In this article (Beauregard et al, 2007) the authors use what's termed a rational decision model to profile the motives and actions of serial sex offenders.
The Human being as a rational being
The paradigm used in this article reflects Aristotle's words as 'man as being a rational being'.
In this study, the authors reflect on the offender's own unique point of view and how this perspective influences the decision-making process in such factors as what victim is chosen and what location best serves the agenda of the offender.
Methodology of the study
The authors utilized a semi-structured interview of:
"The participants in this study included any individual who committed two or more sexual assaults or sex-related crimes."
Finally 69 individuals gave accounts that could be used in the final analysis.
The questionnaire which accompanied the interview included a number of pre-crime factors:
Results and discussion
* For a significant number of serial sex offenders, time was spent prowling or working towards their end goal (42%) Some serial rapists have been known to travel fairly long distances.
*More than half (57%) of the subjects informed the interviewer that they hunted in specific places. This category included 'local visibility' whereby the offender contacted the victim and arranged to meet in an area the offender knows well.
The reasons for this are highlighted by the study's authors:
"...gain access to them, and to estimate their vulnerability. Some of these places were also known by offenders to be both isolated and attractive to potential victims"
*Some offenders (19%) got involved in work that would bring potential victims to them. (Hockey coach, janitor, or Kindergarten teacher).
*16% of these of the interviewees utilized family connection, in essence by dating or forming a relationship with a parent for instance, and exploiting chances to gain access to the children.
I was slightly surprised by the outcome listed in the study that the overall appearance of the victim did not matter as much as the location and availability of the victim (45%).
*Appearance of the victim was the primary focus of the offender in 38% of cases.
*Vulnerability mattered in about 30% of cases. Here the serial offenders picked up on victim vulnerability - whether hitchhiking, young, etc.
*In 22% of cases, it was the age that motivated the choice of victim.
I'll leave the summary there as it's a large study but well worth reading, not only to understand the factors of sexual offenses. But also as a way to make oneself safer.
This is a fascinating study that offers the reader a unique insight into the behavior and decision-making process of a serial sex offender. Through interviews and questionnaires, a policy can be developed which protects the most vulnerable people and prevent some crimes from taking place. As a student of forensic psychology, it's imperative that one acquaint oneself with a broad array of literature that can elucidate the motivations and behaviors of these individuals.
I would also suggest that along with practical and hands-on experience, this literature can also help one develop the instinct of a seasoned psychologist. One who relies on prior experience and knowledge to develop the 'gut' instinct which is the apex of any seasoned practitioner.
The study can be found here:
Beauregard, E., Rossmo, D.K. & Proulx, J. A Descriptive Model of the Hunting Process of Serial Sex Offenders: A Rational Choice Perspective. J Fam Viol22, 449–463 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-007-9101-3