by Lady Hecate

When most people think of “a rapist’, they think of a man wearing black clothes in a ski mask. He’s hiding in an alley and waiting for some unsuspecting young, attractive woman to happen across his path so he can attack her by surprise with the weapon he has handy. This attack will likely involve a significant physical assault. They will not know each other. When he is done, he will run off into the night and she will be left blitzed and broken, in need of blaring sirens from police and an ambulance. The facts show this is almost never what actually happens.

In excess of 67% of rapes are perpetrated by those known to the victims. No ski mask. No dark alley. Often the physical assault is not severe, but society has some to belief that a lack of bruises is an indicator of a false accusation. Survivors of these rapes are shamed by the attacks themselves and again by the judgement that inevitably falls on them due to misconceptions.

This picture so many of us have in our heads can contribute to the reason so many survivors don’t think they will be believed in reporting their attacks. The reason so many people think no bruises is a sign of a false report. The reason people think ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the sage wisdom we offer especially women about what to do if they are attacked. Women are told to fight as hard as they can. Or to make as much noise as they can. The fact of the matter is that because each rapist is motivated by different things, by doing this to one attacker it may work and another it may get you killed. Roy Hazelwood, known for his pioneering work in profiling sexual predators, when asked what a person should do when they are being attacked simply states, “Whatever they feel they need to do to survive.”

Here I will outline the accepted typologies forensic psychologists have identified to help you differentiate between the types of rapists out there.


This is a person who would not rape under “normal” circumstances. Quite simply put, this is an individual who will take an opportunity if it is presented to them. For example:
• An unconscious person at a party
• A sleeping person in a home a burglar has just broken into
• A person without the mental capacity to consent

Power Reassurance

How to identify this type of sex offender

• Most common typology (approx. 80% of reported cases)
• Ritualistic assault
• Will often take souvenirs of the assault
• Little or no profanity
• Likes to fantasise that the victim is a willing participant
• Can demand participation from the victim
• Apologetic, polite & complimentary


• To reassure themselves of their masculinity
• To elevate their self-esteem

Modus Operandi

• Victims are pre-selected
• Victim often lives in convenient location
• Surprise attack is common
• Method of attack is always the same
• Can kiss victim
• Can perform oral sex on victim


• Low violence
• If a weapon is used, it will be one of opportunity. Possibly used only to gain compliance
• They do not INTEND to harm their victims

Power Assertive

How to identify this type of sex offender
• Sees himself as hyper-masculine
• Can attack multiple times in the same evening
• No concern for the victim
• Date rapes are often in this category


• Wants to overpower and dominate their victim
• To elevate their self-esteem
• Rapes when they feel they “need a woman”
• Feels taking what they wants is their right

Modus Operandi

• Prefers to groom or con their victims
• Will often meet victim the same night as the assault
• Will tear victim’s clothing


• Moderate levels of force
• If victim fights back, the attacker will increase his level of force
• Weapon is usually fists

Anger Retaliatory

How to identify this type of sex offender

• Misdirected anger (victim symbolises the target of the offender’s rage)
• Attack is short and emotional
• Obscene language is often used
• Assault is dependant on stressors in attackers life
• Will feel shame or guilt afterward

Modus Operandi

• Blitz attacks are common
• Resistance from the victim causes increased violence
• Overkill even if victim has lost consciousness or does not resist
• Attack is frenzied & impulsive
• Disorganised attacks


• To punish using sex as a weapon
• Victim symbolises the target of the offender’s rage


• High level of violence
• A weapon is usually present
• May not plan to kill, but the level of violence means attacks can be lethal

Sexual Sadist (Anger Excitation)

How to identify this type of sex offender

• Rarest typology
• Can be charming
• High degree of planning
• Carries “rape kits”
• Aggression increases with each attack
• Extreme change in behaviour once victim is under their control
• Ritualistic
• Compulsive


• Satisfaction from observing victim’s suffering
• Sexually aggressive fantasies
• Selects victims based on their fetishes or fantasies

Modus Operandi

• Physical and psychological torture
• Will wake victim up if they lose consciousness
• Tend to be organised and premeditated
• Can stalk a victim after the attack to relive the assault
• Approaches by con
• Can immobilise with restraints to gain better control of victim
• Will inflict pain to elicit fear and docility
• Voice will be cold and instructional
• Will tell victim in detail what they are going to do
• Will be degrading and humiliating
• Will often record the assault
• May torture for an extended period of time


• Extreme force and pain
• Can be intentionally lethal
• Knife is the preferred weapon

This may make you feel like there are monsters out there. But remember that these people are humans. They look like you or I. It’s up to us to identify them so we can protect each other from what they can do to us.


• Brownmiller, S. (1975). Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. New York: Ballantine Publishing Group.
• Chapter 20 – rape and sexual assault. (2012). Retrieved from
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• Cornell University Law School. (2012). 42 USC § 13031 – Child abuse reporting.
Retrieved November 2, 2012, from Legal Information Institute:
• Forensics talk- Profiling Rapists (2006). Retrieved on October 29, 2012.
• Hazelwood, R. R. (2006). Analyzing the rape and profiling the offender.
in R. R. Hazelwood, Practical aspects of rape investigation: A multidisciplinary
approach (pp. 96-103). New York: CRC Press.
• Melnick, M. (2011, December 15). Rape and violence: U.S. surveys find much higher
rates than thought. Time, Retrieved from
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• Model workplace policy. (2009). Retrieved October 30, 2012, from
Office on Violence Against Women – U.S. Department of Justice:
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October 24, 2012, from
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Retrieved on October 29, 2012.
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(2011, December 14). Retrieved from
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evidence analysis. (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Academic Press.
• Turvey, B.E., Criminal profiling – Fourth Edition (2012). Elsevier-Science Ltd.
• University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Types of Rapes (2012). Retrieved on October 28,

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