Psychological perspective on sexual coercion and rape

Psychological perspective on sexual coercion and rape

Whenever we hear about sexual assault or rape in the news or social media, we form an image of sexual abuse as a forced, aggressive and cruel act of raping someone. However, that is not always the case. It is always cruel, but it may or may not be aggressive. There are cases where molestation is the extent of the act. There are cases where rape is committed while the victim is under the influence of drugs, commonly known as predator rape. There are other cases where the victim simply surrenders to the rapist or offender, for the sake of their safety or due to fear. In cases of child sexual abuse, the victim is either helpless to do anything to defend themselves or are lacking the awareness of what is happening to them is actually a criminal offence! There are cases of male rape and transgender rape that are even getting ignored and are shamefully a matter of joke for some of us. Whatever is the case, the mentality of the guilty is the same. Let us try to understand the factors that contribute in altering someone's psyche in a way to make them capable enough to commit such crimes:

Understanding the psyche of a sex offender or rapist can be challenging since it is not an overnight phenomenon. A number of factors put together lead to making someone's psychology so as to commit such a crime.

A number of studies attribute such behavior linking back to abuse during childhood. Exposure to sexual abuse as a child makes it likely for the child to grow up and become a sexual offender themselves! This isn't the only type of abuse that can lead to such psychology though. Physical and emotional violence or unsupportive families can also alter the psychology of a child to later engage in aggression or sexual coercion. Such children are more likely to abuse their intimate partners to gain a sense of power. Being raised in families with extreme patriarchal structures make the learning of the child such to believe that women are inferior and bound to serve men. This can further lead them in regarding marriage as an obligation for women to be sexually available whenever required (sexual entitlement). This type of mentality is the main cause of marital rape. 

Poverty and living in a family with scarce resources have been linked to sexual coercion and sexual violence. Having a lack of security in the livelihood can lead to a crisis in (toxic) masculine identity. Such people are likely to engage in marital rape and sexual assault to other women.

The lack of orientation regarding the difference between consensual and non- consensual sex can also lead to a sense of ignorance about the whole idea of marital rape. Males being insecure about their masculinity or those engaging in phony masculine behavior can engage in crimes like rape and eve-teasing. Such men have a need to control and dominate women. They have faulty beliefs where women are perceived as competitors and must be 'won over'. Other types of faulty belief can be that women are below or underprivileged to give opinions or say NO. Men who carry such beliefs are more likely to commit rape. 

Although, in most of the sexual assault cases, sexual gratification wasn't one of the primary reasons. But still, there are enough cases where men find it more arousing to force or engage in coercion during sex. Penile plethysmography studies are linked with measuring the sexual arousal in males on the basis of the amount of blood flow in the penis. One such study was conducted on the arousal during a sexual assault. It was found that the arousal with non- consensual sex is much higher than consensual sex for the people who have a history of engaging in sexual assault. So, in order to have more pleasure, such people might engage in these activities. We all are familiar with the infamous Priyanka Reddy case or Asifa case. After this incident, for a number of days, these names were trending in the porn site columns. This clearly says that there are far more people than we can imagine that find more gratification in non-consensual or forced sex. What does that say about humanity?

Some of these people successfully suppress such desires. But what about the ones that don't? They end up becoming potential rapists. A number of them find it easier to assault their spouse or other intimate partners. Most of such cases don't even get registered. For others, the channel to such urges can be mistreating and engaging in violence towards their partners. 

Now, whatever be the psychological or environmental reason that has shaped the person such way, these can NEVER be used as excuses to get mercy for rape. It is always in the individual's hand to react to life situations. It is always their decision to let something change their personality like that. Ultimately,  that individual himself or herself or themselves are doing the sexual assault. They undeniably and most certainly hold one hundred percent responsibility of their gruesome actions. 

About the Author

Vidushi Aggarwal
Student.

It's great to see the rapid growth of mental awareness in India, we still have a long way to go though. As a budding Clin

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3 Comments

  • A really good article clarifies that rapistis and molesters are not formed in a day, it can be a life long process to have such mindset and become capable enough to such things. We really need to be more observant to our daily life activities.

  • I'm stunned on how precisely this has been written. It was so important talk about. Thank you!

  • Nice work , you do your homework well

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