Behavior displayed by female victims during rapes committed by lone and multiple perpetrators

Jessica Woodhams, Clive Hollin, Ray Bull, Claire Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
332 Downloads (Pure)


Research with both the general public and members of the criminal justice system reports a pervasive rape myth of a violent offender and a physically resistant victim. Despite research being conducted on victims' postrape behavior, few studies have examined victim behavior during sexual assaults, and many of those which have been conducted have tended to focus on physical resistance. This article reports two studies that examined qualitatively the behavior of female rape victims during sexual assaults. The first study is an analysis of 78 stranger sexual assaults, committed in the United Kingdom, by male offenders. The second study is an analysis of 89 allegations of stranger rape, again from the United Kingdom, perpetrated by multiple male suspects. Information about victim behavior was extracted from victims' accounts made to the police. More than 100 different victim behaviors were identified in each study, and more than 80 behaviors were common across studies. Myth-congruent behaviors were present in the sample; however, the behaviors engaged in by victims were complex and diverse. Indirect and face-saving communications were used by victims and are discussed in terms of expectations regarding victim behavior and rape stereotypes. The implications of the findings for training legal professionals, educating jurors, and counseling victims are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-452
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


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