An Exploration of the Victim-Offender Relationship in Sexual Offending: Predicting Severity and the Presence of Violence

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Vernick, Vanessa
sexual offending, sexual offender, sex crime, sexual violence, victim-offender relationship, rational choice, deterrence
Research indicates that 19% of women and 2% of men will have been raped in their lifetime (The National Center for Victims of Crime 2018). The most recent literature on sexual offenders examines the effectiveness of current sex offender registration and notification laws. However, the bulk of the literature on sexual offending addresses the potential risk factors and predictors associated with the development of sexual offending, with a niche pocket of research exploring the decision-making processes of sex offenders. Only limited research exists with respect to the victim-offender relationship, and no research to date has applied rational choice and deterrence models to the exploration of the victim-offender relationship. Thus, the current study examines 1,758 randomly sampled registered sex offender profiles from the official New York State Sex Offender Registry database in order to determine whether the victim-offender relationship can predict the level of severity and presence of violence in sexual offence cases. While the study yields mixed findings, results open the doors for multiple avenues for future research.
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