Be a Sexual Narcissist, Go to Jail

March 21, 2017

Thank goodness for Facebook, otherwise the police would have to work a lot harder to put sexual predators in jail. What used to be bragged about in a bar, “I grabbed her and did X, Y, and Z to her,” is now a tweet, a text, a blog subject, or a posting by the perpetrator, complete with accompanying cell phone photos of crime scenes, evidence, and unclothed body parts.

For the entitled sexual narcissist (save your Congressman Weiner remarks), who can’t wait to tell others about what he has done, the lure to reveal is made much easier by the growing collection of social media outlets. And so you ask, “Why would a man who engaged in a coercive sexual act against a woman tell the whole world?”

The short answer is he can’t help it; it’s in his nature. He has a desire to tell his tale, even if it brings the consequences of being caught. Stupidity is one part of it, certainly, but the definition of the sexual narcissist is a person who is self-centered, self-perceived as blameless, lacking insight as to his harm to others, and sadly, unlikely to change, even with therapeutic intervention.

Speak to any veteran sex crimes detective, and he or she will describe two types of sexual acts against women: one which is valid, a “real rape,” versus once that is a result of poor decision-making, known as a “regret case.” The former occurs when a woman was truly sexually assaulted against her will. The latter situation – which is not actually a rape at all – can happen when a woman engages in consensual sex with a man, and later comes to regret the event the next day. Examples include sex after too much drug or alcohol use at a party, “revenge sex” to get back at an uncaring boyfriend, or sex with a stranger while a husband is out of town or on a military deployment.

Unfortunately for police investigators, the efforts to determine which event occurred – real rape or regret case – takes equal amounts of time and energy to determine which was which.

So this is where the Internet can help police crack the case. Suspects who make social media postings about their behaviors, locations, possible witnesses, and even alibis, can be seen online and evaluated by detectives as true or not. Sometimes the victim’s statement and the suspect’s behavior line up, resulting in his necessary trip to prison. Sometimes there are holes in the victim’s story, which are revealed online too, and where the suspect is no longer a suspect, but an unwitting participant in an event that had two versions.

But a more maddening question might be, “Okay, I get why sexual narcissists brag about their victimizing exploits. But why do victims of sexual violence post what happened to them online?”

Perhaps the answer is found in the differences between the generations. What a 50-year-old female would take to her grave in shame and silence, a 20-year-old might likely post on her Facebook page. Victims of sexual assault who are younger and tech-hip, are surprisingly more likely to reveal what happened to them publicly. They may do this to serve as a warning to other women about a sexual predator that is known to their circle of friends. Or the victim is looking for support from her peers. Or the victim is rationalizing her behavior in the aftermath. For regret cases, these postings often start with, “I can’t believe what I did last night.” For real rape cases, the victim may say, “I can’t believe what happened to me last night.”

When it comes to technology and crime, consider this (strange but true) story. A 22-year-old woman is asleep on the couch at her friend’s beachside apartment in southern California. Her 23-year-old friend is asleep in the adjoining bedroom, with the door closed. In the wee hours, an intruder breaks in and stands over the woman on the couch and touches her leg. She wakes up to see him and immediately reaches for her cell phone. She quickly texts her friend in the other room that she needs help. Would you have done the same thing in that situation?

Let’s review. She did not call 911 for help; she did not scream for help; she did not jump up and run for the other room to get help. She texted a message to her friend for help. The friend got the text, because she slept with her cell phone too, and came running out. The bad guy fled and then they called the police.

The combined age of both women was 46. Would a 46-year-old woman use her cell phone to text a friend, in the same anxious situation? Generations appear to divide along technological lines.

Do the police need a search warrant to seize a person’s computer or cell phone and put them through thorough forensic exams? Of course. Does a police detective need a search warrant to sit in the comfort of his or her stationhouse office and look at a suspect’s Facebook, Twitter, or blog account? Of course not. The online information is public, accessible, and often quite informative.

Are people who engage in violent, coercive, or inappropriate sexual behavior stupid enough to admit their actions online? Yes, which can be bad for them and good for police, prosecutors, and ultimately, the victims.

People have always bragged about their exploits, legal or otherwise. Now they have a new forum, which is global, visual, immediate, historical, uncensored, (and uncensorable), to post their stories, actions, behaviors, opinions, and photos. But just because you can brag, doesn’t mean you should. Fortunately for the police and the victims of sex crimes they try to help, the entitled sexual narcissists in our world, they can’t help themselves.

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