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Key Findings: Rethinking Serial Perpetration

The serial perpetration hypothesis — which suggests that a small number of men perpetrate the vast majority of rapes, and that these men perpetrate multiple rapes over time — has played an important role in the field of rape prevention as a model of sexual violence, especially raising awareness of rapists who have not been identified by the criminal justice system. A 2015 study published in JAMA Pediatrics, A Trajectory Analysis of the Campus Serial Rapist Assumption, raises questions about the serial perpetrator hypothesis.

Although it is clear that a subset of perpetrators do commit multiple acts of rape over time, the research suggests that most perpetrators do not chronically offend over time. Instead, perpetrators are much more heterogeneous in terms of their risk factors, methods of coercion, and pattern of offending over time.

 

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August 2015

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National Sexual Violence Resource Center