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Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists

NCJ Number
Violence and Victims Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2002 Pages: 73-84
David Lisak; Paul M. Miller
Date Published
12 pages
The study looked at specific similarities between incarcerated rapists and self-reported rapists that went undetected and evaded criminal justice prosecution. The researchers were also interested to know if these same undetected men commited other acts of interpersonal violence, as is often the case with imprisoned rapists.
Common characteristics between incarcerated and undetected rapists include high levels of anger at women, the need to dominate, hypermasculinity, lack of empathy, and antisocial traits. One hundred and twenty male college students were studied. Researchers investigated their self-reported acts of attempted rape or rape that met the legal definition, and evaded the criminal justice system and were never prosecuted. This study also wanted to know the proportion of self-reported rapists who committed repeated rapes that went undetected and if these same rapists were guilty of other acts of interpersonal violence towards women. Out of 1,882 college men surveyed, 120 met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. The results showed that 70 of the 120 (58.3 percent) men self-reported other forms of interpersonal violence including battery, physical/sexual abuse of children, and forms of sexual assault that did not meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. In total, these 120 men committed 1,225 different acts of interpersonal violence, and 76 (63.3 percent) of the 120 college students had raped more than once, i.e., repeat rapists. On average, they committed 6 rapes and 14 acts of interpersonal violence. Remarkably, these repeat offenders were responsible for 1,045 of the reported 1,225 acts of interpersonal violence. The above findings suggest that these undetected rapists are similar to incarcerated rapists who have been found to commit acts of interpersonal violence towards women in addition to rape. Moreover, since these college men's victims tended to be acquaintances within their social networks, and there were minimal physical injuries, the likelihood of prosecutors viewing these as "real rapes" was low. This is an issue that has been studied extensively. The researchers suggest that prosecutors take these rape cases seriously especially in light of research showing the overlap between sexual assault and battery among perpetrators. In the end these difficult-to-prosecute cases could turn into multiple-victim cases. Tables, references