Psyche of a Rapist

“According to the US Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, there is an average of 207,754 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. In other words, in every two minutes, someone in the US is sexually assaulted. Europe fares no better with Sweden topping the list. So much for the tempting theory of liberalism as an antidote for suppressed sexual wrath and perverted manifestations.

This then exposes us to inevitable questions. Do rapists have their own mindsets? Is there a genetic compulsion? Quite like serial killers, do they have personality disorders? Unavoidable issues, when one gets confronted by the reality of their sickness time and time again, coast to coast.”

(Shuvendu Sen, “The rapist’s mind – a deeper probe”, The Times of India, 24th December 2012)


“It is never about the sex. It’s all about power and control. It didn’t matter whether she was two or 13 or 50 years old. It didn’t matter that he was a teacher, her father or a complete stranger. It does matter, however, that in every single case – rape won. Dr Lavina Ahuja, a Counselling Psychologist at LifeWorks Counselling and Development in Dubai, says some rapists see rape as justified revenge or their right as men to control women. “A few other rapists blame the victims,” Dr Ahuja said. “The rapists consider themselves as justified as they believe the victim was ‘asking for it’ or that the victim actually enjoyed it.” The victim never asks for it. The rapist just believes she does. That, of course is a “rape myth”.  

Let’s break another myth – there is no such thing as a typical rapist. He could be the person you are about to marry, the one sitting next to you in class or at a cinema theatre. He could be the waiter serving you at a restaurant or the man quietly mopping the floor in your workplace corridor. He could even be your favourite uncle or your husband. It could be any, or all, or none of the above. One thing that is a common thread in all such cases is the rapists’ point of view. “Almost all rapists view the rape victim as a sex object. They often attack women who they perceive to be weak or someone who cannot defend herself,” said Dr Muhammad S. Tahir, Medical Director Health- Call DHCC and Consulting Psychiatrist, American Centre for Psychiatry, in Dubai.

According to RAINN, sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes. As per a statistical average of the past five years, in out of a 100 cases of rapes/sexual assaults in the US, only 46 got reported, with only 12 leading to an arrest. Out of those who got arrested, nine were prosecuted while fewer still earned a felony conviction.

In simpler terms, 97% of the rapists will never spend a day in jail.

So what is it that makes a monster out of a man? Experts narrow it down to four criteria – History. Isolation. Anger. Impulse.

“For the power-assertive rapist or the anger-retaliation rapist, being angry at a woman or being insulted (or perceiving an insult) by a woman would be a significant trigger. In that instance, rape would occur, not necessarily as a sexual act, but as a tool for asserting power and to humiliate,” Dr Ahuja said.

An abuser’s history is also a key criteria. If a man has faced abuse as a child, there is a greater tendency for him to force others to experience the same.

In such cases, “the abused becomes the abuser”.

“It may also stem from an inability to form sexually satisfying relationships and poor interpersonal skills. This type of a rapist may rape to fulfil a fantasy of a proper relationship with the victim,” Dr Ahuja said.

Another important factor to take into account is the mental health of the perpetrator.

“Rapists usually have a lot of social issues, resulting in unresolved anger and hatred. Substance abuse or drug addiction increases the tendency for such people to indulge in rape, too,” Dr Tahir said.

Experts strongly advise people to identify but not isolate the abuser. To make the man out of the monster.

“It is important to help such people as they are not normal. Loneliness combined with a sexually deviant nature can lead to a vicious cycle. Fight rape but don’t isolate the rapist.”

(Nasheet Jaffer Khan, “Special Report: Decoding the mind of a rapist”,, 28th December 2012)


In analyzing the victimization of rape I have often wondered – What is going on in the mind of a rapist? and why is it that the victim of this specific crime is seemingly the only one directly left with mental and physical scars? what about the rapist?

The themes that came up about this act of sexual violence against women were parenting, behavior management, anger and environment. I do not believe rapists are born. I also came up with these themes, not just because they are always suspect in any case of deviance, but because of the common threads in countless stories I have heard about the rapist from the women they rape.

One story stuck out in my mind of a woman recounting the near counselling session that took place when one of the robbers decided to rape her. She recounts having to hear this man cry and sob about his horribly abusive family life while ineffectively trying to rape her. He eventually knocked her unconscious in a fit of rage, blaming her for his inadequacies of the moment.

Women mistakenly feel something is wrong with them for being raped, and in certain communities in Jamaica, the women are ridiculed for allowing themselves to fall prey to such an act right before being ostracized. This inflicted perspective can lead to years of shame and the development of Depression and even personality disorders. However, I posit, that in the melee of hatred and anger directed at the rapist and to the victim, the underlying pathology of the rapist is often ignored.

Besides the abject horror that I feel every single time I listen to the trauma of rape – by the way 1 in 4 women can expect to be raped in their lifetime according to statistics from W.H.O. (WHAT????!!) – I have often thought the anger that women feel about rape is also apparent in the rapist. Not that he is angry about raping but that he is angry generally speaking.

In my research this is what I found:

Anger: Researching this through the avenues of forensic psychology I found that Anger pervades the mind of a rapist. Its not so much about control- as is often touted- but more about rage. Dr. Barbaree , the principal investigator of  a study found,

“Rapists often recall being intensely angry, depressed or feeling worthless for days or even months leading up to the rape… Very often the rapists say that the trigger for the rape was when a woman made them angry, usually by rebuffing a sexual overture. The men experienced the rebuff as an insult to their manhood that intensified their emotional misery. The same study found that men who had committed rape on one or few occasions named anger at the woman in a particular circumstance as the reason behind the rape“.

Then there is…

Arousal : “With the right combination of factors, most men can be aroused by violent sex” . This is one of the findings in the same study listed above. This research was conducted on hundreds of convicted rapists in the USA as well as “normal” men. They found rapists with the most victims were more sexually aroused by forced sex in general, positing evidence for a type of rape based on Sadism.

Now that I have thrown in my two cents into the fray, I want to introduce you to a letter I found from a convicted rapist to his psychologist. It’s in the public domain. Once you have a look at it, tell me what you think – Richard Gillmore letter.

(Dr Tammy Haynes, “Inside the Mind of a Rapist”,, 27 April 2011)


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