Who Commits Sexual Assault Why

In our quest to understand the complexities of sexual assault, a topic that often remains shrouded in misunderstanding and stigma, it’s imperative to discuss not only the societal and psychological factors but also the critical role played by sex crime lawyers in navigating the aftermath of such offenses. 

Our goal is to engage you, the reader, in a comprehensive discussion about who commits sexual assault and why. By enhancing your understanding of this complex issue, we aim to contribute to a more informed and empathetic society. This article will serve not just as a source of information but also as a call to action for all stakeholders involved, including sex crime lawyers, policymakers, educators, and every individual who stands against sexual violence.

Defining Sexual Assault

When we talk about sexual assault, we’re referring to a broad spectrum of unwanted sexual behaviors and actions. This term is often misunderstood or narrowly defined, so it’s crucial to clarify its breadth and implications.

The Legal Definition

Legally, sexual assault encompasses any non-consensual sexual activity. This includes a range of behaviors from touching and groping to rape. The key element here is the absence of consent. Consent must be freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic, and specific. Without it, any sexual act can be classified as assault.

Understanding Consent

Consent is at the heart of defining sexual assault. It’s not just about saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’; it’s about ensuring that all parties involved in a sexual act are fully agreeing and participating willingly. Consent cannot be assumed or coerced. It’s also important to note that consent can be withdrawn at any time during a sexual encounter.

Types of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is not limited to physical force or violence. It includes:

  • Rape: Forced sexual intercourse without consent.
  • Attempted Rape: An attempt to force someone into sexual intercourse.
  • Fondling or Unwanted Sexual Touching: Touching or groping without consent.
  • Sexual Coercion: Compelling someone to engage in sexual activity against their will, typically through threats or manipulation.
  • Sexual Harassment: Unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Impact on the Victim

The impact of sexual assault on victims can be profound and long-lasting. It affects not only their physical health but also their mental and emotional well-being. Victims may experience trauma, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other emotional difficulties.

Challenges in Reporting and Recognition

One of the significant challenges surrounding sexual assault is underreporting. Many victims do not report these crimes due to fear, shame, or the belief that they won’t be believed. This issue is compounded by societal stigmas and misconceptions about what constitutes sexual assault.

Psychological Factors

When it comes to understanding the motivations behind sexual assault, psychological factors play a significant role. It’s crucial to explore these factors not just for comprehending the actions of perpetrators, but also for developing effective prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

  • Power and Control

One of the primary psychological drivers behind sexual assault is the desire for power and control. Perpetrators often use sexual assault as a means to exert dominance over their victims. This need for control can stem from feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, or a history of being controlled themselves.

  • Aggression and Hostility

Aggression and hostility towards certain groups, often based on gender, sexuality, or race, can also contribute to the likelihood of someone committing sexual assault. These attitudes might be the result of cultural conditioning, personal experiences, or exposure to certain ideologies.

  • Entitlement and Sociopathy

Some perpetrators operate under a sense of entitlement, believing they have the right to access others’ bodies without consent. This belief can be associated with sociopathic tendencies, where there is a lack of empathy and disregard for the well-being of others.

  • Impulsivity and Poor Judgment

Impulsivity and a lack of judgment, often influenced by substance abuse or other factors, can lead to sexual assault. Individuals may act without considering the consequences of their actions or the harm they are inflicting on others.

  • Trauma and Past Abuse

Experiencing trauma or being a victim of abuse can sometimes play a role in the perpetrator’s psychology. While most victims of abuse do not become abusers, some may replicate the patterns of behavior they experienced or witnessed.

  • Normalization of Violence

In some cases, sexual assault is a learned behavior. If someone grows up in an environment where sexual violence is normalized or trivialized, they may be more likely to engage in such behavior themselves.

  • Mental Health Disorders

Certain mental health disorders can be associated with a higher risk of committing sexual assault. However, it’s important to note that mental illness is not a direct cause of sexual assault, and the vast majority of individuals with mental health issues do not commit sexual violence.

  • Cognitive Distortions

Perpetrators of sexual assault often exhibit cognitive distortions, like blaming the victim or minimizing the harm caused by their actions. These distorted thought patterns allow them to rationalize their behavior and avoid responsibility.

Societal Influences

The role of societal influences in shaping attitudes and behaviors related to sexual assault cannot be overstated. Various aspects of society, from cultural norms to media portrayals, contribute to the perpetuation and normalization of sexual violence.

  • Cultural Norms and Gender Stereotypes

Cultural norms and gender stereotypes play a significant role in shaping attitudes towards sex and consent. In many societies, aggressive or dominant behavior in men is often glorified, while submissive roles are traditionally assigned to women. These stereotypes can lead to a distorted understanding of consent and respect in sexual relationships.

  • Media Portrayal

Media, including movies, television shows, music, and online content, often portrays sexual relationships in a way that trivializes consent and romanticizes dominance. This can lead to misconceptions about what constitutes healthy sexual interactions and can normalize coercive or aggressive behavior.

  • Peer Influence and Socialization

Peer groups significantly influence individuals’ attitudes and behaviors. In environments where disrespectful or aggressive behavior towards others is normalized or even celebrated, there’s a higher risk of such behaviors manifesting as sexual assault.

  • Education and Awareness

The lack of comprehensive sex education in many schools contributes to misunderstandings about consent and healthy sexual relationships. Education systems that fail to address these topics adequately leave young people ill-equipped to navigate sexual encounters responsibly.

  • Legal and Institutional Responses

The way legal systems and institutions handle sexual assault cases can reflect and reinforce societal attitudes. Inadequate responses, victim-blaming attitudes in the legal process, and low conviction rates can send a message that sexual violence is not taken seriously.

  • Economic and Power Structures

Economic inequalities and power imbalances often play a role in sexual assault. Those in positions of power, whether in workplaces, educational institutions, or other settings, may exploit their status to commit sexual violence with impunity.

  • Social Media and Online Behavior

The rise of social media and online interactions has brought new dimensions to societal influences on sexual assault. Cyber harassment, the sharing of non-consensual explicit images, and online grooming are examples of how technology can facilitate sexual violence.

The Role of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse doesn’t cause sexual assault, but it can be a contributing factor. It can impair judgment and lower inhibitions, leading to an increased risk of committing or being subjected to sexual violence.

The Myth of Provocation

The myth of provocation is a pervasive and harmful belief that suggests victims of sexual assault provoke their attackers through their actions, appearance, or behavior. This notion is not only false but also contributes to victim-blaming and undermines the severity of the crime.

  • Understanding the Myth

The myth often revolves around the idea that certain behaviors or styles of dress can ‘invite’ or ‘trigger’ sexual assault. This could include wearing revealing clothing, flirting, or consuming alcohol. However, sexual assault is a deliberate act by the perpetrator, not a spontaneous loss of control provoked by the victim.

  • Impact on Victims

Believing in this myth can have devastating effects on victims. It can lead to self-blame, where victims feel responsible for the assault. This belief can hinder their recovery and discourage them from reporting the assault due to fear of not being believed or being blamed.

  • Changing the Narrative

Changing the narrative around sexual assault means emphasizing that no action, attire, or behavior ever justifies or provokes sexual violence. It involves shifting the focus to the perpetrators and their actions and reinforcing the message that sexual assault is always the fault of the assailant.


Sexual assault is not just an individual problem but a societal one, demanding a collective response. From legal experts like Los Angeles criminal attorneys to educators, healthcare professionals, and community leaders, everyone has a role to play in addressing and preventing sexual violence. As we move forward, it is imperative to continue raising awareness, challenging harmful stereotypes, and advocating for stronger legal measures to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

In essence, the fight against sexual assault is a fight for justice, dignity, and respect for all individuals. It’s a commitment to creating a world where such acts of violence are not just condemned but prevented. With the right combination of education, societal change, and legal expertise, we can hope for a safer, more respectful world for future generations.