Acquaintance Rapist Myths: Not Drunk Students but Predators Who Hate Women


The typical perpetrator of acquaintance rape does not fit the commonly-believed profile, says the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram in the second of a series. It usually is not the drunken college boy who somehow misunderstood when she said no. Instead, the acquaintance rapist is a serial hunter – charming on the outside, hateful and manipulative within. He puts as much thought and planning into his crimes as a bank robber. “When they talk in front of juries, they can convince them that they are just the little misunderstood college boy or workingman or whatever,” said Ft. Worth police Sgt. Cheryl Johnson, a veteran sex-crimes detective. “But they are predators. They are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Some detectives and victim advocates have long been aware of that sinister portrait, one confirmed by two major studies in the last decade. That portrait punctures many stubborn myths about what is by far the most common form of sexual assault. Acquaintance rape is not just “drunk sex” or “date rape.” The perpetrator is not less guilty or destructive than the proverbial stranger who jumps out of the bushes. Stranger rapists and acquaintance rapists often share much, experts say, including a profound lack of empathy and a hatred of women. That’s why detectives, prosecutors, and researchers nationwide are developing new strategies to bring acquaintance rapists to justice, something that rarely happens now. “It’s essential, absolutely essential that we figure this out,” said Russell Strand, a sex-crimes expert who trains military investigators and civilian detectives. “We can’t get stuck on the old rape myths, continue to believe that this is just date rape. A date is nothing more than a tool for a sex offender. It might seem like a date, but they are being set up.”

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