that they will not be understood or even that they are not understood. ‘she will be blamed for the situation.

    This is why social awareness and psychological work are necessary to prevent, detect and treat cases of rape or other assault (fortunately, more and more cases are being reported to their attackers).

    Types of sexual abuser

    Once we understand the concept of rape we can move on to trying define a psychological profile common to all rapists.

    However, the various studies and experts who have dealt with the subject have come up against a problem: there are a very wide variety of reasons and ways for one subject to decide to force another to have relationships. Some types of sex offenders are as follows.

    1. Circumstantial, occasional or opportunistic rapist

    These are subjects that use a situation or event to execute the violation. This is the case with rapes at parties and events. These are generally not pre-planned assaults.

    They can act under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or take advantage of the fact that the victim has consumed them to act and force the consumption of the sexual act.

    2. Explosive rapist

    This type of rapist seeks to subjugate his victim following a violent impulse of domination. His goal is to commit a sexual assault, regardless of the victim. For him, rape is clearly an act of power and violence, and not so much a sexual act (although this is also the case for other types of rapists, but not so obviously).

    3. Furious rapist

    This subject uses rape as an act of punishment against someone he considers to be a gender representative, A social or collective group that has caused you harm (real or imaginary). In other words, he experiences rape through a clear bias based on stereotypes and sometimes political content.

    4. Offender seeking trust or compensation

    He is a type of rapist who has a distorted perception of the relationship between the abuser and the victim.. The aggressor considers that his action will make the victim enjoy and bring her closer to the object of his desire, and may even establish a romantic relationship.

    4. Sadistic rapist

    In this type of individuals, a link between sexual arousal and aggression is observed.. The start of an interaction that the subject considers exciting can increase the subject’s aggressiveness and experience aggressive impulses towards his victim, forcing him. It is not uncommon for them to present with an antisocial disorder and paraphilia known as sexual sadism, and in the case of rape to be cast directly, unfiltered.

    6. Violation as a control mechanism

    Some rapes are committed for a purpose independent of sexual satisfaction and the power of the abuser. This is the case with certain systematic violations committed during wars, in which sexual assault is used as a method to humiliate and control the population and to lower the morale of the enemy country. It is a strategic use of this type of violence, through the achievement of local objectives beyond this action itself.

    The rapist’s profile and his characteristics

    While it is true that due to the great diversity of variables that influence the commission of such an act, we cannot speak of a single rapist profile, it is possible to locate a certain number of variables which, although they do not apply in all cases, are very common among different types of sex offenders.

    It is important to note: there is no single prototype rapistAnd the following characteristics, while they may be common, do not identify all rapists.

    1. They don’t need to have a weird personality

    Most people don’t rape. This may suggest that a typical profile of a rapist must be that of a person with enormous peculiarities, characteristics that most people do not have and that make them, in their daily lives, lonely people without. normal contact with society. While this may be true in some specific cases, it usually is not.

    A large majority of violations are committed by subjects with a personality that is “normal”. and that they have friends, family and work. In fact, many of them are people with a partner, with whom they usually have a conventional relationship.

    2. Power, not sex

    One of the most common characteristics of most rapists is that the real purpose of their action is not to get gratification. sexual.

    For the majority, people who rape knowing what they are doing seek out and are attracted to the idea of ​​exercising dominance, To make others do something against their will and to obey the interests of the aggressor. In other words, in rape what is wanted is not only sex, but also and above all what is wanted is the exercise of power.

    3. They tend to look for victims they deem weaker

    Although there have been cases where the victim is a physically stronger person than the abuser, generally, people who commit sexual assault seek out victims whom they consider to be physically weaker than they or those who know how to take advantage of their weaknesses.

    In both cases, the choice of the victim is linked to the possibility of exercising power either over someone they believe they can subjugate, or over someone they consider superior and they want to see them. – even humiliated and inferior.

    4. Feelings of inferiority and vital frustration

    Another element shared by most rapists is the presence of a strong sense of frustration and inferiority which can be expressed by outbursts of violence.

    While they don’t have to prove it in most aspects of their daily lives and may even act arrogantly, these feelings of inferiority can elicit a reaction in the form of a desire to dominate the world. a desire that in some people can lead to sexual assault.

    5. Little capacity for empathy

    Sexual assault happens for some reason, rapists usually have very little or no capacity for empathy. like that, the sex offender cannot, does not care or chooses not to think about what rape means for the victimOr he comes to consider that the satisfaction of his desire for power and sex deserves the suffering of the victim. This is visible in many cases which indicate that the victim really wanted to have sex or that she really enjoyed the situation.

    6. No anticipation of consequences

    It has been observed that many rapists never thought about what might happen after committing the act, Whether the case would be investigated or if they would be found and arrested. This reflects a certain lack of anticipation of the consequences of their own actions, whether for themselves or for others. This factor would not be decisive for people that what they are really looking for is the consequence per se of the act rather than the act itself.

    7. Possible antecedents of abuse or learning of coercive sex

    As with gender-based violence, many people who currently commit sexual offenses have in turn been abused or abused as children, or have witnessed the abuse of other important family members.

    This leads them to ultimately identify coercion as a normal way of proceeding., And that even if they know it is socially frowned upon, they may feel the need to undertake the act.

    8. They consider that they have the right to commit aggression

    In a large number of cases, those who commit rape believe they have the right to force the victim, Sometimes for cultural reasons. Thus, sexual assault is more frequent in people and regions where some consideration of the superiority of the man over the woman persists, or where they consider that their needs are above others.

    9. They are not mentally ill

    While the typical image of a rapist is that of a psychopath or a mentally ill person, to view sex offenders as mentally ill would be misleading and reductive.

    It is possible to see that certain personality disorders such as antisocials can facilitate such an action. and it is true that cases of rape can be found during psychotic states, manic states or perpetrated by people with intellectual disabilities, but as a rule, sexual abusers are able to correctly judge the situation and know what is happening. they do.

    10. Most are entirely attributable

    A consequence of the previous point. Since the majority of subjects who commit such acts are fully aware that their acts are harmful and punishable by society, in general, rapists are legally responsible.

    11. escape responsibility

    A common feature in many cases where psychopathy or psychopathology does not occur is the attempt to shirk responsibility for the act. It is common to justify conduct through substance use or to pretend to be psychopathologically to escape punishment. In terms of reports, beyond legal proceedings, it is common for the victim to be blamed.

    12. blame the victim

    Some of the subjects who commit rape usually indicate that the fault for the situation lies with the victim himself.. Phrases such as “was going to provoke”, “basically wanted” and their variations are common among sex offenders who have been arrested, avoiding taking charge of the situation and apologizing.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Burguess, AG; Burguess, AW; Douglas, J. and Ressler, R. (1992). Crime Classification Manual. Lexington Books.

    • Cáceres, J. (2001). Paraphilias and rape. Madrid: Editorial Síntesi.

    • González, E .; Martinez, V .; Leyton, C. and Bardi, A. (2004). Characteristics of sexual abusers. Tower. Sogia; 1 (1): 6-14.

    • Marshall, W. (2001). Sexual abusers. Studies on violence. Ed. Ariel. p. 107.

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