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Rape: Behavioral Aspects - Etiology

models sexual outcomes nature

Although there are, thus far, no unified, theoretical models for rape that are widely accepted, there has been clear progress in the development of such models. There has been a coalescence of ideas emerging from two methodologies: multi-dimensional linear models and taxonomic models. Both models use a path analytic approach, using multivariate analysis to examine the different life courses or "paths" leading to different outcomes (defined in the former case as the nature, severity, and frequency of sexual offenses, and in the latter case as different subtypes of offenders).

The input for these models are characteristics of familial, childhood, adolescent, and adult development. Childhood variables that are commonly examined include (a) caregiver instability resulting in impaired attachment, incapacity for attachment, empathy deficits, and distorted attitudes about intimacy; (b) developmental history of abuse, specifying the age of onset, duration, severity, and perpetrator relationship for emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; and (c) hypothetical biological factors (e.g., hypothesized biological substrates for psychopathy). These antecedent events from childhood and adolescence influence at least seven relevant adult outcomes: (a) impaired relationships with peers; (b) lack of empathy and callous indifference to others; (c) degree and nature of chronic anger; (d) cognitive distortions around women and sexuality; (e) deviant sexual arousal and high sexual drive; and (f) impulsive, antisocial behavior. These adult outcomes combine in a complex equation to predict the nature, severity, and frequency of criminal outcome (i.e., rape offenses). Since all of these factors throughout the life span interact in complex ways to influence the type of sexual crimes that are committed, the greatest clarity will be achieved by path models in which reliable combinations of events form unique developmental paths that lead to distinct outcomes.

Despite the evident complexity and multidimensionality of rape behavior, there has been noteworthy progress in developing and validating etiologic models using diverse samples of offenders.

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