Personality Traits of Rapists, Abusers, and Criminals

This information comes from my friend Marc “Animal” MacYoung.  A talented and prolific author, his work has changed the way I look at self defense.  This document is handed out to everyone that attends one of my self defense seminars.

Personality Traits of Rapists, Abusers, and Criminals


While there are others, these behaviors are serious indicators of a potential rapist or abuser. This short list should acquaint you with the basics. Not all men are rapists, but a person like this has a higher probability than others. You not only find these traits among rapists and abusers, but also professional criminals.  Philosophically there is little difference between such, they are all selfish. Most often it is just a matter of degrees, style and choice of victims.

Danger signs

1) Insensitivity for others/emphasis on self – Does this person put his wants above the needs, feelings or well being of others? Is getting his way more important to him than other people’s welfare? Often this can go beyond mere selfishness and border nearly on an “assumed divine right.” Often these people will justify a particularly vicious action with a flip comment like, “Hey, that’s how the game is played.” Such a person has no understanding that he must co-exist with others. Because he simply exists he thinks the world “owes” him whatever he wants. A common tactic of such a person it to make you feel bad for not doing what he wants.

2) Belittling behavior or attitudes towards others – Does this person habitually make nasty, belittling or degrading comments about others – especially under the guise of joking? Does this person think he is better than others? Does he look down on others? A nouveau riche aristocrat? Is he a racist? A person who thinks that race or social position makes him superior can also assume gender does too. When you think you are superior, an assumed right to ‘take’ what you want often follows.

3) Negating behavior or comments – Closely related to 1 and 2. Does he try to tell you what you are feeling or thinking? Or worse, tell you what you are not? Comments like “you don’t really mean that” are serious indicators of someone trying to negate you. A person who negates others is trying to take away the other person’s thoughts, feelings and needs and attempting to project his wants onto that person. The most obvious example of this is “Well even though she said ‘no’, she really meant ‘yes’”.

4) Hostile and/or threatening language – What words does a person use? Choice of words conveys subconscious assumptions about a particular topic. For example a man who generically refers to women as “bitches” does not have good assumptions about females (or much respect). It is all too easy to dismiss this behavior as just “blowing off steam.” But if it is a constant behavior, it goes far beyond that. Someone who habitually uses violent or threatening language should be carefully watched for possible escalation. It’s on his mind already. It’s an uncomfortably short step from ‘thinking about’ to ‘doing’.

5) Bullying – This behavior is especially dangerous. Does this person use overt or subtle threats to get his way? A bully uses the threat of violence more than actual violence. Most often bullies are not willing to risk conflict with someone who can hurt them (an alpha male), and will instead chose to intimidate someone he considers weaker and safer. Someone who is bullying over other matters can easily turn to bullying you regarding sex.

6) Excessive anger – How easy does this person anger? Is he a “Short Fuse”? Does he boil over at the slightest problem? This is an indication of chronic anger. A person who explodes over a minor issue is like a full pot boiling over on the stove. It’s not that the issue is all that important, but that he has so much anger already; any more causes him to explode. Often people with chronic anger look for targets to vent their anger at. This could manifest as physical fights, abuse, or rape.

7) Brooding/ revenge – Does this person hang onto his anger long after the situation is over? Will he still be stewing over something while everyone else has moved onto other things? Will he become anti-social and glare at the source of his anger from across the room? Will he insist on taking revenge for real or imagined slights? Both indicate a petty and obsessive personality. A brooder fixates on something and then works himself into frenzy over it. A person who seeks revenge “has to win” and is willing to take it to extremes. Refusing such a person’s sexual advances can turn this tendency towards you.

8 ) Obsession – This is a close cousin to number seven. It is a major factor with acquaintance rapes. This is the person who won’t leave you alone. He insists on ‘hitting on you’ long after you have told him no. He is always trying to establish forced intimacy (see bonding processes below). Such obsessions easily turn into anger when his advances are rejected. One day he shows up in a fringe area, drunk and attacks.

9) Extreme mood swings – Beware someone who can go from wildly happy to deeply wound at a moment’s notice. This sort of personality can feel justified to commit an unlimited amount of violence and damage, because you “hurt his feelings.” This is a common pattern among those with chronic anger about life.

10) Physical tantrums – How does this person get angry? Especially when denied “getting his way”. Beware of a person who regularly physically assaults his environment i.e. hitting walls, kicking things etc. It is only a short step from striking a car to attacking you.

11) Jock or gorilla mentality – This mentality promotes both acceptance and encouragement for the use of violence. It is especially common among participants of contact sports. What is most insidious about this mentality is the “jock” receives not only positive reinforcement, but out-and-out applause for being aggressive and violent. This can easily lead to a failure to differentiate between the playing field and real life. Mike Tyson’s comment is a prime example: “Nobody ever objected before.”

12) A mean drunk – Nearly all rape and abuse cases involve alcohol. Watch what surfaces when someone is intoxicated. It shows what is always lurking underneath. Do not put yourself into a situation where you would deal with such a person while he is intoxicated. Most importantly, don’t allow your facilities to be diminished by alcohol or drugs in this person’s presence.

13) Alcohol or drug abuse – To begin with drug and alcohol addiction can be traced back to selfishness and a refusal to change one’s world view. Alcohol and drugs are not the cause of bad behavior; rather they are used as an excuse! Often the attacker intentionally became intoxicated to ignore the social restrictions and inhibitions regarding violence.

(Source:  Marc MacYoung

5 thoughts on “Personality Traits of Rapists, Abusers, and Criminals

  1. I know this man. I was married to him for 30 years. I knew he was mean, I just didn’t know what else he was. After giving him MORE than half my life I am left alone, devastated, bewildered, in shock, numb, and wondering what in the hell happened!?


  2. The first four traits are behaviors that normal human beings exhibit. It’s healthy to have self interest, and it’s also important to not allow your emotions to overwhelm rationality. Simply put, you can care too much to the point that you wind up devaluing yourself, or you can get angry and make rash decisions.

    We are not immune to our emotions, and anger is an emotion. People get mad, and that’s okay. When we get mad, we can find ourselves doing things we’d otherwise avoid doing, such as cursing or laying unrealistic blame. When someone is angry, they need to be allowed to be angry. Afterward, when tempers have cooled, self-reflection, and the identification of mistakes begins. This ultimately leads to an apologetic frame of mind. This is not something to demonize. This list is equating normal human behavior, to the characteristics of a criminal.

    I would also like to point out that there are people who just push your buttons. You end up losing respect for them, and thinking less of them. This is a good thing too, as it teaches you individual what you do and do not like, and teaches you to be a better judge of character. This also contributes to building healthy relationship strategies.

    I would like to express that this does not mean that criminals do not exhibit these behaviors, as they are human. However, the ways criminally unstable individuals exhibit these behaviors are well beyond the threshold of realistic proportionality.


  3. Alec , I have no argument with your statements, however I would point out the title of this list also includes “abusers”. There can be a very thin line between anger and inappropriate manifestation of that anger. I’ve written quite a bit about abusive relationships.
    As to pushing buttons. I happen to think that those individuals that deliberately push buttons bear some responsibility for the outcome. Many people may want to tar and feather me for that but there it is. I’ve been on the receiving end of someone that did that and I saw now easy it would be to totally lose it. That being said. I recognized what was comb on and left the premises.
    Now take a look at the list with the filter of being in an emotionally abusive relationship.


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