This guide begins by describing the problem of sexual assault of women by strangers and reviewing factors that increase its risks. It then lists a series of questions to help you analyze your local sexual assault problem. Finally, it reviews responses to the problem and what is known about them from evaluative research and police practice.
Sexual assault of women by strangers is but one aspect of the larger set of sexual violence-related problems. This guide is limited to addressing the particular harms sexual assaults by strangers cause women.
Most offenders rape to satisfy their need for power and control, and they use various forced sexual acts to do so.1 In other words, the sexual act is the means, rather than the motive, for sexual assault. Although acquaintances commit most sexual assaults, this guide focuses on those that strangers commit. Contact between the victim and the offender is limited to when the assault occurs. Males commit nearly all sexual assaults, and most victims are female.2 Both males and females sometimes sexually assault males, but very little research discusses male victims. Thus this guide focuses only on female victims.