What Makes a Rapist

 “I grabbed her butt,” Michael continues. “She started to scream a little, so I put my hand over her mouth. I kind of walked her over to the beach and laid her down. I put my fingers in her panties. In her vagina. I started moving them in and out…All of a sudden she said, ‘I just had a miscarriage.’ It was like someone hit me with a hammer.” Michael shakes his head theatrically; I can’t help wondering if this is for Dr. Choy’s benefit. “I realized that I was exactly where I’d been with a woman so many times before. But this time I’d skipped a couple steps—I forgot to get her permission. I honestly felt bad. I stopped and I said ‘Man, I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me.’ I helped her off the sand and asked if I could do anything for her. She asked me to walk her home. And then I thought, ‘I’ve still got a shot at this! I might still be getting some!’”

Michael regards me unflinchingly, his cheeks faintly flushed—with pride or embarrassment about what he’s telling me, I don’t know. Having read the police report on his arrest, I know that even now, even in the presence of Dr. Choy, Michael is still minimizing the crime he committed and its effect on his victim, who told the police: “At one point he motioned with one hand towards his pants as if he was going to take them off. While he was doing this he stated, ‘I’m going to stick it in.’” Then, she said, as Michael was walking her home, “He said I’m sorry, I’m sick, I don’t know why I do this,’” and fled on his bicycle. Based on her description, Michael was arrested a few minutes later.

Sitting in this room with Michael, I can imagine how convincing he must have been. Even with the thirty pounds he’s gained since his heyday and his prison stay from July 1995 to August 2000, he’s still a young-looking, attractive man: blue eyes, blonde hair, the kind of face you might see smiling out at you from an online personal ad. He shows me photographs of himself as the ladies’ man he was in his thirties, before the steel bars of Folsom Federal Penitentiary came between him and the women he started ‘trolling’ for on a nightly basis in the aftermath of his divorce. Flipping through the thick stack of photos, Michael estimates that he had sex with a hundred women during that time. In many of those encounters, he admits, the line between forced and consensual sex was thin. “I wasn’t doing it for love or for any of the right reasons,” he says. “I was doing it to justify my manhood, to be  able to tell my buddies about my latest caper.”

As he did the night he was arrested, Michael went out looking for women who were drunk, women who were lonely, women who were impressed by the cash he flashed around. Once he zeroed in on his target, he did whatever it took. “I’ve been what they needed me to be,” he told me. “If it’s the single mom, I’ll throw the kid up in the air and laugh; that makes them visualize that I could be the next dad. If they just got dumped, I give them a line like, ‘If you were my girl I’d never treat you like that.’ I call it ‘painting the picture’.”

Listening, I thought, Michael sounds like some of the jerks I used to date. And then I wondered: could any man become a rapist?

 “The difference between what happened with that woman that night and all the others was just this: I put my hand over her mouth,” Michael acknowledges. “I didn’t have sexual intercourse with her.” But the California Penal Code provides for the many rapists like Michael who use objects other than their penises to sexually assault their victims. And so Michael was sentenced to six years (of which he served five years and two months) for violating Penal Code 289-a, “Forcible acts of sexual penetration with a foreign object…accomplished against the person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person.”

First Published May 18, 2009

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Comments

Kay 04.17.2012

His very own mother taught him from an early age that rape was justified in some cases, even if it involved a little girl, that it was a crime with no consequences, and that they could all live a happy life with a rapist, now they wonder WHAT made him a rapist?
That woman is responsible for raising a boy who though women deserve to be treated as objects, she ignored her own daughter’s needs and saw her as a mean to get financial stability and a “man” by her side.
His stepfather AND his mother deserve to be in jail too.

sammy 04.12.2012

What makes a rapist ... testosterone.
Same thing that makes for gang rapists, sex slavery thugs, the 2 million U.S. males currently in prison, as well as all those neighborhood guys on your state sex offender list.

Lothar McUrkel04.08.2012

This is a load of b*llsh*t folks. "Don't drink. Don't go out at night. Don't go to the bar. Don't have sex. Don't do the drugs".... What are women supposed to do, hide in their kitchen and live like their great-grandmothers? Sure why don't we just roll back 40-odd great years of progress for women just because some guys can't control their d*cks... Live your life. No regrets. Bad things will happen if you go out in the world, sure. But better to go out and live than be a prisoner. Just be prepared, trust your instincts, and take reasonable precautions. Lastly as a man with two little sisters, I feel that "men"(and I use the term loosely) like Michael should be taken out in a field and shot behind one ear. Once a rapist, always a rapist.

tim tim04.02.2012

Dr Choy, you`re being played. `Michael` is stroking you, he`s telling you everything he`s sure that you need to hear.
`Michael` hasn`t changed, he`ll be much harder to catch next time and there will be a NEXT time.


There is a correlation between prior abuse and identity formation where sex functions as an identity attractor for this disfunctionality. The perpetrator focuses on behavior that mediates control - i.e. extreme emotional distress coupled with preconceived notions and careless trust by the victim that increase vulnerability. While the rapist expresses the focused behavior of a predator, he ultimately seeks to reinforce his own identity suggesting there is an underlying emotional conflict that is being expressed through reaction formation. The victim is defined through projection to embody the predator's guilt and self-loathing in order to justify the violence. Eventually repeat behavior produces an habitual response making repeat offenses a very high probability. With this in mind it unlikely that the described perpetrator would rehabilitate in an open environment suggesting a closed identity system would be suitable for this subject - i.e. an environment where there are no women or children that may be considered monastic or hermit like. Failing that a repeat laspe into crime would occur with in 4 standard deviations if the subject where reintroduced into an enabled environment. Returning to the scenes of old crimes unsupervised reestablishes the preexisting connection that emotionally defined the original crime. A recovery therefore requires creating a detachment to the original euphoric feelings of empowerment, their locals, and the substitution and refocus of these identity attractors into positive and culturally reinforced behaviors. The passion expressed as aggression toward women must be refocused into a productive activity. This requires a period of exposure to the underlying trigger in order to desensitize the subject through mortification and abstenance until the trigger eventually produces habitual ambivalence followed by then establishing an emotional bond of a positive and beneficial behavioral nature to replace the old disfunction. This bond must project unity between the subject and women so that the subject no longer has an over compensated boundary.

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