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Sex Offenders

Patterns of Sex Offending

Although sex offender typologies are unique to each offender, several attempts have been made to create categories that classify offenders by their behaviors, their victims, their reasons for offending, and their risk of reoffending. Such typologies have been developed to assist service providers in identifying appropriate treatment, supervision, and criminal justice responses. Unfortunately, most typologies are either extremely complex or have little research to validate the accuracy of these "offender blueprints."30 And not all offenders will fit into one specific typology.

Read on for information about three different types of sex offenders. This information has been adapted from the National Center for Women & Policing's Successfully Investigating Acquaintance Sexual Assault: A National Training Manual for Law Enforcement:31

Power Rapists

Power rapists generally use just enough force (e.g., verbal or physical force, threat of force) to overcome victims' resistance and carry out their sexual assaults. Researchers have identified two types of power rapists: power reassurance rapists and power assertive rapists.

Power reassurance rapists

  • Sexually assault to compensate for their lack of confidence or social skills.
  • Generally have low self-esteem, are not athletic, have little social contact, and are underachievers.
  • May consider their rapes consensual encounters, providing victims with their contact information for future encounters.
  • Commit their crimes close to where they live or work, where they feel most comfortable.
  • Record the details of their attacks.
  • Take souvenirs from victims or the scene to relive their fantasies.

Power assertive rapists—

  • Attack in an impulsive, spontaneous, and unplanned manner.
  • Use weapons only if they typically carry them.
  • Are very self-centered and controlling, even in the workplace.
  • Exercise and take pride in their appearance.
  • Use abusive language.
  • Select victims the same age or older.

Anger Rapists

Anger rapists use an excessive amount of force, whether or not victims resist. Their personalities are explosive and they often use abusive language and cause significant physical injury. Friends and acquaintances of anger rapists may report a dark side to their personalities or lifestyles.

Generally, anger rapists want to get even with victims for real or imagined wrongs. They often choose victims who are symbolic of someone else. They spend a short amount of time with victims, using a blitz method of attack and subduing them using excessive force. The level of force results from intense rage and a near frenzy of emotions. Victims have little opportunity to resist and the level of resistance has little to do with the amount of force used. Because their attacks are spontaneous rather than carefully planned, anger rapists will generally use any weapon that is handy, including their fists.32 Anger rapists also often drink alcohol to release inhibitions.

Sadistic or Ritualistic Rapists

Sadistic rapists are sexually gratified by causing mental and physical pain, and they often specifically focus on injuring sexual areas on victims' bodies. For example, rape with objects or anal rape is common. Sadistic rapists are also opportunistic and may attack suddenly or kidnap their victims. The psychological and physical abuse often continues sporadically for hours and even days. Sadistic or ritualistic rapists generally have no history of mental health care, are college educated and extremely intelligent, and often have no arrest record.