Understanding Rapists as Predators

Admin note: **Trigger warning** for the article linked to this post.  

One thing that is often missing from serious discussions of sexual assault on campus is the willingness to see some student perpetrators as criminal predators: repeat sexual offenders who have a method tailored to execute the exact kind of rape that is most likely to be seen as an “unfortunate gray area incident.” Recent studies in criminology, not just victimology, have revealed that this is exactly what happens much of the time. This understanding of rapists as often predatory criminals is an important prerequisite to moving forward in efforts to reduce sexual assault.

Excerpted from the middle:

“It is the modus operandi that keeps the undetected rapist undetected: they correctly identify a methodology that will put them under the protection of the rape culture. They are unlikely to be convicted because the story doesn’t fit the script. In fact, they are unlikely to be arrested because the story doesn’t lead to easy convictions. In fact, they are unlikely to be reported because rape survivors know that the tactics these men use leave them with little real recourse. In fact, these rapists may put the victim in a position where she is so intoxicated or terrified or just isolated and defeated that she never even says “no,” and because the culture overwhelmingly refuses to call these tactics what they are, even the victims themselves may be unable to call it rape for a very long time afterward, if ever.”



3 thoughts on “Understanding Rapists as Predators

  1. The problem is that if this is true, then there are (at least) two disturbing consequences:

    1. What ASC is doing is not – and could never be – effective at addressing the problem of rape at Haverford. If rapists really are incorrigible lost causes, then no amount of proselytizing about the importance of obtaining “enthusiastic consent” could ever get through to them. The flip side of this is that the people who aren’t raping are really in no danger of becoming rapists, and so the message is equally wasted on them. If the non-sociopaths among us are already following the necessary protocols vis-a-vis consent, then they really don’t need any instruction, right?

    2. What ASC is doing is dangerous. If rapists really are criminals like any other, and not simply “decent people” who find themselves hurting their peers unintentionally because of poor communication, then it is unconscionable for anyone to ever counsel rape victims to do anything other than report their assailant to the police. We do not respond to thefts on campus by calling for the creation of “theft advisory committees,” and we do not attempt to set up Deans’ Panels to mediate between thief and victim. If the rapes that have occurred at Haverford really are heinous, premeditated crimes, then why would ASC advocate anything less than reporting every suspected incident to law enforcement?

    • Addressing your first point, the original article notes: “The 76 repeat rapists, just 4% of the sample, were responsible for 28% of the reported violence.” This small group will unlikely change as a result of information about consent given to them. However, the other 96% of rapists in that study were considered one-time offenders (not sociopaths), and may be more mindful about consent if given the information. Also, your assumption that not-rapists will continue to be so with or without proper education is not necessarily true.

      Your second point has a ton of misunderstandings about ASC’s goals and message:

      1. ASC is an activist campaign promoting awareness and education about issues of rape, healthy sexuality and relationships, and consent on campus. On-campus resources dedicated to working with survivors include SOAR, the Women’s Center, Safety & Security, and CAPS;

      2. Even though ASC does not work directly with survivors, it does NOT support mediation with their assailants;

      3. When the discussion of reporting the incident comes up, the most important thing is for the survivor to feel in control and comfortable with the decision. If he/she does not want to report it for fear of retribution by the assailant, concern about accusations of “crying rape,” or any other reason, that is the survivor’s choice. While reporting the incident (which is different from filing an investigation) is the right thing to do, pressuring the survivor will do more harm than good.

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