sexual homicides and the many things that can be related to them. Using two books, the author of this paper details the meaning of many terms including pyromania, necrophilia and paraphilia. Each of the terms is described and discussed in its relation to sex crimes, or lack of criteria for prosecution for sex crimes. Many people relate the term sexual deviancy to criminal behavior. This paper separates criminal behavior from simple deviant behavior and holds them against each other for comparisons.
DEVIANCE AND DEATH
Sexual homicides are one of the scariest things that we face in life. Every so often we hear the news that someone has committed sex crimes, or sex murders in our area, or the areas of our loved ones, and it sends shivers up our spines. We often wonder what causes someone to commit such violent acts of anger against another human being. Though we don't like violence in any venue, we can comprehend crimes of self-defense, or an argument gone badly. Try as we might, we will never be able to understand how someone can get any pleasure from committing sex crimes and murders. Sex crimes and sex criminals are not all alike. There are many different manifestations of the need to commit lewd sexual conduct and there are sometimes fine lines as to when that behavior becomes criminal. One thing that has been established, sex homicide and sex crimes are never about love. They are about anger, power and rage. The better we understand the various behaviors and desires, the more able we are to prevent them from being committed by being able to target certain behaviors and attitudes as possibly dangerous.
There have been many books and studies on the sexual predator and behaviors that accompany them. Robert Ressler, Ann Burgess and John Douglas wrote Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives in 1998. In addition, Ronald Holmes penned Sex Crimes in 1991. Both books explore the patterns, problems and behaviors of sexual criminals. They look at the why, the when, and the surrounding events, in the effort to better understand the criminal and perhaps provide insight to their world so that they are more easily discovered and caught. In the world of serial sex murder investigations, there are many terms that the average person will never hear. Terms like peraphilia, necrophilia., pyromania, and others are routinely tossed around during investigations and projections. Understanding what these terms mean and the personality traits, which accompany them, gives us a better view of sex criminals and their thought patterns.
Before we can examine the reason for lust crimes themselves, it is important to fully understand some of the terms that are common in the field. Paraphilia is a term used to refer to sexual acts, behaviors or feelings that are directed at not consenting human beings. The term can refer to one who violates animals or it can refer to humans but the humans must be no consenting. Many times, the acts must involve the suffering of one or both parties to fall under this term. While some lewd behaviors only impact the person committing the behavior, this particular term has a significant impact on the victims as well as the perpetrator. The act of rape, the forced engagement of pain during sexual overtures, even if they do not include penetration falls under this term (Ressler, 1995). The most common characteristics of a person, who practices this type of deviant behavior, are an angry person who has a need to feel powerful and important. Targeting victims provide some sense of empowerment for the perpetrator, as does the act itself. While the majority of the population would not condone this type of behavior, the act itself being completed does not always constitute criminal behavior. If two parties are consenting, then no crime has been committed. An example of this term being brought to fruition without a crime being committed would be the occasional sexual preference for being choked while engaging in sex. The choking is not supposed to be taken to death, but it is taken close enough to cause excitement for those who like to practice paraphilia. Because one of both participants suffer at the hands of each other, the term applies, however, because each partner is a willing participant no crime is being committed. This is one of the rare times that it is not a criminal behavior. It does however become a criminal behavior in the event of rape, or bestiality or child molestation and other examples (Holmes, 1991). According to the diagnostic criteria, the person can have more than one paraphilia that excites them.
In the act of necrophilia, the participant develops an erotic fixation of sexual behaviors with corpses of people. The type of person who has this fascination is often shy and not in possession of high self-esteem. The act of necrophilia is a crime because it is illegal to engage in non-consensual sex acts, and a person who is deceased does not have the ability to consent. However, the obsession and fascination with necrophilia is not a crime. They can be thoughts, desires and fantasies. As long as the line is not crossed into acts of necrophilia, no crime has been committed (Holmes, 1991).
The act of infibulations is an interesting term because of its broad based allow ability when it comes to criminality laws. The act itself is the mutilation of the female genitals. We often hear of this being done to females of certain cultures and it is an accepted practice in their societies.
"Fortuna's daughter did not come to the playgroup that morning. The little girl had a fever and pain when urinating. The mother, a refugee from Somalia, brought her daughter to the doctor at the refugee center in the Netherlands (Sarwono, 2000). The examining doctor discovered that this four-year-old girl had an infection in her genitals, as was the result of circumcision that was performed when she was a baby. Indeed, all the women in Fortuna's family were circumcised following the tradition practiced by almost all Somali women and by millions of others living in Africa and in the Middle East. Female circumcision is a serious problem among these women. The procedure, in which all or part of the external genital organs of women is removed, is detrimental to their physical and psychological health (Sarwono, 2000). "
While the practice is extremely controversial and has been gaining publicity worldwide, the criminality of the act is not always clear-cut. There have been cases in the U.S., where this act has been performed. While a rapist mutilating his victims is unquestionably illegal, the case of the willing participant for societal beliefs from their homeland is not so clear-cut. Anytime a victim is brutalized in this manner against her will, a crime has been committed. In addition, in this country performing such an act on a minor female is child abuse in the eyes of the law, but is not crossed over into a sex crime . When it is performed in other nations however, it is not always against the law, and while we may find it shocking and demoralizing for females to undergo they are not protected in their own nation by law if the willingly participate.
This is one of the very few sex crime acts that also cross into the acceptable religious realm for millions of family's world wide each year. "Female circumcision is a very old custom, believed to stem from Islam, although various studies indicate that this tradition dates back as far as the time of the Pharaohs, centuries before Christ (Sarwono, 2000). "
Autoeroticism is a term that is used when one is sexually aroused without any concrete outside known stimulation. People can fall into this category without knowing what it is that excites them. This is not a criminal act unless they decide to act on those desires in a criminal manner, such as rape, voyeurism or other acts of sexual lewdness without consent. Another meaning of the term is that one fulfills one's own sexual desires exclusively, which of course is not criminal.
Pyromania has been linked for many years to sexual dysfunction. The actual term means setting fires without compensation or permission. Years ago research uncovered the sexual foundation that triggers pyromania and today it is common knowledge that pyromaniacs have extreme sexual dysfunction and get some type of sexual satisfaction from the act of setting fires. While it is a definite deviant behavior it is not always a criminal act (Ressler, 1995). If the pyromaniac sets fire within legal guidelines there is no crime committed. Unfortunately the ability for arousal for a pyromaniac is often dependent on the setting of fires illegally and the staying around to watch the ensuing drama. They report that they have ejaculation while watching the events unfold (Holmes, 1991).
In the book Sexual Homicide, the authors take the reader on an exploratory journey of many of these terms and their manifestations…