A New Profile of On-Campus Sexual Assault

by Katie Fustich

Over the past 20 years, psychologist David Lisak has been researching rape and sexual assault on college campuses. He’s asked over 2,000 men questions like “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?” His results? One in 16 men answered “yes” to some version of that question. 

Lisak describes the “narcissism” of a rapist and how they are “very forthcoming” in talking about their offenses. This “bragging” has helped shape a new profile of rapists on college campuses: there is a 90% chance a rapist is a repeat offender. Lisak wants to make the public aware that most sexual assaults that happen on campus aren’t the result of a “one-time, bad decision.” “These are predators,” he says.

The worst part: the offenders in Lisak’s research don’t consider themselves rapists. This is often connected to the lack of a weapon, such as a knife or gun, used in completing the assault. The rapists in question merely view themselves as wisely taking advantage of a volatile situation. But there are weapons here: alcohol, drugs, and emotional manipulation are often used to the rapists advantage. 

Lisak also points a finger at the universities themselves: college administrations have become notorious for featherweight sentences for convicted rapists. Remember Kylie Angell? “Schools put too much faith in teachable moments,” he says. “These are clearly not individuals who are simply in need of a little extra education about proper communication with the opposite sex.” 

Lisak could not be more correct. We’ve done so much to educate and raise awareness that it’s no longer a matter of teaching students how to behave at parties. It’s a matter of taking action and creating a space where men do not feel entitled to a woman’s body. It’s not about telling women not to get drunk, it’s about telling men not to rape.


Thanks to NPR.

Image via MSN.

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