This week I was a guest provider in a domestic violence support group at a local domestic violence shelter. As some of the group members also had issues related to sexual violence and abuse, they asked me to come and talk about offenders. So I thought I would post information I give out in my work at a rape crisis center about the personality characteristics of rapists.

The FBI has established four personality characteristics to predict the behavior of rapists, defined by motive, style of attack and psychosexual characteristics. While most rapists will fit into one of the profiles, due to the fact that there are a variety of personalities, there is no one correct characteristic for a profile. Suspects may exhibit characteristics from one or more of the profiles.

Power Reassurance Rapist – 81%

To resolve self-doubts by reassuring himself of his masculinity with no real intent to further harm his victim.


Surprise Approach with force.
Strikes between midnight and 5 am, usually at the victim’s residence.
Selects victims through voyeurism.
Attacks victims who are alone or with small children.
Negotiates with the victim.
Does whatever the victim allows him to do.
Attacks in his own residence or work area.
Commits single assault.
May keep a diary.
Social Interaction:

Few friends
Self-concept as a loser
Menial job with little public contact
Power Assertive Rapist – 12%

To resolve self-doubts by reassuring himself of his masculinity with no real intent to further harm his victim.


Exploits opportunity after one or two dates
Slaps, hits, curses, tears rather than removes clothes
Waits 20-25 days between assaults
Performs multiple assaults
disrobes victim
Doesn’t use mask or disguise
Social Interaction:

Flashy car
frequents singles bars
“Hard hat” act
“Macho” type
Anger Retaliatory Rapist – 5%

To punish or degrade women by getting even; uses sex as a weapon for real or perceived injustices placed on him by women.


Acts spontaneously
Commits assaults in his own area
Social Interaction:
Minimal contact with others
Works at “Action jobs”
Anger Excitation Rapist – 2%

Infliction of pain or erotic aggression.


Uses premeditated con-style approach
Immobilizes victim
Assaults away from his area
Uses weapon and/or tools of choice
Usually records his assaults
Learns quickly by experience
Does not experience remorse
Social Interaction:

Family man
“Good marriage”
Middle class
The experts have isolated a number of factors that can predispose one to becoming a rapist. Watch out for the following:

Emotional abuse
Tries to control elements of your life
Gets easily jealous
Gets angry if you offer to pay on a date
Is physically violent
Doesn’t view you as an equal
Is intimidating in a physical and emotional way

The following tips could well save you from becoming a victim.

Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with a person you don’t know well.
Check the credentials of anyone you let into your home (i.e. repairmen, market researchers)
Date in groups or with a chaperone until you are comfortable with your partner.
Set firm limits on the amount of physical intimacy, if any, you will allow on a date.
Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable around a guy, get away.
If trapped with someone who is intent on rape, try passive resistance first. Try talking, screaming, even vomiting if you have to.
Failing passive resistance, move to active resistance. Don’t hesitate – fight back! Get angry – not afraid – that this person would dare to violate you. Bite, kick, scratch – whatever it takes.
In a date rape situation, use the shock tactic of calling the attack what it is. “This is rape! I’m calling the police,” may put a halt to the attack.
If you are unable to fend off the attack, concentrate on remembering details so you can identify the assailant later. Scratching him will leave forensic evidence with you.
If you are overpowered do not condemn yourself for not being able to resist.
Given that the goal of all women who are in imminent danger of being raped is to avoid it, they should rely on their instincts rather than assume that they have to submit. But whatever her instincts tell her to do, if a woman survives, she made the right choice.

Call your local rape crisis hotline is you need help, need information, and need support.