Rape, A Profile of a Crime

Let me start by stating that my favored sources on this topic are Roy Hazzelwood of the FBI, behavioral study unit (retired) and Dr. A. Nicholas Groth, psychologist and former director of forensic mental health associates.  Roy’s FBI definitions are based on Dr. Groths findings.  These are two of the most respected names on the topic.  They are authorities on the subject of sexual deviance crimes, rape and profiling.

There are two general types of rape:

A… where the attacker is known to the victim like “date rape”

B.. where the attacker and victim are strangers to each other.

Type A is where most rapes occur however virtually no self-defense class or system addresses this issue




Type B is the common boogie man that most self-defense info is aimed at (with little or no thought behind who this criminal really is).  This attacker is always a serial rapist even if it might happen to be his first attempt.  As a matter of self-defense it should be assumed that a serial rapist almost always has the capability to be a serial killer as well.

We will address this second type, to dispel any propagated myths that readers may have been led to believe.  Then address the much more difficult issues in another post.


This is Roy Hazelwood’s answer when questioned on women’s self defense;

“There’s a danger in providing advice for women if a rapist confronts them. I won’t give advice on that, because you’re dealing with three unknown variables:

You don’t know where this assault is going to take place and you would give different advice for location A as opposed to location B.

You don’t know the type of rapist she’s going to be confronted by. Is she going to be confronted by a power-assurance rapist whose fantasy is to have a consensual sexual relationship and if he uses physical violence, it corrupts his fantasy? Or is she going to be confronted by the sexual sadist who enjoys the suffering of his victims? There’s a world of difference.

You don’t know the strengths and weaknesses of all the women in your audience. In an audience of fifty, you’ve got fifty different personalities. So how do you give one piece of advice that’s appropriate for fifty different women?”



In general serial rapists have a motive and a fantasy. Everything revolves around these two things.  It is the rapists attempt to play or live out this fantasy.  The fantasy conditions the behavior.   The rapists “MO” or modus operandi  depends on the intelligence and experience of the rapist.  An “MO” will change over time but the fantasy will remain the same.

It is a mistake to make self-defense statements like “rapists look for long pony tails for control and clothing that allows easy access”.  In reality they have a fantasy and the victim will fit into this individual’s ideal victim profile.  No two rapists will have the same fantasy.  Some attackers may be angry at their mothers so they will pick a victim that reminds them somehow of their mother.  Some attackers may feel bitter and angry at women in general and may look to take revenge on the entire gender. With this knowledge in mind, preventative actions like hair style or dress cannot be logically advised.

Serial criminals can be divided into two categories “UNORGANIZED and ORGANIZED”.  Some rapists tends to start out as an unorganized attacker with no defined planning and  over time may develop into an organized attacker who plans and thinks out his crime well in advance. However some will start as organized and get even better at committing their crimes as time goes on.  The longer the rapists has thought about his fantasy before committing the act the more detailed the act will be.

An unorganized rapist tends to be more impulsive and leave more to chance and therefore might be easier to dissuade using self-defense skills and is more apt to leave behind clues for law enforcement.  However as an unorganized crime it is harder for law enforcement to recognize as a serial offender.

A well thought out  detail oriented “organized” criminal will be much harder to escape from since he will have prepared for an abduction, bringing things like duct tape, rope, ect.  From a self-defense perspective your best chance for escape is in the first moments of the attack.  In many cases the attacker will want to bring the victim from the initial contact location “crime scene #1” to second location “crime scene #2”.  If the attacker is able to get the victim to crime scene #2 the chances of survival diminish.


The major factor to consider is the classification of the rapist.

The major categories of rapists are:

  • Power-reassurance: This is what law enforcement calls the “gentleman rapist.” He has a complex fantasy of a consensual relationship with a woman.
  • Power-assertive: This is the individual who believes that he is entitled to do whatever he wants to women. They’re to be used for his gratification. His fantasies are minimal.
  • Anger-retaliatory: This person assaults because he’s motivated by anger and he’s getting even with women for real or imagined wrongs. He has almost no fantasy. He simply strikes.
  • Anger-excitation: The attacker is a sexual sadist. He’s punishing women because he believes them to be evil and powerful, so he’s trying to take away that power. He has deep and complex fantasies.
  • Opportunistic: The attacker is there to commit another crime like robbery or burglary. The victim is there and he simply seizes the opportunity. He’s frequently under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If he starts robbing and raping repeatedly, he gets classified into one of the major categories.
  • Gang rape: This involves three or more offenders and you always have a leader and  often a reluctant participant. These are extremely violent, and what you find is that they’re playing for each other’s approval. It gets into a pack mentality and can be horrendous.



The most dangerous is the Anger-excitation or sexual sadist.  This is also were most self-defense advise falls apart.  The sexual sadist is less concerned about the actual rape and more interested in the suffering of his victim.  If the victim fights back and is unable to escape this only fuels his enjoyment and his fantasy.  HE DOES NOT CARE if the defender wets or soils their pants or force themselves to throw up as many suggest doing.  If the victim fights his control he will very quickly escalate the violence to horrendous levels.

If the defender bites him or bends his fingers back to defend themselves this will not dissuade him but will fuel his aggression and give him more reason to PUNISH his victim. This is the type of criminal that will literally cut your fingers off for doing so. Think, Annie in the movie Misery  where she breaks his feet with a sledge-hammer for trying to escape.  Without a doubt in this case you are fighting for your life.

Sometimes it will be better to comply until escape is possible to avoid bodily injury.  But often psychologically waiting one second turns to many minutes and any opportunity or hope for escape will be lost.

As we have shown, in most cases any advise quickly disappears and leaves the defender at the mercy of a monster.  The true solution lies in skills.  Training allows the defender to gain skills that can be applied across situations and allows the defender to make quick decisions that apply to their very specific situation.  While it should not be thought that having skills will prevail in all situations it does give the defender a much better percentage of survival.

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