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THE CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR OF THE SERIAL RAPIST                        
                                                                                                                                
From 1984 to 1986, FBI Special Agents assigned to the
National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC)
interviewed 41 men who were responsible for raping 837 victims.
Previous issues of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin provided an
introduction to this research (1) and the characteristics of the
rapists and their  victims. (2)  This article, however, describes
the behavior of these serial rapists during and following the
commission of their sexual assaults.  The information presented
is applicable only to the men interviewed; it is not intended to
be generalized to all men who rape.                              

PREMEDITATION                 
                                  
     The majority of the sexual attacks (55-61%) committed by
these men were premeditated across their first, middle, and last
rapes, while fewer rapists reported their crimes as being
impulsive (15-22%) or opportunistic (22-24%).  Although no
comparable data on serial rape are available, it is probable that
the premeditation involved in these crimes is particularly
characteristic of these serial rapists.  It is also probable that
this premeditation is reflective of their preferential interest
in this type of crime and largely accounts for their ability to
avoid detection.                                                 

METHODS OF APPROACH                                              

     There are three different styles of approach rapists
frequently use:  The ``con,'' the ``blitz,'' and the
``surprise.'' (3)  Each reflects a different means of selecting,
approaching and subduing a chosen victim.
                        
     The ``Con'' Approach
     Case Number 1                                                    

     John, a man who raped more than 20 women, told the
interviewers that he stopped one of his victims late at night and
identified himself as a plainclothes police officer.  He asked
for her driver's license and registration, walked back to his car
and sat there for a few moments.  He then returned to the victim,
advised her that her registration had expired and asked her to
accompany him to his car.  She did so, and upon entering the car,
he handcuffed her and drove to an isolated location where he
raped and sodomized the victim.                                  

     As in the above case account, the con approach involves
subterfuge and is predicated on the rapist's ability to interact
with women.  With this technique, the rapist openly approaches
the victim and requests or offers some type of assistance or
direction.  However, once the victim is within his control, the
offender may suddenly become more aggressive.       
            
     The con approach was used in 8 (24%) of the first rapes, 12
(35%) of the middle rapes, and 14 (41%) of the last rapes.
Various ploys used by the offenders included impersonating a
police officer, providing transportation for a hitchhiking
victim, and picking women up in singles bars.  Obviously, this
style of initiating contact with victims requires an ability to
interact with women.                                             

     The ``Blitz'' Approach                                           
     Case Number 2                                                    

     Phil, a 28-year-old male, approached a woman loading
groceries in her car, struck her in the face, threw her in the
vehicle and raped her.  On another occasion, he entered a women's
restroom in a hospital, struck his victim, and raped her in a
stall.  Exiting the restroom with the victim in his grasp, he
threatened her as though they were involved in a lover's quarrel,
and thus precluded interference from concerned onlookers who had
gathered when she screamed.                                      

     In a blitz approach, the rapist uses a direct, injurious
physical assault which subdues and physically injures the victim.
The attacker may also use chemicals or gases but most frequently
makes use of his ability to physically overpower a woman. 
Interestingly, despite its simplicity, this approach was used in
23% of the first rapes, 20% of the middle rapes, and 17% of the
last rapes. Even though it is used less often than the con
approach, the blitz approach results in more extensive physical
injury and inhibits certain fantasy components of the rape that
may be arousing to the rapist.                                   

     The ``Surprise'' Approach                                        
     Case Number 3                                                    

     Sam, a 24-year-old male, would preselect his victims through
``peeping tom'' activities.  He would then watch the victim's
residence to establish her patterns.  After deciding to rape the
woman, he would wait until she had gone to sleep, enter the home,
and place his hand over her mouth.  He would advise the victim
that he did not intend to harm her if she cooperated with the
assault. He raped more than 20 women before he was apprehended.  

     The surprise approach, which involves the assailant waiting
for the victim or approaching her after she is sleeping,
presupposes that the rapist has targeted or preselected his
victim through unobserved contact and knowledge of when the
victim would be alone.  Threats and/or the presence of a weapon
are often associated with this type of approach; however, there
is no actual injurious force applied.                            

     The surprise approach was used by the serial rapists in 19
(54%) of the first rapes, 16 (46%) of the middle rapes, and 16
(44%) of the last rapes (percentages vary due to the number of
rapes).  This represents the most frequently used means of
approach and is used most often by men who lack confidence in
their ability to subdue the victim through physical threats or
subterfuge.                                                      

CONTROLLING THE VICTIM                                           

     How rapists maintain control over a victim is dependent upon
two factors:  Their motivation for the sexual attack and/or the
passivity of the victim.  Within this context, four control
methods are frequently used in various combinations during a
rape: 1) Mere physical presence; 2) verbal threats; 3) display of
a weapon; and 4) the use of physical force. (4)
                     
     The men in this study predominantly used a threatening
physical presence (82-92%) and/or verbal threats (65-80%) to
control their victims.  Substantially less often they displayed a
weapon (44-49%) or physically assaulted the victim (27-32%). 
When a weapon was displayed, it was most often a sharp
instrument, such as a knife (27-42%).                            

     One rapist explained that he chose a knife because he
perceived it to be the most intimidating weapon to use against
women in view of their fear of disfigurement.  Firearms were used
less frequently (14-20%).  Surprisingly, all but a few of the
rapists used binding located at the scene of the rape. One
exception was an individual who brought pre-cut lengths of rope,
adhesive tape and handcuffs along with him.                      

THE USE OF FORCE                                                 

     The amount of force used during a rape provides valuable
insight into the motivations of the rapist and, hence, must be
analyzed by those investigating the offense or evaluating the
offender. (5)  The majority of these men (75-84%) used minimal or
no physical force across all three rapes. (6)  This degree of
minimal force is defined as non-injurious force employed more to
intimidate than to punish. (7)
                                      
     Case Number 4                                                    

     John began raping at 24 years of age and estimated that he
had illegally entered over 5,000 homes to steal female
undergarments.  On 18 of those occasions, he also raped.  He
advised that he had no desire to harm the victims.  He stated,
``Raping them is one thing.  Beating on them is entirely
something else. None of my victims were harmed and for a person
to kill somebody after raping them, it just makes me mad.''      

     Force resulting in bruises and lacerations or extensive
physical trauma requiring hospitalization or resulting in death
increased from 5% of the first rapes, 8% of the middle rapes, to
10% of the last rapes.  Two victims (5%) were murdered during the
middle rapes and an additional 2 (5%) were killed during the last
rapes.                                                           

     Case Number 5                                                    

     Phil, an attractive 30-year-old male, described stabbing his
mother to death when she awoke as he was attempting to remove her
undergarments in preparation for sexual intercourse.  He had been
drinking and smoking marihuana with her for a period of time
prior to the attempted sexual act, and after she fell asleep, he
began fantasizing about having sex with her.                     

     Most of the rapists in this study did not increase the
amount of force they used across their first, middle and last
rapes. (8)  However, 10 of the rapists, termed ``increasers,'' did
use progressively greater force over successive rapes and raped
twice as many women on the average (40 victims as opposed to 22
victims) in half the amount of time (i.e., raping every 19 days
as opposed to 55 days).  By the time of the last assault, they
were inflicting moderate to fatal injuries. These factors,
coupled with progressive interest in anal intercourse among the
increasers, suggest that for these individuals, sexual sadism may
be a motive for their assaultive behavior.                       

VICTIM RESISTANCE                                                

     Victim resistance may be defined as any action or inaction
on the part of the victim which precludes or delays the
offender's attack.  These behaviors may be described as passive,
verbal, or physical in nature. (9)
                                  
     The rapists reported that their victims verbally resisted
them in 53% of the first assaults, 54% of the middle attacks, and
43% of the last attacks.  Physical resistance occurred in only
19%, 32% and 28% of the first, middle, and last rapes
respectively.  The relatively low incidence of passive resistance
(i.e., 28% in the first rape, 17% of the middle  rape, and 9% of
the last rape) most likely reflects the rapists' inability to 
discern this type of resistance.                                 

     In previous research, it was found that there was no
relationship between both verbal and physical resistance and the
amount of injury sustained by the victim. (10)  Interestingly,
however, the degree of the rapists' pleasure and the duration of
the rape did increase when the victim resisted.
                  
     In this study, the offenders' most common reaction to
resistance for the first, middle and last rapes was to verbally
threaten the victim (50-41%).  Compromise or negotiation took
place in 11-12% across the rapes, and physical force was used in
22% of the first rapes, 38% of the second rapes and 18% of the
third rapes.  The rapists also reported 6 incidents in which they
left when the victim resisted; however, it is not clear at what
point in the attack the resistance occurred.                     

SEXUAL DYNAMICS OF THE RAPE                                      

     The sexual acts that the victim was forced to engage in
remained relatively constant across all three rapes.  The most
common acts were vaginal intercourse (54-67%), oral sex (29-44%),
kissing (8-13%) and fondling (10-18%). Anal intercourse (5-10%)
and foreign object penetration (3-8%) were reported less often.
In assessing changes in behavior over the first, middle and last
rapes, there appears to be a trend wherein the rapists' interest
in oral sex increases while his interest in vaginal contact
decreases.                                                       

     The amount of pleasure that the rapist experienced during
the three assaults was measured with the statement: ``Think back
to the penetration during the rape. Assuming `0' equals your
worst sexual experience and `10' your absolutely best sexual
experience, rate the amount of pleasure you experienced.''  The
majority of rapists reported surprisingly low levels of pleasure
(3.7). However, the type of contact that resulted in higher
scores differed widely. (11)  One rapist reported appreciation for
his victims' passivity and acquiescence, while another referred
to the pleasure experienced in the rape-murder of two young boys
as being ``off the scale.' 
                                     
     Case Number 6
                                                    
     Paul had raped adult women, adolescent and preadolescent
girls and brought his criminal career to an end with the rape and
murder of two 10-year-old boys.  When asked to rate the sexual
experiences, he advised that he would rate the adult and
adolescent females as ``0'' and the preadolescent girls as ``3.''
He then stated, "When you're talking about sex with 10-year-old
boys, your scale doesn't go high enough.''                       

VERBAL ACTIVITY                                                  

     Across the first, middle and last rapes, the majority of
serial rapists (78-85%) usually only conversed with the victims
to threaten them.  Much less frequently, their conversations were
polite or friendly (30-34%), manipulative (23-37%), or personal
(23-37%).  In a minority of instances throughout the assaults,
the rapist reported being inquisitive (15-20%), abusive/
degrading (5-13%), or silent (8-13%).  It appears that serial
rapists use verbal threats to subdue the victim, and only after
they believe they have gained control over the victim do they
move on to various other modes of conversing or interacting.     

SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION                                               

     In a study of 170 rapists, it was determined that 34%
experiencedsome type of sexual dysfunction during the rape. (12)  In
fact, it has been noted that ``the occurrence of offender sexual
dysfunction and an investigatory understanding of the dysfunction
may provide valuable information about the unidentified
rapist.'' (13)
                                                      
     The data on these serial rapists are strikingly similar. In
the first rape, 38% of the subjects reported a sexual
dysfunction, 39% in the middle rape, and 35% during the last
assault.  This type of information can prove helpful to the
investigator in associating different offenses with a single
offender, because the nature of the dysfunction and the means the
offender uses to overcome it are likely to remain constant over a
number of rapes.                                                 

EVADING DETECTION                                                

     Considering the rapists' aptitude for avoiding detection, it
is surprising to note that very few of the serial rapists
employed specific behaviors designed to preclude identification.
In fact, offenders tend to rape their victims in the victim's own
home, thereby contributing to their ability to avoid detection. (14)
 
     In addition, the majority of rapists (61-68%) did not report
dressing in any special way for the offenses.  Surprisingly,
disguises were reported in only 7-12% of the offenses, suggesting
that other means of evading detection were used by these
particular offenders.                                            

ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS                                          

     Alcohol is commonly associated with rape, but other drugs,
to a lesser degree, are also used at the time of the rape. (15)  The
data on these rapists suggest a somewhat different relationship
between alcohol/drugs and serial rape.  Approximately one-third
of the rapists were drinking alcoholic beverages at the time of
the first, middle and last offenses, and 17-24% of the
respondents reported using drugs.  In a majority of these cases,
these figures reflect the offender's typical consumption pattern
and not an unusual increase in substance abuse.               
  
POST-OFFENSE BEHAVIOR                                            

    The serial rapists were also asked about changes in their
behavior following their assaults.  The most frequent changes 
after each of the crimes included feeling remorseful and guilty
(44-51%), following the case in the media (28%) and an increase
in alcohol/drug consumption (20-27%).  Investigators should also
particularly note that 12-15% of rapists reported revisiting the
crime scene and 8-13% communicated with the victim after the
crime.                                                           

CONCLUSION                                                       

     The research concerning serial rapists' behavior during and
following the commission of the crimes has determined that:      

     *  The majority of the rapes were premeditated                 

     *  The ``con'' approach was used most often in initiating
contact with the victim                                          

     *  A threatening presence and verbal threats were used to
maintain control over the victim                                 

     *  Minimal or no force was used in the majority of instances   

     *  The victims physically, passively or verbally resisted the
rapists in slightly over 50% of the offenses                     

     *  The most common offender reaction to resistance was to
verbally threaten the victim                                     

     *  Slightly over one-third of the offenders experienced a
sexual dysfunction, and the preferred sexual acts were vaginal
rape and forced fellatio                                         

     *  Low levels of pleasure were reported by the rapists from the
sexual acts                                                      

     *  The rapists tended not to be concerned with precautionary
measures to protect their identities                             

     *  Approximately one-third of the rapists had consumed   
alcohol prior to the crime and slightly less reported using
some other drug.


     The most common post-offense behavior reported by the reapists
were feelings of remorse and guilt, following the case in the media
and an increase in alcohol and drug consumption.

     These characteristics, although not generally applicable to
every rapist, can be helpful in learning more about offenders, their
behaviors and the heinnous crime of rape.

PROFILE OF A RAPISTUsing methods not unlike those employed by FBI profilers to predict the behavior of serial killers, police and forensic psychologists have identified four profiles of rapists defined by motive, style of attack and psychosexual characteristics.

They are:

The power-assertive rapist

The anger-retaliation rapist

The power-reassurance rapist

The anger-excitation rapist

Such rapist behaviour profiles provide information that may be helpful in determining how best to respond to a specific kind of attacker.

These are the characteristics of each of the four rapist profiles:

Power-assertive rapist: Athletic, has a "macho" image of himself. More often than not, this is the type who commits date rapes. He typically meets his victim in a bar or nightclub. Instead of targeting a specific victim, he looks for an opportunity to get a woman alone with him, perhaps with an offer of a ride home or an invitation back to his place. Or he may con his victim into trusting him or letting him into her home, perhaps by posing as a policeman or repairman. Approximately 44 percent of rapes are committed by power-assertive rapists. He is physically aggressive, and will use the amount of force needed to control you -- degrading or obscene language, [brandishing] a weapon, slapping or punching -- but he does not intend to kill you.

Generally, begging and crying doesn't work with this guy. If you're going to resist, you've got to be serious. You've got to scream and fight him as hard as you can to get away.

Anger-retaliatory rapist: He feels animosity towards women and wants to punish and degrade them. Often he is a substance abuser. He is impulsive and has an explosive temper. He looks for an opportunity to commit the rape rather than for a specific victim. He attacks spontaneously and brutalizes the woman into submission. Thirty percent of rapists fall into the anger-retaliation category. He will grab you from behind and drag you into the bushes. He will often beat you to near-unconsciousness before committing the rape. Any level of resistance may well enrage him and cause him to beat the hell out of you until he gets what he wants. He's not looking to kill you, but the beating could be fatal. You do not want to challenge or enrage this type of rapist. You could try to escape. If you cannot get away or incapacitate the assailant, it's best to submit and try to limit the level of violence of the assault to the extent that you can.

Power-reassurance rapist: He lacks the self-confidence and interpersonal skills to develop relationships with women. He is passive and nonathletic. He lives or works near his victim, and "preselects" her by peeping or stalking. He typically breaks into her home in the early hours of the morning and awakens her. He uses minimal force and will threaten her with a weapon, but usually does not have one. He fantasizes that he is his victim's lover so he may ask her to disrobe or to wear a negligee and he will kiss her and engage in foreplay. The power-reassurance type accounts for 21 percent of rapists. He is the least violent type of rapist, and does not intend to hurt or kill you, Among the different types of rapists, he is most likely to be dissuaded if you scream, cry, plead or fight." In general it is more probable that you can discourage a rapist who uses this [power reassurance] approach. But you could instead be dealing with a power assertive rapist who is starting off with a softer approach. Try nonviolent tactics, crying, pleading, praying aloud while you're sizing up the assailant. If it works you may be able to escape the situation. But if he responds by becoming verbally abusive or degrading, he is likely a power assertive rapist and you will have to evaluate whether you are capable of fighting him off.

"Women need to rely on their instincts. When confronted with a rapist they will try various techniques. In this situation, take full advantage of your instincts in trying to figure out which type of rapist you are dealing with".

Anger-excitation rapist: A sadist, who derives sexual gratification from inflicting pain. He is typically charming and intelligent. The crime is premeditated and rehearsed methodically in his mind before it is attempted. His victims may or may not be strangers. He will tie, gag and blindfold them and torture them over a period of days, even recording his crimes in a diary, taking photographs or videotaping them. Just five percent of rapists fit this description.

Of the four types he is the most criminally sophisticated and it's difficult to catch him. He's got absolute control over you so there's no question of any type of resistance or of escaping. Oftentimes he kills his victims, either to get rid of a witness or to gratify a psychosexual need." This is probably the most dangerous situation a woman can be in. If you're tied up, you're going to have to match wits with this guy and trick him or talk him into untying you so you have at least some chance of escape.

Most rapists are not murderers. It is less likely that a woman - even one who has taken a women's self-defense course -- can overcome the intensity of the violence that an anger rapist will inflict. But power rapists commit nearly two-thirds of all rapes, and you have a fighting chance to fend them off. If you assess the situation and feel confident of your ability to fight or talk your way out of [being raped], go ahead and do it.

There are women who have yelled or fought back, whether they've taken self-defense classes or not, and have not gotten raped. To tell a woman 'don't do anything, be the passive female' is absolute (nonsense)."

Given that the goal of all women who are in imminent danger of being raped is to avoid it, they should rely on their instincts rather than assume that they have to submit. But whatever her instincts tell her to do, If a woman survives, she made the right choice.

Profile of a rapist or a stalker, or an abuser

In attempting to warn women against the danger, many rape crisis centers proclaim "all men are potential rapists."

What a horrible way to live.

Who wants to go through life in fear of one half of the human race? Much less believe that about those we love and are intimate with.

The idea behind any learning should be to improve the quality of life, not degrade it. To this end, let’s leave the wild paranoia of ‘possible’ rape scenarios and move onto the more solid footing of ‘probable’ and 'very likely.' That you can do something about.

Someone rightly said, "Dishonest people are seldom dishonest in only one aspect of their lives." In the same vein, the predilections that can, and do, lead to rape and violence are not isolated. They tend to permeate a person's character and be regularly displayed in many small ways -- and in other areas. These attitudes, behaviors and words are consistent among rapists and those who attack others.

IF you are willing to look, they are easy to spot.

The reason it is impossible to predict who will and won't sexually assault someone is because how these behaviors manifest is a matter of style and preference(1). One person might choose to be blatant and habitually physically attack others, while another might be more subtle and rely on drugs and alcohol to render his victims helpless. The motives are the same, but the style is utterly different. And that is why it is hard to predict who will and won't commit sexual assault or physical violence. A person who will physically assault one person will not engage in violence with different person. The same goes for circumstances, he will attack in one set of circumstances, but not another.

What we can accurately predict is something bad will arise out of these character traits. However exact details of the 'When, Where and How' are impossible to predetermine.

If you see these behaviors in a person, take care. The more you see, the more care should be taken not to be alone him. Even if he doesn’t rape, these behaviors indicate serious character flaws.

Danger signs

1) Insensitivity for others/emphasis on self - Does this person put his wants above the needs, feelings or well being of others? Is getting his way more important to him than other people's welfare? Often this can go beyond mere selfishness and border nearly on an "assumed divine right." Often these people will justify a particularly vicious action with a flip comment like, "Hey, that's how the game is played." Such a person has no understanding that he must co-exist with others. Because he simply exists he thinks the world "owes" him whatever he wants. A common tactic of such a person it to make you feel bad for not doing what he wants.

2) Belittling behavior or attitudes towards others - Does this person habitually make nasty, belittling or degrading comments about others – especially under the guise of joking? Does this person think he is better than others? Does he look down on others? A nouveau riche aristocrat? Is he a racist? A person who thinks that race or social position makes him superior can also assume gender does too. When you think you are superior, an assumed right to ‘take’ what you want often follows.

3) Negating behavior or comments - Closely related to 1 and 2. Does he try to tell you what you are feeling or thinking? Or worse, tell you what you are not? Comments like "you don’t really mean that" are serious indicators of someone trying to negate you. A person who negates others is trying to take away the other person’s thoughts, feelings and needs and attempting to project his wants onto that person. The most obvious example of this is "Well even though she said ‘no’, she really meant ‘yes’".

4) Hostile and/or threatening language - What words does a person use? Choice of words convey subconscious assumptions about a particular topic. For example a man who generically refers to women as "bitches" does not have good assumptions about females (or much respect). It is all too easy to dismiss this behavior as just "blowing off steam." But if it is a constant behavior, it goes far beyond that. Someone who habitually uses violent or threatening language should be carefully watched for possible escalation. It’s on his mind already. It’s a uncomfortably short step from ‘thinking about’ to ‘doing’.

5) Bullying - This behavior is especially dangerous. Does this person use overt or subtle threats to get his way? A bully uses the threat of violence more than actual violence. Most often bullies are not willing to risk conflict with someone who can hurt them (an alpha male), and will instead chose to intimidate someone he considers weaker and safer. Someone who is bullying over other matters can easily turn to bullying you regarding sex.

6) Excessive anger - How easy does this person anger? Is he a "Short Fuse"? Does he boil over at the slightest problem? This is an indication of chronic anger. A person who explodes over a minor issue is like a full pot boiling over on the stove. It’s not that the issue is all that important, but that he has so much anger already, any more causes him to explode. Often people with chronic anger look for targets to vent their anger at. This could manifest as physical fights, abuse, or rape.

7) Brooding/ revenge - Does this person hang onto his anger long after the situation is over? Will he still be stewing over something while everyone else has moved onto other things? Will he become anti-social and glare at the source of his anger from across the room? Will he insist on taking revenge for real or imagined slights? Both indicate a petty and obsessive personality. A brooder fixates on something and then works himself into a frenzy over it. A person who seeks revenge "has to win" and is willing to take it to extremes. Refusing such a person’s sexual advances can turn this tendency towards you.

8) Obsession – This is a close cousin to number seven. It is a major factor with acquaintance rapes. This is the person who won’t leave you alone. He insists on ‘hitting on you’ long after you have told him no. He is always trying establish forced intimacy (see ‘bonding process’ below). Such obsessions easily turn into anger when his advances are rejected. One day he shows up in a fringe area, drunk and attacks.

9) Extreme mood swings - Beware someone who can go from wildly happy to deeply wounded at a moment's notice. This sort of personality can feel justified to commit an unlimited amount of violence and damage, because you "hurt his feelings." This is a common pattern among those with chronic anger about life.

10) Physical tantrums - How does this person get angry? Especially when denied "getting his way". Beware of a person who regularly physically assaults his environment i.e. hitting walls, kicking things etc. It is only a short step from striking a car to attacking you.

11) Jock or gorilla mentality - This mentality promotes both acceptance and encouragement for the use of violence. It is especially common among participants of contact sports. What is most insidious about this mentality is the "jock" receives, not only positive reinforcement, but out-and-out applause for being aggressive and violent. This can easily lead to a failure to differentiate between the playing field and real life. Mike Tyson’s comment is a prime example: "Nobody ever objected before."

12) A mean drunk - Nearly all rape and abuse cases involve alcohol. Watch what surfaces when someone is intoxicated. It shows what is always lurking underneath. Do not put yourself into a situation where you would deal with such a person while he is intoxicated. Most importantly, don't allow your facilities to be diminished by alcohol or drugs in this person's presence.

13) Alcohol or drug abuse - To begin with drug and alcohol addiction can in be traced back to selfishness and a refusal to change one’s world view. Alcohol and drugs are not the cause of bad behavior, rather they are used as an excuse! Often the attacker intentionally became intoxicated to ignore the social restrictions and inhibitions regarding violence.

While there are others, these behaviors are serious indicators of a potential rapist. This short list should acquaint you with the basics. Not all men are rapists, but a person like this has a higher probability than others. You not only find these traits among rapists and abusers, but also professionalcriminals. Philosophically there is little difference between such, they are all selfish. Most often it is just a matter of degrees, style and choice of victims.

So slick he could slide up hill
One Saturday morning our college-aged daughter, who had come back for a visit, mentioned she was dating someone who had been convicted of sexual assault. Marc tried to mask his immediate reaction by taking a sip of coffee. What nearly caused a caffinated spraying of the room was her follow up comment "But it's okay, he explained to me what happened and it wasn't his fault."

Of course it wasn't his fault...and while we're at it, let's free everybody in prison because they are innocent - and they will tell you that too.

When we mentioned the possibility that he probably lied about, or at the very least spindoctored, his version of events she proudly told us that "she had checked it out" -- by asking his best friend. She then proceeded to tell us a long litany of behavior that was bordering on stalking. We told her to drop him faster than an annoyed scorpion.

What was most disturbing was her outrage at our reaction. Why were we getting so upset, she knew 'what she was doing' and 'she could take care of herself.' This kind of gullibility born of both willful ignorance and arrogance is what leads people into danger. And she had a double-dose of both.

Fortunately, she broke it off with him shortly after returning to school, so nothing bad ever occurred. She was able to "flitterygibbit" off to other things convinced that mom and dad were once again over-reacting and being paranoid. She is, unfortunately, our risk taker. She insists on regularly putting herself into situations like that.

We mention this story because there is an old saying: You can't cheat an honest man. If you don't have much experience with the underbelly of life, that comment doesn't seem to make sense. But it is very true. That is because most swindles rely on the mark's greed. It is the person who is avaricely trying to get a ludicrously low price or an unrealistic high return who is going to get hustled. Whereas an honest person knows this isn't right. You don't get those kind of prices and returns in legitimate business. If someone is offering them, then something is wrong. And yet because of greed, the mark proceeds with the deal.

In the same vein, a smooth talking individual can only convince you of something if you want to believe what he is saying. And the more you want to believe the less convincing he will have to do. But without this willingness to ignore common sense on your part, even the smoothest con-artist has no power and no chance to harm you.

The reason for this side trip into the nature of con artists is to acquaint you with the fact that many rapists will attempt to mask, justify, make light of, or explain away the dangerous behaviors that we have mentioned. How they will do this is totally unpredictable at this time -- as it depends on the individual and his opinion and assessment of you. Know right now however, that he will tailor his response to what he thinks will work best with you. So it is going to sound real convincing when it comes your way.

Having said that however, there are several common tactics. The first is to make light of it. To claim that he was just joking about a verbal attack. To "blow off" a significant event with a flip or short comment as though it didn't matter.

Another common dodge is to minimize others by focusing on him. He was justified in doing what he did because his emotions were hurt or because the other person did something to him first.

Bullying is often common. The subject is closed because it angers or upsets him.

Or they will have a long and elaborate story how it really wasn't their fault. These stories however, while tending to have great depths in some areas are prone to be as shallow as a puddle in a parking lot when it comes to their involvement. Not about what they did or what they were feeling - those are in depth areas - but rather why they chose a course of action that they knew was wrong. That will be quickly glazed over. Unfortunately this subject has massive influence on everything else they are telling you. But if they can baffle you with BS about other details, you won't notice that this issue is prominently lacking in their story.

It is not uncommon for them to try to turn it around onto you. Your reaction to their action is wrong : That is what they will try to convince you. You are being narrow-minded and mean spirited. Don't you know it was just a joke? How can you be so unforgiving to hold him accountable for something that wasn't his fault. Or a very common one, how can you be so unreasonable, look how reasonable about this he is trying to be.

No matter what tactic someone takes there is always a core fortification of "me" that is involved in his arguments. It is hard to describe, but once you have learned how to recognize it, it is always there. This fortification is never touched. It is always talked around or quickly skipped over. And that area that is never addressed is accepting personal responsibility for one's actions.

Another issue that is never mentioned is their responsibility to interact with others on an equal basis. It is always how other people are affecting them. Or how much they have done and how hard they have tried to make things work. There is no recognition that their words or actions might have affected someone just as, if not deeper than they themselves were effected.

If you can remove your emotional involvement from the equation, you will clearly see how people attempt to hide these behaviors . But before you can remove your emotional investment you must critically review your motives. What are you getting out of the situation? What do you expect to get out of the situation? What are you afraid of losing if you were to allow yourself to see this behavior and recognize its significance?

With out daughter, it was that this man was from a well to do family and spent money on her. He would take her out, buy her entertainment, dinner, drinks and gifts. Which for a 'broke' college student is very appealing. Because she was benefiting from the association, she chose to ignore the danger signals and accept a shallow and biased explanation of past events. It wasn't until his obsessive behavior became annoying to her that she decided that the profit wasn't worth the pain. 

That which is hateful
The great rabbinical scholar Hillel is supposed to have been woken up in the middle of the night by a skeptic. The skeptic demanded Hillel explain the whole of the Torah in ten words or less. He replied "What is hateful unto you, do not do unto others -- the rest is commentary" and then Hillel rolled over and went back to sleep.

Rapists tend to be very selfish people. While there is a chance of a rape occurring because an otherwise "nice guy" makes a bad and selfish decision, this is an exception rather than the rule. Usually people who rape others have long shown a consistent pattern of attitude and behavior. The sexual assault is another, albeit more extreme, manifestation of this kind of mindset.

This however brings up an interesting point. Bad behavior tends to be tolerated only by people who are expecting you to tolerate theirs.

If you are engaged in selfish behavior, you will eventually find yourself surrounded only by other selfish people. This shift is gradual and oft times not noticed by the individual. Once you start down this road, it becomes a matter of degrees - who is more selfish. And when that happens it is not a question of "if" bad things will happen but rather "when?"

If you see these warning signs we have talked about her, do not choose to ignore them. Do not minimize them. Do not assume that you can control the situation. That is an assumption of omnipotence. You cannot control other human being and the assumption you can is pure arrogance.

The best thing you can do is to get these kind of individuals out of your life. If you look around and recognize this behavior in ALL of your friends, then it is time to sit down and do a critical reassessment of your own behavior. 

In conclusion
These danger signals are real as are the tactics we have discussed. Care should be taken when dealing with someone who exhibits them. Do not put yourself in a situation where such a person could successfully use violence. Literally, do not go off alone with such a person – especially if alcohol or drugs are involved.

Incidentally, many of these behaviors are shared with those who turn into abusive husbands and boyfriends. These are the seeds of that kind of behavior, but it won’t be until you are involved that abuse will manifest. This is another reason to avoid becoming involved with a person who displays these early signs.

To a greater or lesser degree, you can see these danger signals in many people you know. Do not ignore, rationalize or excuse these behaviors, especially if you see a significant number of them. Don’t make the mistake, as great many young women do, that because such a person hasn’t attacked you, he won’t.

A shark is a shark whether he is peacefully swimming or attacking. Just because you haven't been attacked, doesn't mean he can't or won't. You either haven’t had anything he wants or you haven’t been in a situation with him where he could successfully act.



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