(Originally published on March 17, 2014; updated on September 8, 2015.)
Update: Reporting Year: 2014
According to the CDC:
• In a nationally representative survey of adults,
37.4% of female rape victims were first raped
between ages 18-24.
• In a study of undergraduate women, 19%
experienced attempted or completed sexual
assault since entering college.
As students and parents prepare for the new college semester, we find it necessary to give a heads up to students and their parents regarding the relatively old (but newly reformatted) threat that has always existed for those taking their first steps into the real world of living away from home, on or near campus; that of campus sexual assault.
In the past several years, we’ve experienced a sharp rise in cases involving a very target-specific type of sexual and emotional abuser; one who focuses his attention on college students. The campus predator.
Unlike your garden variety slime of sexual offenders, the campus predator is not focused on seeking multiple sexual assault victims. Instead, he selects one from “the herd” of students whom he has studied and has decided that this “special one” has the resources to enable his lifestyle.
Physically, he is older (mid to late 20s, early 30s), often poorly educated (but presents with a broad, if not in-depth- knowledge base), with a low income, emotionally stunted in adolescence, sexually promiscuous and with no tangible future plans other than to live through his potential victim’s resources. (In other words, her family’s assets.)
Personality-wise, the campus predator is a narcissist, supports delusions of grandeur and possesses a sense of entitlement. He strives to appear well-educated, uses his family (parents, siblings…) as props to give the appearance of having a normal family life and disguises his true predatory goals as ambition.
His actions are planned; a grooming process. He often does things to “set up” a potential victim to determine his ability to manipulate her. Grooming behavior is designed to try to get the potential victim interested in the predator and to gauge the potential victim’s responses to his advances, which become increasingly sexual and sexually deviant in nature. Grooming is part of a process that predators undertake to manipulate and then isolate their targets. This process can involve threats, emotional abuse, coercive acts to determine the victim’s “loyalty” and will almost always involve alcohol and drugs – with or without the victim’s knowledge and or permission. The four F’s of a campus predator are Friendship, Fantasy, Fear, and Force.
How to spot a campus predator: (for parents):
1. Your child is suddenly in a new relationship that appears to be advancing too quickly. (He’s generally more sexually sophisticated and this often gives the young college student a false read of being in love. Biochemically, a strong physical attraction does engage but it is one-sided. The predator is, after all, incapable of a true relationship, given his halted emotional growth.)
2. He rapidly and methodically befriends your daughter’s friends. (He is trying to control her information sources.) He will then proceed to analyze each for weaknesses (drug use, sexual orientation, ego issues…) and systemically lop off those friends he cannot manipulate. The weaker-willed friends he will draw into compromising situations.
3. He tries to ingratiate himself to the parents. He will try to learn everything he can about the potential victim’s family, appearing to be interested but actually looking for the “family secrets”. If rejected by the parents/family, he initiates a divide and conquer effort; in essence pitting the child v. the parent (already engaged in a natural struggle for separation and formation of a separate new adult) and places himself in the position of being “the only one who understands” her.
4. New as your college student child may be to alcohol and drug intake, he will ensure that those dis-inhibitors gain entry into your child’s chemistry. While under the influence (and possibly even blanked from the young victim’s memory), he will have her engage in sexual activity that he records. (Possibly future extortive efforts.)
5. Given that he has no ability to plan a true future, he pushes the relationship to exclusivity and towards engagement/marriage in a very rapid time frame; generally within a matter of months.
6. If all else fails to “secure the deal”, he will attempt to impregnate his perceived conquest, who, by now, is basically afraid or so committed to this dangerous relationship that this plan may be with her active planning, to ensure the parent’s capitulation.
How to spot a campus predator (for university managers and security):
1. He is generally an older male. He usually attempts to make himself look younger (very clean-shaven, wearing youthful clothing, his speech includes the most current slang/colloquial usage…)
2. Frequents college bars.
3. Is often noted buying drinks for college students.
4. Seems to be the “go-to” guy for students experimenting with adult entertainment or drugs.
5. Employ common sense. If every weekend, an older non-student is hanging out at the college bars and there is considerable activity occurring around him (hard-drinking, many visits outside or to the rest rooms to sell/buy drugs – two or three guys going to the men’s room together are not going there in an attempt to quietly discuss the first round NFL draft picks), observe and investigate.
Finally for the most vulnerable, the actual young college students themselves:
1. Be it one friend or an entire sorority that has your back, don’t allow yourself to become separated on a consistent basis from them by an “outsider”. Do not allow yourself to be isolated from family and friends.
2. Keep the lines of communication with your parents or other trusted older adults open. They’ve experienced more than you have and often, the advice given (and that’s all it is, you will eventually have to make your own decisions) is simply something you may not have thought of as it’s not part of your frame of reference.
3. If it’s too good to be true… you know the rest. There is no rush to be married or have children at 18 or 22. Stay focused on your life goals and achieving them in a reasonable time frame.
We as a society need to work as a whole to ensure the safety of all of its members, particularly those that are perfect fodder for conscience-challenged predators. If your child, friend, sibling… exhibits new, alarming behavior, check her most recent influences. The campus predator will usually stand out, red flags flapping like a wind-sock in a tornado.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.