Why Do Some Men Rape?
By Robert J. Burrowes
A recent report from Equality Now titled ‘The World’s Shame: The Global Rape Epidemic’ offered a series of recommendations for strengthened laws to deter and punish sexual violence against women and girls.
However, there is substantial evidence that legal approaches to dealing with violence in any context are ineffective.
For example, the empirical evidence on threats of punishment (that is, violence) as deterrence and the infliction of punishment (that is, violence) as revenge reveals variable impact and context dependency, which is readily apparent through casual observation.
There are simply too many different reasons why people break laws in different contexts. See, for example, ‘Crime Despite Punishment’.
Moreover, given the overwhelming evidence that violence is rampant in our world and that the violence of the legal system simply contributes to and reinforces this cycle of violence, it seems patently obvious that we would be better off identifying the cause of violence and then designing approaches to address this cause and its many symptoms effectively.
And reallocating resources away from the legal and prison systems in support of approaches that actually work.
So why do some men rape?
All perpetrators of violence, including rapists, suffered enormous violence during their own childhoods.
This violence will have usually included a great deal of ‘visible’ violence (that is, the overt physical violence that we all readily identify) but, more importantly, it will have included a great deal of ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence as well: the violence perpetrated by adults against children that is not ordinarily perceived as violent.
For a full explanation, see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.
This violence inflicts enormous damage on a child’s Selfhood leaving them feeling terrified, self-hating and powerless, among other horrific feelings.
However, because we do not allow children the emotional space to feel their emotional responses to our violence, these feelings of terror, self-hatred and powerlessness (among a multitude of others), become deeply embedded in the child’s unconscious and drive their behaviour without their conscious awareness that they are doing so.
So what is ‘invisible’ violence? It is the ‘little things’ we do every day, partly because we are just ‘too busy’.
For example, when we do not allow time to listen to, and value, a child’s thoughts and feelings, the child learns to not listen to themSelf thus destroying their internal communication system.
When we do not let a child say what they want (or ignore them when they do), the child develops communication and behavioural dysfunctionalities as they keep trying to meet their own needs (which, as a basic survival strategy, they are genetically programmed to do).