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J Interpers Violence. 2011 Sep;26(14):2866-89. doi: 10.1177/0886260510390955. Epub 2010 Dec 13.

Sexual assault perpetrators' tactics: associations with their personal characteristics and aspects of the incident.

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  • 1Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


Past theory and empirical research have consistently associated a number of risk factors with sexual assault perpetration. This study extends past research by considering if the tactics which perpetrators use to obtain sex are associated with these risk factors or with characteristics of the sexual assault. Audio computer-assisted self-interviews were completed with a community sample of young, single men. Few participants reported using physical force as a tactic to obtain sex, thus this article focuses on 457 participants who used verbal coercion ( n = 152) or the victim's impairment (n = 39) to obtain sex or who were nonperpetrators (n = 266). Discriminant function analysis correctly classified 70% of participants. As hypothesized, analysis of covariance indicated that both groups of perpetrators scored higher than nonperpetrators on measures of negative attitudes toward women, positive attitudes about casual sex, personality traits associated with nonclinical levels of psychopathy, antisocial behavior, and alcohol problems. As compared to nonperpetrators describing their worst date, perpetrators knew the woman longer, used more isolating and controlling behaviors, misperceived her sexual intentions for a longer period of time, and engaged in more consensual sexual activities with the woman. Perpetrators who used impairment tactics did not usually consume more alcohol than other participants; however, they consumed much more alcohol during the incident. Although verbal coercion and taking advantage of an impaired victim are sometimes viewed as less serious tactics than the use of force, these findings demonstrate that perpetrators who use these strategies have personality, attitude, and experience profiles that distinguish them from nonperpetrators.

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