Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How date and acquaintence rapists select, target, and violate victims

The steps typical of the pattern are detailed, Cook said, in the article “Date/ Acquaintance Rape: The Crime and Criminal Profile,” by Central Michigan University associate professor Stephen M. Thompson.

1. The man selects someone who is flattered by his attention.
“And that is one of the reasons why freshmen on campus are at such high risk,” Cook said. “They’re vulnerable. They’re targeted because they’re going to be really flattered when an upperclassman invites them to this huge party.”

Usually the woman is a friend, co-worker or friend of a friend, Thompson says.

“It’s important because he is picking someone who he’ll have contact with again,” Cook said. “And probably they’ll have mutual friends and they’ll see each other again, so after he rapes her, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on her not to report it, because it would create huge upheaval in her social life.”

2. Then comes the grooming.

“This is where he’s going to really just break any kind of distrust or boundaries down by being this nice, great guy and creating a situation where she feels like she can trust him,” Cook said. “Control is important, so he might push alcohol at this point.”

If the woman returns his affection, and “if she consents in this situation then that’s great and he’s going to consider that a score,” Cook said. “But if she doesn’t consent, he’s going to go ahead and do it anyway. He believes that sex is his right.”

3. He gets her alone. About 54 percent of the time, this happens at the man’s home, Cook said. “She’ll go because he’s groomed her ... she feels like she knows him.”

4. He sends a message, using just enough aggression to intimidate the woman into not fighting back.

“He sends the message that, ‘Don’t try to resist, you’re not getting out of here until I get what I want.’ ” Cook explains. “And this is where we hear victims say time and time again, ‘I knew I was in a lot of trouble.’ And so natural reaction is to freeze up in fear, to just pray to God to just get through it. This person is capable of this, I don’t know what else they are capable of.”
The last their friends saw, the man and woman had willingly left together. “So they think, of course, it was consensual, of course she wanted to have sex,” Cook said. “But the only person who sees the intimidating, violent, forceful side of the rapist is his victim and to everyone else he’s still that great, nice guy that she left with.”

 5. Placing blame.

At every step, including the last, Cook says the “nice guy” image is believable. Even the “nice guy” himself often believes what happened was OK. “So he might walk her home or kiss her goodnight, call her the next day,” Cook said. “And plant those seeds of doubt that maybe what happened wasn’t rape.”

Cook says it’s common for the woman to think, “I didn’t physically resist, I didn’t scream ‘no,’ so maybe it was mixed signals.” “That’s completely intentional on his part,” she said.

Women who report being raped by a date or acquaintance often tell similar stories about the events that led to the rape, says Corey Cook, of the Centre County Women's Resource Center.

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