Free Essay Sample «Sexual Homicide: Frequency, Explanations and Offender Behavior»

«Sexual Homicide: Frequency, Explanations and Offender Behavior»


"Violence against females carries on persisting as one of the most monstrous, systematic and prevalent human rights abuses. It is the hazard to all females, and the barrier to all the attempts for growth, peace, and sex equality in the society," - Ban Ki moon. Forty-five percent of females have experienced some type of domestic aggression, sexual assault or stalking. Nearly twenty-one percent of young girls, experience some type of child sexual abuse. As a minimum 80,000 females suffer rape annually and, what is more hideous, two females a week in England and Wales are murdered by the aggressive partner or even ex-partner. It constitutes approximately forty percent of all female killing casualties (HM Government 2007). This essay is meant to discuss the topic of sexual homicide. It particularly describes the motives for the offences, the behaviour of the offender, provides explanatory models relevant to the topic, and describes how effective the methods used to identify and capture perpetrators are. 

Sexual Perpetrators

Usually, perpetrators are males that are emotionally unstable. However, they are capable to deal with living on a day-to-day foundation in a sensibly standard and capable way. An offender is usually a seemingly normal person, but one, who has a complexity of interaction with other people in the enduring or long-lasting manner. In cases of a sexual attack, the attacker is usually a date, friend, co-worker, relative, or a casual acquaintance person.

Women are capable and do commit sexual killings as well. Most usually, crimes fall into two major categories: having sexual contact with teen males creating a crime of legal rape, and the crimes where they are administering penalty to the male child and the penalty comprises the sexual organs. It is important to keep in mind that some of the most productive serial murderers with huge lists of sadistic sexual attacks have similar childhood, which comprises the strict sexual-oriented penalties, dished out by a parent, grandmother, or foster mother. Ultimately, female may commit sexual crimes against other female that may not be officially called a rape depending on the precise wording of a certain state's statutes, but may be charged as the sexual battery or analogous crimes.

Such category of people as exhibitionists has to be considered as latent attackers, because their actions can be a part of a dream that comprises sexual attack. All perpetrators have the potential to be aggressive. This is the most imperative consideration when deciding how to respond to the sexual attack.

Many criminals seek to give vent to the aggression, insecurities, and frustrations on the casualties. For these criminals, the act of degrading and humiliating the victims whilst obtaining the control over them is the main inspiring factor. Felons of this sort are usually sexual sadists, discovering pleasure in physically and sexually torturing other people; whether or not, sexual act, in fact, takes place. Assaults under this type are "passionate" and usually are directed at a casualty familiar with the felon - particularly toward a casualty that has denied the advances of the criminal or whom the criminal wants to penalize.

At times, the perpetrators may be apparently emotionless. They can view the casualties as mere objects, rather than human beings. The total lack of sympathy makes these people not capable to care or acknowledge that their acts are harmful to another person or, they are so obsessive by own requirements and desires that they are abnormally capable to discount own acts from the casualty’s viewpoint to obtain what they search for.

The Appearance of the Sexual Offender

As far as what "causes" sexual criminals to become criminals, there are lots of dissimilar theories. Some of the main ones comprise:

  • That offending is a learned conduct. Various sex criminals have been victimized in their childhood and, therefore, they learned it is far better to be the person to have the control than to be the person subjected to the control of other people. As they realize what it is like to be the casualty, they may, in fact, appreciate being the control holder on the other side of the equation more eagerly.
  • Those criminals have arrested evolvement particularly in the spheres of sympathy. It prevents them from feeling, from realizing what their acts cause other people to feel - as they cannot "relate" and so, have not learned to slow down own acts.
  • Those criminals act out in a respond to the low self-worth. They utilize the violent acts to exercise control to improve own self-image, to feel influential, and to dominate other people, therefore, making them think much better about themselves.
  • Those criminals have extremely high degrees of self-worth. Conflicting to the above, this approach offers humans with high self-worth are most likely to reply forcefully when the exaggerated view of themselves is endangered by disapproval or apparent insult or when somebody blocks the requirement for satisfaction. The gang members have high self-worth. So do husband abusers. On the narcissism level, violent felons, long believed to be “acting out” low self-worth, gained a higher mean score than humans in any other category. In brief: the higher self-worth, the lesser self-control or the higher a person believes of oneself, the less regard a person has for other human beings (Abel & Osborne 1992, p. 675-687).

Ritual and Signature in Sexual Homicide

Ritual and signature are, in fact, dream-driven, repetitive crime scene conduct, which have been discovered to take place in a serial sexual homicide. After the initial researches of the sexual killing by von Krafft-Ebing, criminals have been found to participate in dissimilar crime scene behaviors, which are needless in the commission of a murder (Schlesinger at al 2010, p. 239-246). These crime scene conducts have been discovered to be a result of the felon’s abnormal sexual dreams, wherein the killing and the recurring actions are parts of the perpetrator’s sexual-arousal model. In empirical researches, scientists have investigated the link between perpetrator’s deviant sexual dreams and how the crimes were performed.

Thus, the major question was how constantly crime scene behaviours feature dissimilar crimes, how exceptional they are, and how they might work as an investigative support. In the 1980s, the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit started researching a crime scene conduct of sexual killers, with special stress on serial sexual killers, to assist in the creation of profiles of unknown perpetrators. They distinguish the felon’s, so-called, modus operandi (his or her aware method of committing the felony) from the recurring conduct (needless for the completion of a crime and usually analogous among crimes, seeming to be ritualistic), which was dream-driven. Due to the fact that the repetitive-ritualistic actions rise from a criminal’s dreams and fantasies that are somewhat characteristic for every individual, it has been offered dreams-driven rituals are also exceptional; probably, as exceptional as a criminal’s signature. Therefore, this sort of signature conduct had been termed the felon’s calling card and may be utilized to link a series of crimes to one person. The knowledge of ritualistic and signature conduct has been obtained from medical practice experience through the assessment of criminals and from the criminal investigations.

Explanatory Models

We can call the sexual homicide the type of killing, which contains the aspect component in the chronological events progressing to a killing. The sexual meaning and the parts included in the entire episode are distinct for each individual criminal. It may be perpetrated before, after or during the killing of a casualty. I can assert that the majority of serial murderers fall into a category of sexual homicide. Youngsters molested by pedophilic felons, females murdered in a course of rape and any other person whose passing away is thought to have been linked with the sexual aspect may be called the casualties of sexual violence.

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From my point of view, an image of the sexual killings conjures up associated feelings of horror and fascination. With the existing media obsession an image of the manifold casualty murder have even been carried far and wide with the help of thrillers and in some cases genuine crime books have been written detailing existences of the serial murderers. Fundamentally, perpetration of sexual killing is thought to be the function of the breakthrough of a fundamental sex conflicts; particularly in cases where an act of killing is sexually satisfying (Schlesinger 2003, p. 271-316). This part of the sexual killing has been put through the serious analysis by behavioral scientists and sociologists but the scarcity of the solidly dependable body of scientific literature still tramps on in contrast to the huge literature in non sexual killing. This scarcity is partially an outcome of the doubt of sex motivation in killing.

Today many people know that lots of killings, which had previously been taken as sex motivated have been proved otherwise. Furthermore, the difference between sexual killing and other cases of criminal killing is usually indistinct. However, for sexual murder to be categorized in isolation from other types of killing, crime approaches have to be utilized to classify sex murder under three wide categories: sociological, biological and also psychological.

Biological Theories

Money’s biological approach of sadistic sexual killing is concentrated on only one clinical case and the sciatic literature (Money 1990, p. 26-36). In his model, the sex stimulation of the sadistic sexual killer appears from the psychological and physical pain of the casualties in the sexual dreams or real crimes. According to Money, the major ground for the sexual sadism is a tumour or trauma in the limbic system, the area of a brain, which controls the sexual and assault conducts (Money 1990, p. 26-36). Though Money considers the neurological aspects to be the main ground for sadistic sexual killing, he asserts that endocrinological and genetic aspects are also at play (Money 1990, p. 26-36). Thus, sadistic killers may have testosterone shortage, which causes compensatory hyper masculine conduct, for instance, sexual killing. 

Psychological Theories

Classical (respondent) conditioning:Meloy asserts sexual arousal in perpetrators is a conditioned reply to the conditioned stimulus of force and violence (Meloy 2000, p. 1–22). MacCulloch, Snowden, Wood and Mills pay attention to the fact that the observed progressive escalation of aggression of dreams and crimes may be clarified by a process of training (MacCulloch et al 1983, p. 20-29). According to the authors, the sex arousal triggered by the violent sexual dream or violent sexual crime lessens with recurrence, driving perpetrators to increasingly violent stimuli to get the same high degree of arousal (MacCulloch et al 1983, p. 20-29).

Operant conditioning:MacCulloch et al. have offered sadistic sexual dreams comprise the operant conducts, which reduce feelings of ineffectiveness. For instance, the sexual killer’s interpersonal problems with females can make him sense incompetent. Therefore, sadistic sexual dreams can result in feelings of control. The possibility of these fantasies returning, once the perpetrator feels incompetence, is augmented by the effectiveness of the dreams in lessening the unpleasant feelings (MacCulloch et al 1983, p. 20-29).

Operant and classical conditioning theories seem to be hopeful avenues of clarifications for the initiation and succession of violent sexual dreams and conducts. Nevertheless, all the hypotheses have yet to be checked in empirical studies.

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Psychodynamic Approaches

According to Revitch and Schlesinger, there are two kinds of sexual homicides: compulsive and catathymic. Catathymic homicides are a type of the symbolic matricide, when perpetrator’s intense anger towards own mother is displaced to another female. This anger may have many origins; however, practically all of them can be traced to the childhood (Schlesinger 2003, p. 271-316). Catathymic homicides are remote events, which comprise merely one casualty, usually, a female familiar with the felon (Revitch 1964, p. 662-670).

Compulsive sexual homicides are a work of loners, who foster feelings of rage towards females, and spend much time lost in sadistic sexual dreams (Schlesinger 2003, p. 271-316). Compulsive sexual killers assault casualties not familiar with them. The majority of them become serial sexual killers (Revitch 1964, p. 662-670). The theme of matricentric anger is also at the core of Stone’s explanatory model of sexual killing. After thorough analysis, Stone made a decision that sexual killing is, at all times, the act of displaced revenge against a female parent, who humiliated the killer or exhibited unsuitable sexual conduct (Stone 1998, p. 1-5).

According to Meloy, matricentric anger comes from an irregular child–mother differentiation process (Meloy 2000, p. 1–22). This conception is based on the Stoller’s approach that asserts boys, who are ineffective in differentiating themselves from the mothers, evolve not merely the ambiguous masculine identity but also sex perversions, which permit them to express the anger against the dominating and controlling female parent indirectly (Stoller 1976, pp. 61-162). Lastly, Liebert’s psychodynamic model is concentrated on the approaches of Klein and Kernerg. According to the model, maternal hostility during a kid’s early psychological growth supports splitting, an old protection system, which allows a youngster to manage with the paranoid suffering (Liebert 1985, p. 187-200). Sexual killers see the casualties as the personification of evil, and shift the anger from the aggressive mothers to surrogate female casualties.

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The Motivational Model

The researchers associated with the FBI have evolved the motivational model of a sexual murder (Ressler, Burgess and Douglas 1988, p. 87-122). The social isolation and abnormal sexual dreams are the two main aspects of the FBI’s motivational model. According to the investigators, a fantasy and the act of sexual killing are unsuitable coping strategies utilized by perpetrators in the face of stressful circumstances.

The motivational model has lots of strengths. It has the strong empirical foundation, specifically in-depth interrogations of the felons and official files related to 36 sexual killers. Additionally, this model is chiefly complete, because it takes into account the evolvement factors, personal traits, and situational factors. However, the model does have certain restriction. First, the research group is not a random example, and serial sexual killers are over-represented in it (Godwin & Rosen 2004, p. 150-158). Also, it is not likely to identify factors special to sexual killers, as the FBI research did not utilize the comparison group. Moreover, the research does not distinguish between sexual killers of females, of males, and of youngsters, in spite of the fact that these types of perpetrators can be so dissimilar as to justify separate researches (Beauregard & Proulx 2007, p. 420-432).

Inside the Criminal Mind

In the 1970s, Howard Teten (Special Agent) and others in the FBI started to use the insights of psychological knowledge to aggressive criminal conduct. In 1972, the FBI launched a Behavioral Science Unit - later named the Behavioral Analysis Unit – that stared seeking for models in the conduct of serial rapists and murderers. Agents Robert Ressler and John Douglas performed many interviews of serial murderers like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffrey Dahmer to obtain the insight in their modus operandi, backgrounds, and motivations. This gathered data assisted agents in drawing up profiles of violent felons escaping law enforcement. Rapidly apprehending a felon of a violent crime or rape, murder is the main aim of all law enforcement agencies. Depicted by one author as the emitter of signals during a crime, the felon has to be identified as rapidly as possible to stop additional violence (Abel & Osborne 1992, p. 675-687).

The Profiling Process

This process is described by the FBI as the investigative approach to recognize the main behavioural and personality features of the criminal based on the analysis of the crimes he or she has performed. The process mainly comprises seven steps.

1) Estimation of the criminal act.

2) Complete estimation of the characteristics of the crime scene.

3) Complete analysis of the casualty.

4) Estimation of prelude police reports.

5) Estimation of the autopsy protocol.

6) Evolvement of profile with critical criminal’s features.

7) Investigative proposals predicated on creation of a profile (Douglas, Burgess & Ressler 1995, p. 38-45).

The process utilized by the individual making the criminal personality profile is similar to that utilized by doctors to define the diagnosis and treatment plan. Profiling does not provide the individuality of the criminal, but it does point to the sort of human being most likely to have performed a crime having some exceptional features.

Criminal profiling has been extremely helpful in investigating sexual homicides as lots of these crimes seem senseless and, therefore, suggest few apparent clues concerning the murderer’s personality. In killings, which result from jealousy or the family argue, or occur during the commission of a crime, the eagerly identifiable motive commonly provides crucial data concerning the personality of the murderer. As lots of sexual killings fail to provide this data, investigators must look to methods, which supplement conservative investigative approaches to identify the attacker (Douglas, Burgess & Ressler 1995, p. 38-45).

Case in Point

Criminal profiling utilizes the behavioural features of the criminal as its foundation. Sexual killings yield much data concerning the motivation and mind of the attacker. A novel dimension is given to the investigator by means of the profiling approach, chiefly in cases where the fundamental motivation for the attack can be abruptly hidden from even the more knowledgeable detective. This case will illustrate the point.

During 1982, Midwest police detective telephonically contacted the Behavioural Science Unit asking for help. The detective described the rape/murder of a twenty-five-years-old white married female. The casualty was murdered in own living room with no proof of any fight or defence attempts. The casualty was lying face up on the floor. The dress was up over the hips demonstrating her genital sphere, and the panties were taken down to the knees. The weapon (a hammer) belonging to the casualty was discovered in a kitchen sink. The female’s blood had been cleaned off the hammer by the killer. The female’s husband asserted jewellery belonging to his wife was missing. Laboratory reports indicated the female had been drinking at the time of the attack, and there was no proof of semen in or on the victim or the clothes. From this data, the criminal profiler told the detective he had already interviewed the murdered. He presented this scenario: The victim was drinking with the criminal before the crime. A quarrel ensues and the felon could not take it any longer. Angered, he took a hammer and returned to the living room where he struck casualty about her head and face. After the crime, the attacker understood the police would definitely incriminate him as the apparent killer. He washed the blood in the kitchen sink and cleaned blood and fingerprints from the hammer. He rolled the casualty over and "staged" a crime scene to appear the way he thought the sexually motivated crime has to look. Finished the staging by making it seem the criminal looked for cash in the flat. Upon hearing the analysis, the detective cried out, "You just told me a husband did it.” The detective was additionally advised to check female’s husband on the polygraph. About 5 days later, the casualty’s husband was charged with killing.

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Criminal profiling can never take place of methodical and well-prepared investigation nor will it ever eradicate the skilled detectives. Criminal profiling has, nevertheless, evolved itself to the degree where the detective has one more investigative tool accessible to him in resolving a sexual homicide or other crime (Godwin & Rosen 2004, p. 150-198). The criminal, conversely, has an additional concern that he will be identified and sentenced for the crime.


This essay provides the basic information about the sexual homicides and offenders, who commit these crimes. From what I have learned, sexual homicide and rape are usually hard crimes to prove, even in current environment of developing technology of DNA and dissimilar “rape kits”. To be ruled the sexual killing the genital sphere has to be checked for signals of bruising, tearing and scratching. The sensitivity of these cases demands a forensic pathologist to be capable in checking the sexually derived injuries and deciding whether the rape happened, or if results are reliable with consensual sexual conduct. These examinations comprise the inspections of genitalia, the existence or absence of semen, venereal illness and also pregnancy. The proof compiled by the medical test may be capable to either verify or refute sexual killing allegations.

For today, practically all theories of sexual killing rest on the restricted empirical basis. In some cases, there is a restricted amount of information from the restricted number of subjects. In others, the sample is biased by the overrepresentation of serial sexual killers. It should be noted the narratives of sexual killers are usually the single resource of information accessible. Many comparative researches identify the aspects, which distinguish sexual perpetrators from the sexual aggressors, as well as the features of serial sexual killers. All these analyses allow the FBI agents and police officers to discover the perpetrators with the smallest possible evidences. However, as ppeople wish to feel safety while living in this society, the additional researches are needed to provide more information concerning the rituals and signatures in sexual homicides. People at all times want to be confident that the most dangerous criminals stay in a prison. Thus, due to the cruelty of all sexual killings and the complications, which usually appear, it is extremely important that the findings presented to the court include the utmost degree of medical confidence and correctness. That is why many approaches and theories have been evolved to guarantee the highest standards and degrees of reliability in the court.



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