Topic: Violence and abuse

Men who have committed rape- a review.

Kruse, A. E., Strandmoen, J. F., & Skjørten, K. (2013). Menn som har begått voldtekt - en kunnskapsstatus [Men who have committed rape- a review.] Norwegian only.

Rape is a significant social problem that affects between 10 and 15 % of Norwegian
women and between 1 and 3 % of Norwegian men at some point during their lifetime.
Rape has serious consequences, both for those who are victims of such violations, their
relatives and for society at large. Victims often struggle with both short term and long
term after effects, and many experience both mental and physical symptoms. Relatives
are exposed to strain and stress when a close one has experienced rape, which is a
potentially very traumatic event. Both relatives and society at large are affected by the
problem of rape because it creates anger, fear and concern. Some fear being raped
themselves, others fear that someone they know may be at risk.

The focus of this report is adult men who have committed rape against adult victims.
Hence, research on young people who commit sexual abuse, adults who sexually abuse
children or women who commit rape or other forms of sexual violations are not within
the scope of this report.

Risk factors
There are three general risk factors related to being subjected to rape; gender, age and
use of alcohol and/or drugs. Women are victims of rape to a much greater extent than
men are, and especially young women are at great risk. This report shows that selfreport
surveys, statistics from assistance/help agencies and crime statistics all indicate
that girls/women between 15 and 25 years are at an especially high risk. New
figures from Statistics Norway, prepared especially for this report, show that between
55 and 60% of victims of reported rape and attempted rape in the years 2004–2011
were aged 15 to 24 years. There are also clear indications that many of those who
commit rape are in the same age group. This implies that adolescents and young
adults are a very important group to reach, both in terms of primary, secondary and
tertiary prevention. Use of alcohol and/or drugs in both victim and perpetrator is a
factor in many rape cases, but substance use does not occur equally often in all types
of rape. For example, substance use is a factor in many party-related rapes, whereas in
rape in intimate relationships substance use occurs less frequently for both parties

Characteristics and theories
Rape occurs in many different contexts and situations, and between people who know
each other to a greater or lesser extent. Our review of research on rape shows that the
majority of such violations happen between people who know each other. They may know each other well, if the perpetrator is an intimate partner, they may have been
good friends or acquaintances, or they may have had a more short-term acquaintance
prior to the rape.

The preparatory work to the rape clause (section 192) in the Norwegian Criminal Code
makes it clear that rape in the legal sense covers a wide range of actions, and that what
constitutes violence or threats should be defined relative to and depending on the
context the rape happens in. That rape is not a uniform phenomenon, but is expressed
in many different ways, means that it is necessary to distinguish between different types
of rape when trying to understand rape as a social problem and phenomenon. In this
report we address different types of rape that occur in Norway, including partner rape,
marital rape, rape between friends or acquaintances, party-related rape, assault rape,
gang rape and rape of especially vulnerable persons. The main chapter of the report
deals with characteristics of and theories about rape offenders in three different types
of rape: partner rape (between spouses, cohabitants or in dating relationships), rape
between friends and acquaintances (including casual acquaintances) and assault rapes
(committed by a stranger).

When it comes to characteristics of the rape perpetrator, two general features stand out.
One is that the vast majority of those who commit such violations are men. Secondly,
in most cases those who commit rape know the person that they violate. The proportion
of perpetrators of different relation types vary depending on which source one
uses (police registration statistics, self-report surveys or statistics from assistance/help
agencies). Mostly, the largest group of perpetrators is friends and acquaintances (including casual acquaintances). Partners make up between 10 % and one third of the perpetrators, while the proportion of stranger perpetrators ranges between 20 and 50 %.

From statistics on reported or convicted perpetrators in rape cases, it becomes clear
that these also share certain characteristics. They often have previous criminal convictions,
they have often experienced violence, abuse and/or neglect in their childhood
and/or adolescence, they often have problems with substance abuse, poor levels of
education and/or poor connection to working life, and they often have poor mental
health. However, there are several problems with generalization of information about
reported/convicted perpetrators to the larger group of persons who commits rape or
other sexual violations. Rape is a crime that has a low police reporting rate, and few of
the cases that are reported end in conviction. It is important to be aware of this generalization problem when considering research, knowledge and information about rape perpetrators. However, some research has been conducted on men who have committed rape, but who have not been prosecuted or convicted for their actions. This research will also be presented in the report, along with information on men undergoing treatment for sexual violence issues. A proportion of those in treatment will also be convicted for sexual offenses, but not necessarily all.

In North American research on rape perpetrators, one has found that they are often
characterized by anger or resentment towards women, a need to dominate and control,
negative relationships with their fathers and a marked uncertainty about their own
masculine identity. Attitudes and beliefs that imply tolerance for or acceptance of sexually
violent behavior, either in the offender himself or in his social context, can sustain
such behavior. This indicates that clear reactions from society to the offenders’ behavior
can be important for the prevention of new violations in the future. The risk of being
subjected to partner rape is considered to be greater for women living in abusive relationships, and some women who have been victims of partner rape report these rapes
to be part of systematic, demeaning and humiliating abuse. Status differences between
the parties in an intimate relationship may increase the risk of partner rape. Some rapes
seem to reflect a form of sexual sadism, but such rapes seem relatively unusual.

When it comes to use of violence, it appears that violent forms such as immobilization,
beating, verbal threats or weapon threats, exploitation of forms of increased vulnerability
or unconsciousness (substance or otherwise induced), and other forms of coercion
are more common than rough or expressive physical violence. There are indications
that acquaintance rapes more often are characterized by the former, while rough or
expressive physical violence is more common in both assault rapes and partner rapes.
However, it is important to point out that immobilization, beating, threats and exploitation
of states of vulnerability and/or unconsciousness are all intrusive and severe
forms of violence, and that rape under such circumstances can be very traumatic for
the victim. In addition, acquaintance rapes can also be physically violent and motivated
by aggression, anger or a need to control or dominate.

In recent rape research, there is little systematic knowledge about perpetrators of assault
rape as a specific group. According to the Norwegian police registration data, a high
percentage of these have ethnic minority backgrounds. However, dark figures for
assault rape imply that we currently cannot neither confirm nor disprove the over- or
under-representation of persons of non-Norwegian background in the whole group of
assault rape perpetrators. Our review of international research on perpetrators of
assault rape suggests that such violations can roughly be divided into two types; a
‘violent’ and a ‘sexual’ type, based on what researchers presume is the primary motivation
of the offender. In the ‘violent’ type, the perpetrator is characterized by impulsivity
and a «theft mentality», stable low empathy and use of either instrumental or both
instrumental and expressive violence. In the ‘sexual’ type, less crude physical violence
is used and weapon threats may be the preferred power asset, and the perpetrator isreferred to as more confused; one that may try to convince himself that a relationship
with the victim exists.

Researchers from various disciplines have tried to create good models to explain why
someone commits rape or other types of sexual assault. In this report, we describe some
of these and present explanatory models based on trauma and adverse childhood experiences; power, powerlessness and sexuality; as well as more general psychological
explanatory models, including a presentation of key issues within the more recent
cognitive rape research. These models for understanding offenders’ behavior show that
rape cannot be explained with reference to one or only a few factors. Consistently
throughout the theoretical field, there is consensus that many factors act together to
create the conditions for committing a rape. Important dimensions in the explanatory
models are the offender’s relation to his own and others’ sexuality, the relationship
between power and powerlessness, trauma and the significance of adverse early life
experiences, the offender’s lack of insight into his own behavior and his inability or
unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions.

Relapse, treatment and prevention 
At the end of the report, we present research on rape and sexual assault recidivism,
treatment of convicted perpetrators of rape and what we believe are important principles
in dealing with rape prevention in Norway. In our view, primary prevention and
development of research and knowledge are still the two main areas for prevention of
rape in Norway as the situation is today. Our work on this report has shown that the
knowledge base of rape in a Norwegian context is limited. As long as knowledge is the
most important prerequisite for creating good preventive measures, this is a crucial