Common Themes in the Study of Rape and Stalking: Toward a Shared Etiology

Kimberly A. Francis, University of Texas - Austin

Sociologists and criminologists have tended to examine different types of violence against women separately, and the subsequent research and theory reflect this differentiation. While starting with specific theories for specific types of offenses is necessary to build a body of knowledge, if we continue to look at behaviors in isolation, we may miss important insights into their common etiology. As we learn more about the correlates and causes of each type of violent behavior against women, it may become easier to create typologies and uncover common etiologies among them. To the extent that there are common causes of several types of violent behavior, we become closer to developing and testing a general explanation of such behavior. This paper examines the theoretical and empirical literature about two forms of violence against women, rape and stalking, and outlines the ways in which these behaviors might be linked. Specifically, rape and stalking behaviors are both gender-linked phenomena, extensions of normative behavior, share a variety of attitudinal correlates, and stem from similar perpetrator socialization. The results of this review suggest that more attention is needed toward theoretical integration so our models reflect common underlying causes.

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Updated 05/20/2006