Profiles and Strategies:
The Power Reassurance Profile
The surprise approach is sometimes associated with the Power Reassurance rapist, who may be recognized through his verbal exchange with the victim during the assault. A propensity to pre-select the victim suggests that this offender may have fantasized about the encounter beforehand. In keeping with the compensatory aspect of this type of offender, there is often a history of perversions and sexual preoccupation. Efforts to have
the victim say that she ‘wanted it’ are characteristic or he may ask for her to profess her love for him. In this way the rapist lives out his fantasy that his targeted victim desires him and he may even request to see the victim again (Ressler 1988:202). The victim, to clearly impart to him that she is not interested or as vulnerable as he perceives, could meet this approach with strong resistance. He is the least likely to resort to violence and may flee if physical or loud verbal resistance is used. These attackers often have a script that they mentally and obsessively play out where the victim is either paralyzed with fear or she succumbs sexually to the rapist. Smith (:49) suggests that if a woman is unable to resist due to situational factors such as the presence of a weapon, no escape route or being attacked at home while asleep, she might be able to play into the script, eliciting the fantasy wherein which he perceives himself to be in control. Once he has been assured of her compliance, the woman could conceivably utilize the element of surprise to redirect the dynamics of the attack.
The Power Assertive Profile
Ressler (1988:206) notes that a victim who appears undaunted, or engages the offender in conversation may take Power Assertive or exploitative rapists aback. It may not avoid the rape, but may decrease the amount of injury and allow the victim to assess options. If the assailant remains after verbal confrontation by the victim and responds with threats, it may not be advisable to engage in physical confrontation at that time. If he responds with increased violence, the victim is advised to cease physical resistance and attempt verbal dissuasive techniques. The object, with the exploitative rapist is to
break the confrontation and reduce violence, as this type of offender often responds to verbal strategies. However, if the attacker escalates in violence or the situation appears to be lethal the victim should fight with every means available to escape.
The Anger Retaliation Profile
The Anger Retaliation or displaced-anger rapist has a primary motive to hurt or injure the victim. Unless she is certain she can incapacitate him, the victim is better served to engage the offender in carefully constructed discussion regarding the fact that she is not the person who has upset him, and to challenge this perception in any was possible. References to wives, sisters, daughters or any close female relationships may only justify the assault, if that is who has enraged him.
Neither acquiescence nor physical responses are recommended here. Nonconfrontative responses such as gagging, crying or nausea are only evidence to him that he is achieving the desired result (1988:207).
The Anger Excitation Profile
Offenders who prefer the con approach strive to separate the victim from a known environment, thus strategies for rape avoidance may be limited to waiting for an opportune moment to either disable the rapist physically or escape. The con or ruse is one that is completely premeditated and therefore difficult to guard against as social mores dictate that women be polite and helpful, particularly to those in apparent need. These perpetrators are usually the sadistic type and carefully construct their approach down to the last detail, although the victim is often selected randomly by virtue of availability rather than specifically targeted. Due to the level of planning and efforts to secure an isolated location where the rapist can act out his brutal fantasy, escape may well be a matter of life and death.
Ressler offers these points if escape is not immediately possible; once the fused sexual-aggressive components are activated, the sadist will not indulge the victim’s attempts at negotiation, empathy or dissuasion. Passivity, submission and physical resistance are all likely to result in his increased aggression. With this extremely dangerous individual, there are virtually no reliable effective responses. Those who have successfully escaped have resorted to extreme measures. Some have acquiesced to await a critical moment to deploy vicious attacks on the offender’s vulnerable areas. It is paramount that the victim converts her fear into rage, and her sense of panic into a battle for survival (1988:208). Fortunately, these types of offenders are infrequently encountered.
Ressler’s research also revealed the following recommendations as a decision-making process: “the first response should always be an attempt to escape. If that is not possible, the second response is firm verbal confrontation. If the attacker persists, and there is no weapon, and no physical violence is occurring, the victim should immediately initiate the third response; offensive physical confrontation”(1988:208). If he doesn’t flee and responds with physical aggression, the victim should start trying to talk to challenge the rapist’s symbolic link to the victim. If he persists, the victim should verbally divert the attacker by asking him questions about himself. If he escalates in aggression, the victim should determine if he is a displaced-anger or sadistic rapist, and if the later, the victim must do whatever is necessary to survive.
To summarize, knowledge may be the only weapon a victim has, which can provide the confidence to act rather than resign out of helplessness (:208-211).
We can learn much from the analysis of sexual assault as a cultural phenomenon. From a sociological perspective, the presence of rape in our culture is an indication of how widely held are traditional views of appropriate male and female behavior, and of how strongly enforced these views are. Rape exists in society as a result of the socialization of men who are encouraged to subscribe to values of control and dominance (Macionis, 1998:51-52).
The profiles of the four categories of rapists and some of the recommended strategies to avoid rape are necessary to understand that depending on a single tactic is clearly not sufficient, as we strive to alleviate, if not eradicate the concept of rape.
For self-defense instructors and martial artists specializing in women’s safety, it is of paramount importance to comprehend the complexities of sexual assault and the psychology of those who commit rape in order to effectively arm women with the necessary tools to counter attacks.
Herman (1998:52) succinctly and effectively summarizes these points, “To end rape, people must be able to envision a relationship between the sexes that involves sharing, warmth, and equality, and to bring about a social system in which those values are fostered”. Perhaps the next millennium will bring about advancements in our worldview to discourage the aspects of male dominance and female victimization.
Macionis, John J. and Benokraitis, NijoleV. 1998 Seeing OurselvesFourth Edition New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Ressler, Robert 1988 Sexual Homicide Patterns andMotives
New York: LexingtonBooks
Smith, Susan E. 1986 Fearor Freedom, A Woman’s Options in Social Survival and Physical DefenseRacine: Mother Courage Press