srv: sexual assault perpetrator behavior

When it comes to sexual assault and rape,  sometimes people think that it has to be a stranger hiding in a dark alley. But in fact the overwhelming majority of sexual assaults that happen to college students are committed by someone the survivor knows.

And the overwhelming majority of these assaults are committed by a very small number of people—less than 3% of the population. Research has found that these individuals show a predictable range of behaviors when attempting to perpetrate an assault.

For example, they may:

  • Seek out vulnerable individuals—younger, less experienced, more isolated
  • Separate them from the group, to get them alone
  • Encourage them to drink, giving them drinks with an unknown amount of alcohol in them
  • Attempt to build trust and push boundaries, so that the targeted individual will agree to small things, and then make them feel guilty for not agreeing to bigger things


Not all sexual assault follows this pattern. Some sexual assault happens in the context of a dating relationship. Some happens between strangers, using physical force and violence. Some happens because the perpetrator really doesn’t understand what consent it. But the pattern described above is what sexual violence often looks like.


When you notice these behaviors—i.e., when you see something not okay—do something. And “something” is anything that isn’t nothing: confront the situation directly; interrupt with a distraction; or delegate by telling someone what you’ve noticed.




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