Sexual assaults vary in terms of severity from molestation, which involves touching, stroking, fondling or grabbing of any part of the victim's body, to rape, where victims have been known to suffer severe emotional trauma. The aim of the study is to compare molesters with rapists using hypotheses that molesters and rapists commit their offences at different times of the day, at differing locations and with differing relationships with their victims. The influence of alcohol on both groups was also studied.
Convicted molesters and rapists were given a semi-structured interview in prison. Demographic information and details of each offence were obtained from prison records. Comparisons were made of the demography, time, place, reasons for assault, relationship of offender to victims and the role of alcohol and drugs consumed by the perpetrators.
Molesters and rapists were of similar age and ethnicity, but differed in that rapists had attained a lower educational level and were more likely to be single. Rapists were more likely to report having drunk alcohol, committing rape after midnight and in secluded places. Molesters struck in the afternoon hours and usually in crowded places. Victims of molesters tended to be relatives whereas victims of rapists were more likely to be ex-spouses or ex-lovers. Molesters tended to give other reasons for their offences.
Differences between molesters and rapists could lead to intervention strategies chiefly targeting the issues of poor socialisation skills in molesters and alcohol counselling for rapists.