Sexual Assault: The Convergence of Offender, Victim, and Situational Elements of the Criminal Event

Alison J. Sherley, Rutgers University

Existing Canadian research on sexual violence tends to focus on the prevalence of the crime rather than the components and inner dynamics of the sexual assault event. Using a routine activities and criminal event perspective (Sacco and Kennedy, 1996), this research focuses on offender, victim, and situational characteristics of the sexual assault event extracted from a sample of Canadian police files. In conceptualizing sexual assault as a criminal event that occurs at certain times and places, the interaction of both behavioural and situational elements of the crime are explored. Life circumstances and the presence of opportunity, as well as offender and victim characteristics and behaviors, are investigated in relation to how these factors facilitate or hinder sexual assault. The results of the study contribute to a broader understanding of how major elements of the sexual assault event converge and identify particular characteristics that may play a role in more serious sexual assaults.

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Updated 05/20/2006