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Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4768
Whether treatment programs are effective at rehabilitating rapists is yet to be determined empirically. From a scientist–practitioner perspective, treatment should be based on an empirical understanding of rape and rapists, and evidence-based knowledge of treatment outcome with rapists. In this paper we comprehensively review the characteristics of rapists, etiological features implicated in the commission of rape, and relevant treatment outcome research. We pay particular attention to contemporary knowledge about the core vulnerabilities and features required to understand and treat rapists effectively, and, where possible, highlight similarities and differences between rapists, child molesters and non-sexual violent offenders. We use an epistemological framework to (a) critique the various etiological accounts of rape available and (b) help guide professionals' use of such knowledge in both treatment design and evaluation. Gaps in the understanding of rapists' characteristics and etiological features are highlighted, as are discrepancies between current knowledge and treatment approaches. We conclude by highlighting areas for future research and practice innovation.