What motivates males who commit sexual assault on campus?
The shocking statistic that about one in five women will be the victim of sexual assault while in college is made even more so by the fact that most of those women will know their assailants. No one-size-fits-all approach to rape prevention will be effective, as some offenders are driven by hostility toward women, while others may objectify women and view forceful intercourse as part of expected male dominant behavior. These different motivations and views on rape, and how they can be used to deliver rape prevention measures and successful intervention strategies are explored in an article in Violence and Gender.
In the article "Denying Rape but Endorsing Forceful Intercourse: Exploring Differences Among Responders," Sara Edwards, PhD, and Kathryn Bradshaw, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, and Verlin Hinsz, PhD, North Dakota State University, Fargo, separated male participants into three groups based on how they scored on measurements of hypermasculinity, hostility toward women, and callous sexual attitudes. The authors reported associations between these groupings and whether the men denied any intention to rape or use force to obtain intercourse, self-reported intentions to rape, or indicated a distinction between sexually coercive behavior and rape and expressed intentions to use of force to obtain intercourse but denied rape.
"These authors describe the numbers as staggering, and we know it is one of the most concerning crimes in the country today," says Violence and Gender Editor-in-Chief Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, Forensic Behavioral Consultant and Senior FBI Profiler/Criminal Investigative Analyst (ret.). "Sexual assault on college campuses is the pink elephant in the room. It is a crime that is underreported and misunderstood. In this article, researchers look at how callous sexual attitudes of some males who do not have feelings of hostility toward women can still engage in forced intercourse with a victim, and consider their behavior as an achievement rather than rape. The implications for these findings are extremely significant for education programs about sexual aggression and rape prevention and the development of a more accurate identification of subtypes of offenders based on their motivation, cognition, and personality traits."