Profiling Rapists

chalkboardApproximately 4/5 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim
82% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger
47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance
25% are an intimate
5% are a relative

Rape is not about sex. Rape is about anger and control and violence. Sex is merely the weapon. When viewing the different types of rapists, it’s important to understand the reasonings behind what they do. Not all rapists are alike. There will be differences in their motives, characteristics and techniques. Assailants may exhibit characteristics from one or more profiles.

The following information, selected characteristics of rapists, are from several resources including, Ronald M. Holmes, Stephen T. Holmes, Profiling Violent Crimes. An Investigative Tool (SAGE Publications, 1996), Seigal, Larry J., Criminology (Thompson Wadsworth, 2003), and Gene Ragula, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI serial rapist pro-filer, as well as numerous websites.

According to Ronald and Steven Holmes, “Most rapists tend to be young … with most under age 25. Many come from low economic backgrounds and are members of minority groups; most choose victims of their own race …. Many rapists’ psycho-sexual backgrounds include histories of conflict and other trouble with women … marked inability to relate to women personally and sexually.

Rapists are usually unarmed. Most stranger rapists plan their attacks and most have histories of violence. One in three has a prior record for a violent crime and 25% have been before the court for rape.

However, statistics show that the majority of rapes (80%) are perpetrated by acquaintances of the victim. It should be emphasized that these characteristics apply only to stranger rape.

Disorganized Asocial Offender vs. Organized Nonsocial Offender

The FBI developed a rapist typology which originally included the disorganized asocial offender and organized nonsocial offender classifications. This typology, according to Holmes, ” …can be very useful when the crimes at issue involve sex as their primary motive.”

Disorganized Asocial Offender

This type of offender is a male who is completely disorganized with everything. From his appearance to his surroundings, his lifestyle, his car, and his job, he is totally disorganized in every aspect of his life. According to the FBI’s data, he tends to be a non assertive, white male, with a low average IQ, often a high school drop out.

He usually exhibits poor hygiene and his home and car [if he has one] are sloppy as well. He has a socially inept, introverted personality with little or no social life. Because of his lack of organizational, social, and intellectual skills, he usually doesn’t have the ability to carefully plan his attacks, so they tend to be spontaneous.

According to the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit (BSU), this type of offender will often return to the scene of the crime or may attend the funeral services of his victim. This disorganized pattern of behavior may carry over to the crime scene as well. Below are some crime scene characteristics from Holmes’, Profiling Violent Crimes:

  • Spontaneous offense
  • Victim unknown
  • Minimal Conversation
  • Chaotic crime scene
  • Sudden violence
  • No restraints
  • Sex after death
  • Body not moved
  • Weapon left
  • Physical evidence

Organized Nonsocial Offender

This is a different animal altogether. He’s the complete opposite of the disorganized offender. He has very organized, even compulsive, thinking processes and behaviors, which tend to show in his appearance, lifestyle, car, and employment. Ted Bundy is a classic example of this type of offender. He had a very anal personality.

This type of offender is organized in everything he does. According to Holmes, “They are nonsocial because they choose to be so.” They are loners because they have an enormous ego and feel no one else measures up to them.

These type of offenders are usually very bright, have attended at least some college, “are socially competent and have sex partners.” They usually come from a middle class background, are very sociable and are able to con people easily. They tend to hold good jobs but often have a history of drug and alcohol abuse, especially while committing the crimes.

Because of his personality, he’s not the type to be suspected of the crime at first. He will take great care in both planning and committing his crimes, as well as getting rid of the evidence.

The organized offender, true to his personality, takes his time and picks just the “right” one – someone very vulnerable, who can be controlled. One killer remarked, ” I can tell by the way they walk, the way they tilt their heads. I can tell by the look in their eyes.

Other Characteristics [Holmes]:

  • Planned offense
  • Targeted stranger
  • Personalizes victim
  • Controlled Conversation
  • Controlled crime scene
  • Aggressive acts
  • Body moved
  • No weapon
  • Little evidence

Profiling Rapists

Rapist Typology is divided into four main categories: Power Reassurance, Power Assertive, Anger-Retaliatory, and the Anger Excitation (Sadistic) rapist.

Power Reassurance – 81%

This type of rapist is the least violent. This is known as the “gentleman” rapist. This is the guy who will pick a victim or “date” to fall in love with – if only temporary. He is inept and suffers from a very low self-esteem. His psychosocial background will usually include a single parent home, a 10th grade educational level, and a menial job. He’s quiet, passive, usually lives with an aggressive, controlling mother or alone; has no friends and no girlfriend.

He is a loner and considers himself a loser. He often spends time in adult bookstores, can be your local peeping Tom, or a transvestite. His first crime will usually be within walking distance of work or home. He’ll stalk his victims, watch them through their windows, then enter through those windows at a later time. He will usually attack in the victim’s home when she is alone or with a small child.

Strange as it may seem, rapists are also divided into “selfish” and “unselfish” groups. This type of rapist is considered to be verbally and sexually “unselfish”. He’s not out to hurt the victim. He fantasizes that the victim is his lover and they are on a date. He will usually pick someone from his own age group.

He believes that she is enjoying the rape. He may be courteous, polite and soft spoken, often talking to his victim trying, in his view, to be considerate. He generally attacks at 7-15 day intervals and will usually walk to the scene. He may display a weapon just to get cooperation from the victim but his intention is not to hurt her. This is not to say he can’t become violent, but he usually doesn’t.

He most often assaults the victim only vaginally and can be impotent. He rarely uses profanity but may want his victim to “talk dirty” to him. He may ask the victim to remove her clothes but may only reveal the body parts necessary for the rape to occur. He’s the only one of the four types who will re-assault a victim. He may say, ” I’ll call you,” after the “date” is finished.

He may call a victim later to ask after her health. He likes to collect souvenirs and may keep a diary. In my experience, there may be genital injuries but often not.

This is the easiest offender to deal with. His motive is sexual (even though rape is not about sex) He is trying to increase his self esteem through the control of another person. You can usually try talking him out of the rape, flat our refuse, or fight back. He really doesn’t want to hurt the victim and will use only enough force to control her.

If he does attack, and promises to return, have the police waiting – because he often will. His time for attacks are between midnight and 5:00am, so it’s good to be pro-active and keep the windows and doors locked. Security alarms are good. A dog doesn’t hurt either. For those students on or off campus, during a holiday break, try to leave with the other students. Female students left alone are prime targets.

Power Assertive – 12%

The Power Assertive rapist has an extreme sense of superiority and entitlement. He will rape women simply because he can. For him, rape is a way of validating his masculinity. This is what men do, according to him. He is the opposite of the passive Power Reassurance type of rapist. He is usually athletic, exercises often, likes a sense of style; dresses flashy and drives a flashy car, and is loud and boisterous. He likes the macho image. He wants to be known as a “man’s man”.

His psycho-social background will usually include a history of domestic problems and multiple divorces. He will probably work in a male dominated field like construction or police work. Unlike the peeping Tom type of rapist, this guy will haunt the singles bars where he can have plenty of females to pick from. He will use the con approach, getting to know his victim, then offering to give her a ride home or walking her to her car. He will usually rape away from where he lives or works.

His fists will be his weapon. He will use a moderate level of force, if the victim resists, and will assault the same victim repeatedly. He could care less about the comfort and well being of his victim. He may assault the victim vaginally, then anally, then force her to perform fellatio(classic technique). He will attack with both verbal and physical violence, committing a very brutal attack, although he doesn’t intend to kill. He may slap, hit, curse, and tear clothes.

He will attack most often in the early evening hours, between 7;00pm and 1:00am, and tends to commit the rapes in a 20-25 day pattern. He picks women of his own race and age group. His motive is control and domination of “the weaker sex”. He’s very arrogant and doesn’t try to hide his identity. There is no apology afterwords, nor will he attempt to contact the victim later. He keeps no souvenirs and doesn’t keep a diary.

Anger-Retaliatory – 5%

This guy is out to hurt someone. He blames women for all the injustices he has suffered in his life. His hate and anger are out of control. He wants to punish, hurt and degrade them. His psycho-social background includes physical and emotional abuse (more than 56%) from one or both parents. About 80% had divorced parents, many were adopted, and over half spent time in foster care. His relationships with significant females was extremely poor growing up which created very hostile feelings towards the opposite sex.

He sees himself as very masculine, is usually athletic, and often works in a fast-moving male dominated field or sport. He’s usually married and often has extramarital flings. He has a quick temper and his rapes usually occur after some negative event involving one of the women in his life. His urge is almost uncontrollable, as it’s the result of a built up of rage and anger.

He will use both verbal (excessive profanity) and physical assault, even murder. His attacks are very sudden, with little forethought. This is not a sexual act. This is rage. He intends to hurt and degrade his victim. He’s the type to “beat the living crap” out of his victim, assaulting her with his fists, feet, and weapons of choice. He will pick women of his own race and age, or slightly older and will usually stalk them while driving close to home. His pattern of raping is usually every 6 months to a year.

This victim will often have a lot of physical and genital injuries. In my experience, the few who have been assaulted this way, have come in with significant facial injuries at times – injured eye and cheek, with petechial hemorrhages, swollen cheek often with red marks; split lip, broken teeth, body bruises and cuts, (+) defensive injuries, and broken fingernails. If wearing a necklace, the victim will often have a necklace imprint bruise; (+) oral, vaginal, and /or anal injuries, etc. This is a very dangerous man.

Anger Excitation (sadistic) Rapist

This is the Ted Bundy of the group. This is your killer, straight out. But first, he’s going to beat and torture his victims. His intent is to degrade, torture, and kill. It’s the only way he can get sexual satisfaction. His psycho-social background will include being raised in a single parent household and suffering from physical abuse and sexual deviance. This type of child often shows aggressive and sexual promiscuity tendencies early on. As an adult, he’s often about 30-39, married with a family, and lives in a middle class, low crime area. He’s intelligent, educated, and usually has no arrest record. He’s very good at not getting caught.

This type of rapist puts a great deal of planning and fore-thought into his attacks. He stalks his victims by car, driving out of his area. He often carries a “rape kit” with all his needed tools, such as duct tape, scissors, bindings, ice pack, ski mask, pantyhose, etc.

He will usually take his victims to a secluded area where he can have complete control. He may keep them bound up for days or weeks, torturing and raping them. He will tell his victims what he plans to do to them in order to increase their fear. It’s not the injury to the victim which excites him. The fear the victim is feeling is what he needs.

He’s very very ritualistic, planning every detail of the abduction, torture, rape, murder, and disposal of the body, if he has become a killer at this point. Everything has to go according to script down to the last detail, including having the victim say specific things to him in order for him to obtain sexual satisfaction. This victim will be lucky to get away with her life.

Protecting yourself:  Please Go To Our Self Defense Page.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • In parking lots, don’t park next to vans. Park up under the lights.
  • Be wary of strange men asking for help. Ted Bundy pretended to be hurt and helpless, playing on women’s compassionate natures.
  • Always carry a cell phone
  • If you break down on the road, call for help. Don’t accept help from strangers, especially at night.
  • I strongly encourage self defense courses for all women.
  • Don’t allow yourself to get within an arm’s length of a stranger. If you’re within arm’s length, he can grab you. Never, ever turn your back on one or look away.
  • Dogs are nice, both at home and in the car.
  • If you live alone, get a male acquaintance to record for your answering machine. Have a dog barking in the background. Dogs are one of the best deterrents.
  • Always walk like you mean business. Don’t walk with your head down or act like you’re timid or vulnerable in any way. Look up, stay alert.