Perpetration of rape in the 21st century in the context of domestic violence

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Worcester

In Collaboration With

West Mercia Police

Principal Researcher

Sharon Avery

Level of Research


Project Start Date

January 2015

Research Context

​This research will examine the changing features of the perpetration of rape in the 21st Century and specifically how these changes impact upon the perpetration of rape in the context of domestic violence.
An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales (Home Office, 2013) estimated that between 60,000 and 95,000 rapes occurred annually and that ‘the most commonly reported victim-offender relationship was a partner or former partner’.
West Mercia Police crime reports for domestic related and new relationship rape offences over a ten year period, will be examined with a focus upon modus operandi and where available, the mens rea of the offending behaviour. The purpose is to identify any patterns in offending behaviour and emerging trends in order to inform and develop police practice in response.
The research will add knowledge to that which is already available by focusing upon domestic related rape suspects, regardless of prosecution outcome, considering also the potential social influencers upon offending behaviour.
Exposure to sexualised imagery and pornographic material may lead to increased negative stereotypes, the acceptance of rape myths, and, aggressive sexual behaviour (Dean and Malmuth, 1997).
This issue will be considered during the research particularly as young adults today are the internet generation and the first to have been exposed to pornography through this unregulated, freely accessible and anonymous medium during their most formative years.
Other issues will be considered when conducting this research including the potential impact of illicit drug use and excessive alcohol consumption on sexual offending and also features and patterns of lifestyle and social factors.
The aim is to identify patterns of behaviour and risk factors with regard to rape in the contect of domestic violence to inform professional practice.

Research Methodology

​The research will examine West Mercia Police data for Victim and Suspect/defendants of Rape/Attempt Rape within the context of domestic violence for years 2004/2005, 2009/2010 and 2013/2014 considering in tandem any identifiable influencing social factors of sexual offending.
This will include:

  • Suspect profiles and demographics
  • Domestic related rape characteristics between 2004 – 2014
  • Attitudes towards rape and rape victims
  • Identifiable risk factors including previous offending.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

June 2015
Return to Research Map