How Serial Rapists Choose Their Victims

Topics: Abuse, Crime, Violence Pages: 5 (664 words) Published: October 11, 2010
Serial Rapist Victims 1


How Serial Rapists Choose Their Victims

Michelle L. Freeze

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Sociology 4111, Section 2

Dr. Mark

September 22, 2010

Serial Rapist Victims 2

How Serial Rapists Choose Their Victims


Historically, the study of crime has largely focused on the actions of the repeat rapist as

to why rape occurs and how victims are chosen. Until recently the mindset of the victim was not

considered a serious factor in why crimes were committed. Today criminologists look carefully at

every aspect of the victim as well as the offender. My research proposal aims to determine what,

if anything, victims of serial rapists have in common. In turn, critical insight into the prevention of

serial rape could be obtained.


Why do certain women, in particular, fall prey to the horrible crime of serial rape, while other,

seemingly equally suitable targets, do not? In order to determine the characteristics of serial rape

victims, I propose gathering data from the perpetrators of these crimes. These repeat offenders know

best why they chose one woman over another, and present the best source of information available.

Theoretical Arguments

Victim Precipitation Theory holds that victims often initiate the consequence which leads to their death,

either by threatening or actively attacking when they perceive a criminal threat, or passively ignoring a

possible threat in hopes of avoiding confrontation (Siegel, pp. 68). It is possible the passive precipitation

route could embolden an serial rapist, so by acting nervous or frightened, a victim could unknowingly

bring on a criminal attack (Siegel, pp. 68).

Some of the most controversial theories on victimization are based on the victim’s choice of

lifestyle. Lifestyle Theory does not hold that crime is a random occurrence, but a direct consequence of

the victim’s life choices. By engaging in high-risk activities such frequent drinking or use of drugs, going

out late at night, or carrying a lethal weapon which could be used against them, innocent people often

become unwitting victims (Siegel, pp.69).

Test Methods

I propose interviewing a sample of serial rapists under the controlled conditions of their

incarceration (Stevens, pp.109). The sample would be large enough to draw a true bead on the

commonalities used by the offenders to select their victims, at least 50, but cohesive enough that the data

can be easily correlated by one researcher, so I would interview a maximum of 100 serial rapists. Each

offender would then be asked three sets of questions for assessment of these three variables:

Serial Rapist Victims 3


1) To what extent did you plan the offense?
2) Did you set out in search of a victim with a deliberate intent to commit assault? 3) Did the idea suddenly come to mind when an opportunity presented itself?

Victim Selection:

1) What was the description of the victim, i.e., age, race, sex, situation, physical looks? 2) What part did each descriptive term play in your selection of that victim? 3) Was their a relationship to the victim prior to the incident?

Style of Attack:

1) How did you gain control over the victim?
2) Did you use entrapment, threats, intimidation, violence or a combination of techniques? 3) Did you render your victim helpless through drugs or alcohol?


While this author believes Victim Precipitation Theory and Lifestyle Theory each have strong

points, it seems likely a combination of these theories comes closest to explaining which of us will be

among the Americans victimized by violent crime, specifically serial rape, in their lifetime. By...

References: Siegel. Criminology: The Core, 4th Edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning/CourseSmart, 02/26/2010.
Stevens, D.J. (2000), Inside the Mind of a Serial Rapist. NE: Authors Choice Press.
Word count: 654
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