Behavioural Coherence in Violent Group Activity: A Circumplex Model of Interpersonal Processes in Group Sexual Violence

Louise Porter, University of Liverpool

This study provides a descriptive analysis of the behaviours of offenders in 76 cases of group sexual violence. Cases were derived from police records and other archival sources (e.g. law reports and media accounts). Core elements of the offence include a surprise attack on the victim, travelling from the approach location to a new rape location, and vaginal penetration. A multivariate analysis revealed behavioural variation according to three interpersonal themes (dominance, co-operation and hostility) that have been previously identified in studies of lone sexual assault (Alison & Stein, In Press) and in conventional interpersonal reklationships (Wiggins, 1996)(. Dominancre was exemplified by forcing submission upon the victim (e.g., binding and gagging) and the commission of additional non-sexual offence actions during the attack such as stealing from the victim. Co-operation reflected a pseudo-intimate treatment of the victim, forcing compliance and participation (e.g., kissing, and forcing the victim to participate in the attack). Hostility involved overt acts of violence (e.g., using a weapon to harm the victim and post-mortem mutilation). Point-Biserial correlations with other aspects of the offences (e.g., mobility of the group, post-offence treatment of the victim) provided additional support for these conceptually different styles of committing gang rape. The presence of the interpersonal styles demonstrates that gang rape represents a distorted and violkent interpersonal process that emerges not just at an individual, but at a group level.

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Updated 05/20/2006