TYPOLOGIES OF RAPISTS

Typologies—or classification systems—are often utilized to categorize individuals who are alike into distinct categories. Ideally, a typology consists of any number of categories where individuals within each category are very similar (or even

Social-Ecological Model for Understanding Rape identical), and each category consists of individuals who are different from the individuals in all other categories

figure 3.1 Social-Ecological Model for Understanding Rape identical), and each category consists of individuals who are different from the individuals in all other categories (i.e., individuals in Category A are different from individuals in Category B). Typologies have been utilized in criminological research to make diverse crimes and offenders more manageable. Development of typologies for rapists has many practical uses, including aiding the criminal investigation process, informing decisions within the criminal justice system, treatment planning, and understanding the causes of rape. It is important to understand, however, that rapists do not always fit neatly into a single category; they only approximate the characteristics of people in that category. Sometimes, rapists may fit into more than one category, while others may not fit into any category. In order to be considered reliable and accurate, typologies must withstand the test of time. That is, follow-ups must be conducted on a regular basis to see if offenders continue to fall into the categories based on the criteria originally used to develop them.

Caution must be exercised, therefore, in interpreting rapist typologies. Rape is a behavior reflecting multi-dimensional needs. Using typologies to "diagnose" a rapist as a certain type can have limiting effects on an investigation. It can ignore other offender motivational patterns and ultimately overlook physical and behavioral evidence. More on investigations will be discussed in Chapter 9. In this section, three of the most common rapist typologies are presented. These typologies were constructed using a male rapist/female victim dyad. Other typologies representing different dyads (e.g., female rapist/male victim) also exist and will be covered in Chapter 7.

 
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