Justifying sexual assault: Anonymous perpetrators speak out online.

Tracy N. Hipp, Alexandra L. Bellis, Bradley L. Goodnight, Carolyn L. Brennan, Kevin M. Swartout, Sarah L. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective: Researchers rarely have an opportunity to study first-person narratives of sexual assault perpetration. Because of a prompt anonymously posted to a popular online community, we were able to examine perpetrators' own descriptions of, and justifications for, sexual assault. Method: Thematic analysis was conducted on a sample of 68 anonymous first-person accounts of sexual assault perpetration collected from Reddit.com. Results: Themes focus on sexual scripts, victim blame, hostile sexism, biological essentialism, objectification, and sociosexuality. Relationships among these themes are described. Conclusion: We contextualize our findings in the empirical literature on sexual assault and in earlier related feminist theory. Our goal is to use these novel data to further inform research and prevention efforts, making recommendations for policy and clinical efforts such as clinical intervention with perpetrators to decrease cognitive distortions of blame.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-90
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • online data
  • perpetration
  • perpetrator justifications
  • rape
  • sexual assault


Dive into the research topics of 'Justifying sexual assault: Anonymous perpetrators speak out online.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this