Evaluating rapists' distorted beliefs and deviant sexual fantasies: a preliminary study

Date20 April 2009
Published date20 April 2009
AuthorAnthony Beech,Tracey Swaffer,Vidyah Multra,Dawn Fisher
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Sociology
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Evaluating rapistsÕ distorted
beliefs and deviant sexual
fantasies: a preliminary study
Anthony Beech
University of Birmingham, UK
Tracey Swaffer
The Archway Centre, Lincoln, UK
Vidyah Multra
Rampton Hospital, Retford, UK
Dawn Fisher
Llanarth Court Hospital, Raglan and the University of Birmingham, UK
This study sought to further develop the growing body of qualitative evidence exploring the content,
duration and triggers of cognitive distortions and deviant sexual fantasies in perpetrators who offend
against adult women, using grounded theory techniques. Detailed accounts of the thoughts and
fantasies of 10 rapists pre- and post-intervention were analysed. All participants reported having
benefited from the programme. Nine participants reported that the victim-focused work had the
most impact on them. It was also found that after treatment: (a) there was a reduction in the level of
cognitive distortions around victim blaming, other justifications for offending (such as alcohol use)
and the acknowledgment of the impact that their offences has had upon their victims; (b) reductions
in denial of fantasising about the offences prior to their offences. The implications of this study, for
the improvement of intervention programmes for this group of offenders, are discussed.
Rapists; cognitive distortions; deviant sexual fantasies.
The act of committing a sexual offence against
another individual is consistently defined by legal
systems as an explicit behaviour (Groth & Hobson,
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have frequently argued that the perpetrators of
sexual offences against women habitually employ
two major cognitive factors to legitimise and
indeed support committing such offences: (1)
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cognitive factors have often been conceptualised
as being shaped by a shared cultural belief in male
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perpetrators of sexual offences against women
often reveal these beliefs concerning the personal
rights of others, in particular the personal rights of
women. These more general distorted beliefs are
supported by a system of distorted rape beliefs,
which suggest that women invite rape through
their appearance, or trivialise the impact of a rape
experience by construing the act as a pleasurable

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