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Undetected Rapist

Dr. David Lisak has conducted research on what he calls the “undetected” rapists – men who commit rapes but who are either not reported or not prosecuted for their crimes. Lisak suggests that these “undetected rapists” represent the vast majority of rapists, and account for the vast majority of rapes. Dr. Lisak describes these characteristics of undetected rapists:

“These men tend to be far more in control of their anger than their incarcerated counterparts, and therefore far less likely to inflict gratuitous injuries on their victims. However, their crimes are characterized by extensive planning and premeditation, the frequent use of alcohol and other drugs to render their victims vulnerable, and the use of sufficient force and threats to terrify their victims into submission. Further, a majority of these rapists are serial offenders, and a majority commit other forms of violence, such as battery and child abuse.”


The “Undetected Rapist” is a video from the National Judicial Education Program showing the reenactment of pieces of interviews conducted by Dr. David Lisak, the Director of Men’s Sexual Trauma Research Center at the University of Massachusetts at Boston , with fraternity members during one of his studies of sexually predatory male behavior. The video contains a college male explaining how unsuspecting women are targeted for rape. The subject uses terms such as “target” and “prey” to refer to the women. The video closes with an analysis of the interview. The National Judicial Education Program has developed a discussion guide about, and response to, the video.


Lisak, D. & Miller, P. M. (2002). Repeat rape and multiple offending among undetected rapists. Violence and Victims, 17, 73-84.
Lisak, D. (1997). Male Gender Socialization and the Perpetration of Sexual Abuse. In: R.L. Levant and G.R. Brooks (Eds.) Men and the Problems of Non-Relational Sex. New York: Wiley.
Lisak, D., Hopper, J. & Song, P. (1996). Factors in the cycle of violence: Gender rigidity and emotional constriction. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9, 721-743.
Lisak, D. (1995). Integrating a critique of gender in the treatment of male survivors of childhood abuse. Psychotherapy, 32, 258-269.
Lisak, D. & Ivan, C. (1995). Deficits in intimacy and empathy in sexually aggressive men. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10, 296-308.
Lisak, D. (1994). The psychological impact of sexual abuse: Content analysis of interviews with male survivors. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7, 525-548.


Dr. Lisak gave a presentation titled “Criminal Predatory Behavior – Who are the Rapists?” for the New Mexico Judicial Education Center in 2005.