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Sexual Assault Support line (Maine only)
24-7 confidential: 1-800-871-7741

National Sexual Assault Support line
RAINN: 1.800.656.HOPE

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“The Undetected Rapist”

As a primer for tomorrow’s talk by David Lisak, I decided to revisit some of his research. For over 20 years, Dr. Lisak has been studying what he calls, “the undetected rapist” (men who rape but whose crime goes unreported/unpunished). In a study of 1,882 men from the Boston area, David was able to discover 120 of these “undetected rapists.” The rapists identified themselves by answering “yes” to statements such as, “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated (on alcohol or drugs) to resist your sexual advances (e.g., removing their clothes)?” Notice that neither the words “rape,” or “assault” appear in the statement but that the scenario being described is a sexual assault.

Those of you who like to work with numbers may have already noticed that 120 out of 1,882 is a pretty small percentage. Only about 6% of the respondents committed a sexual assault. On the one hand, that’s a positive result. It confirms a point that we educators drive home constantly; even though the majority of rapists are men, that doesn’t mean the majority of men are rapists. As encouraging as these numbers might be, they don’t tell the whole story…

There’s no denying that rape is a horrific crime, it’s been described as the most violent crime where the victim survives. It’s awful to think of people committing this crime even once. That being said, Dr. Lisak’s additional findings give us a glimpse into an extremely dark world. Of the 120 “undetected rapists,” 63.3% were repeat offenders. Those 76 repeat rapists accounted for 439 acts, averaging nearly 6 rapes each. These repeat rapists are, indeed, predators. They are aware of what they’re doing and they are good at it.

Here’s more from Dr. David Lisak about the realities of sexual assault, including the approach law enforcement takes when investigating rape.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

For more information:

Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists

Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence

The Undetected Rapist: Keeping Ourselves Safe (PowerPoint 2007)

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