An Exploration of Sexual Violence Reduction for Effective Altruism Potential

Sex­ual vi­o­lence is an im­por­tant hu­man rights is­sue. It’s im­por­tant be­cause it poses a sig­nifi­cant risk of suici­dal be­hav­ior, be­cause it causes a lot of suffer­ing, and be­cause sex offen­ders can dras­ti­cally re­duce other peo­ple’s progress to­ward their goals.

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­ceives a lot of at­ten­tion, but at­ten­tion is not the same as tak­ing effec­tive ac­tion. Level of at­ten­tion is a heuris­tic we can use to quickly lo­cate ar­eas where the most effec­tive op­tions haven’t been ap­plied yet, but heuris­tics are an im­perfect method. We will miss things if heuris­tics are all that we use. Sex­ual vi­o­lence is very com­pli­cated, there are a lot of com­mon myths about it, and it’s hard to rea­son about such an up­set­ting topic. After spend­ing hun­dreds of hours read­ing re­search, I’m con­cerned that too few peo­ple un­der­stand sex­ual vi­o­lence well enough to seek out and use the most effec­tive op­tions. When I learned more, I saw that it is worth eval­u­at­ing for effec­tive al­tru­ism po­ten­tial. The amount of im­pact looks huge, and mul­ti­ple op­tions are worth try­ing.

Th­ese figures might sur­prise you: un­for­tu­nately, sex­ual vi­o­lence is very com­mon. Figures from the Cen­ter for Disease Con­trol show that 36.3% of women and 17.1% of men in the US have been sex­u­ally as­saulted. [1] Part of this com­mon­ness is the difficulty of catch­ing the offen­ders due to stigma and in­suffi­cient ev­i­dence. Us­ing figures from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, RAINN showed that the ma­jor­ity of sex offen­ders walk free. [2] A meta-anal­y­sis of un­re­ported rape stud­ies found that 6% of men are un­de­tected rapists [12] (and there doesn’t ap­pear to be a study with the per­centage of women who are un­de­tected rapists). It can be hard for sex­ual vi­o­lence sur­vivors to talk about sex­ual vi­o­lence. A lot of what hap­pens ends up hid­den.

I es­ti­mated var­i­ous quan­tities re­lated to im­pact in­clud­ing: the num­ber of sex­u­ally vi­o­lent peo­ple in EA, the num­ber of lives that can be saved, the amount of pro­duc­tivity cur­rently be­ing lost, the effect on move­ment build­ing, the effect on di­ver­sity /​ po­ten­tial for dis­ad­van­tage re­duc­tion, and suffer­ing re­duc­tion. The amount of im­pact at stake is high.

I eval­u­ated nine­teen sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion op­tions and in­cluded rele­vant re­search in the tractabil­ity sec­tion.

I also ad­dressed the ques­tion of whether this is a ne­glected area. William MacAskill said in “Do­ing Good Bet­ter” that “If a spe­cific area has already re­ceived a great deal of fund­ing and at­ten­tion, then we should ex­pect it to be difficult to do a lot of good by de­vot­ing ad­di­tional re­sources to that area. In con­trast, within causes that are com­par­a­tively ne­glected, the most effec­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties for do­ing good have prob­a­bly not been taken.” [13] Be­cause no EA had pre­vi­ously done work to iden­tify the most effec­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­duce sex­ual vi­o­lence in effec­tive al­tru­ism, this should prob­a­bly be con­sid­ered ne­glected un­til the most effec­tive ac­tions have been taken. Due to time con­straints, I wasn’t able to fully eval­u­ate ne­glect­ed­ness on a global scale, but I have a spe­cific con­cern about this which I de­tailed in the ne­glect­ed­ness sec­tion.

There is po­ten­tial for an ex­cel­lent cost-benefit ra­tio be­tween the nec­es­sary time in­vest­ment and the re­sults that are pos­si­ble. It is worth con­sid­er­ing in­vest­ing more re­sources into sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion.

In-net­work sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion is very likely to be an effec­tive al­tru­ism cause as a high-lev­er­age way to pro­tect EAs, in­crease effec­tive al­tru­ism di­ver­sity, job satis­fac­tion and pro­duc­tivity, as a way to re­duce the tal­ent short­age by re­tain­ing more em­ploy­ees and vol­un­teers, and as a way to at­tract more peo­ple and grow the move­ment. Out­side of the effec­tive al­tru­ism net­work, sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion has po­ten­tial to be an effec­tive al­tru­ism cause through sav­ing lives, suffer­ing re­duc­tion, dis­ad­van­tage re­duc­tion, and by in­creas­ing pro­duc­tivity but more re­search is needed to fur­ther ex­plore EA po­ten­tial on a global scale. Of the nine­teen meth­ods ex­plored, there are two meth­ods that have the po­ten­tial to scale globally.

(Note: For those that are un­fa­mil­iar, there are some con­cerns about so­cial sci­ence re­search which I had to work around. For in­stance, the repli­ca­tion crisis, the con­cerns cov­ered in “Statis­tics Done Wrong”, and the var­i­ous is­sues iden­ti­fied by John Ioan­ni­dis. To ad­dress these con­cerns, I found mul­ti­ple re­view ar­ti­cles and meta-analy­ses wher­ever pos­si­ble. If I couldn’t find any, I looked for as many stud­ies as I could find and in­cluded them all.

This method is not perfect. For in­stance, Ioan­ni­dis has warned about some spe­cific vuln­er­a­bil­ities in meta-analy­ses and re­view ar­ti­cles. There re­ally is not a way to cre­ate a perfect re­search based ar­ti­cle, es­pe­cially not while cov­er­ing this much ground at the same time. It is sim­ply too com­pli­cated. There wasn’t a perfect method for me to use any­way.

I could have cho­sen to do noth­ing be­cause the re­search is flawed. I de­cided that the sub­ject is too im­por­tant to ig­nore. I de­cided not to make the perfect the en­emy of the good and I made the best of it.)

(Note: The be­lief that most effec­tive al­tru­ists care about sex­ual vi­o­lence is not in ques­tion. Many peo­ple, in­clud­ing effec­tive al­tru­ists, do not have a strong aware­ness of how much risk there is, how much im­pact is at stake or which ac­tions have the best chance to suc­ceed. Ad­di­tion­ally, some peo­ple are not aware of the amount of lev­er­age that is pos­si­ble. Aware­ness about these ar­eas needs to be raised.)

Table of Con­tents:

Ar­ti­cle Scope:

In-net­work sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion vs. global sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion.


Es­ti­mat­ing the num­ber of sex­u­ally vi­o­lent peo­ple.

  • Why we should not as­sume that effec­tive al­tru­ism re­pels sex offenders

  • About 6% of men are rapists and an un­known per­centage of women.

  • A rough es­ti­mate of rapists in EA.

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion as a life saver

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion as suffer­ing reduction

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion for di­ver­sity and dis­ad­van­tage reduction

  • Com­par­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence rates by gender

  • Greatly mul­ti­plied risk to women due to the gen­der ra­tio in EA

  • Gay and bi­sex­ual peo­ple have around twice the sex­ual vi­o­lence risk

  • List of spe­cific dis­ad­van­tages that EA women, bi­sex­u­als and ho­mo­sex­u­als face

Po­ten­tial of sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion to pre­vent pro­duc­tivity loss

  • The low estimate

  • The high estimate

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion as part of move­ment building

  • The male sex offen­ders stud­ied are shock­ingly prolific

  • Sex offen­ders in­crease turnover in workplaces

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion for law­suit prevention


Global ne­glect­ed­ness:

  • Ex­pect­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence to leave enough ev­i­dence pre­vents solv­ing it.

The main challenges in eval­u­at­ing ne­glect­ed­ness in our net­work:

  • Sur­vivor­ship bias makes gath­er­ing num­bers tricky

  • Most sex offences are not reported

  • An al­ter­na­tive: fo­cus­ing on whether we could be more effective

Ob­ser­va­tions about sex­ual vi­o­lence in the EA network

  • A list for in­for­ma­tional pur­poses only (please take no dras­tic ac­tions)

Effec­tive sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion isn’t an EA fo­cus yet


The key obstacle

Alter­na­tive sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion op­tions explored

  • Look for work qual­ity is­sues.

  • Keep an eye on sus­pected offen­ders for other forms of mis­be­hav­ior.

  • Look into set­ting up a sting op­er­a­tion (sex offen­ders are of­ten crim­i­nal gen­er­al­ists).

  • Strike a bal­ance be­tween dis­miss­ing ac­cu­sa­tions and witch-hunt­ing peo­ple.

  • Create a ro­bust sex offen­der de­tec­tion strat­egy.

  • Help solve male-fe­male re­la­tions is­sues.

  • Help min­i­mize sex­ual vi­o­lence risk fac­tors through­out your so­cial net­work.

  • En­courage care­ful think­ing and learn­ing about cer­tain sex­ual be­hav­iors.

  • View less se­ri­ous sex­ual as­saults like grop­ing as a se­cu­rity heuris­tic.

  • Learn self-defence, pro­mote self-defence, and/​or offer self-defence ed­u­ca­tion.

  • Offer a pre­ven­tion pro­gram.

  • En­courage sex offen­ders to seek help if you can do so safely.

  • Do more re­search on sex­ual vi­o­lence treat­ment.

  • En­courage or host dry events and par­ties.

  • If ap­pro­pri­ate, con­sider hav­ing the ac­cused work from home.

  • Cen­tral­ize re­ports so that sur­vivors can ally with each other.

  • Help re­place stereo­types about sex­ual vi­o­lence situ­a­tions with real in­for­ma­tion.

  • Ob­ject to pres­sure to go to pri­vate and se­cluded ar­eas alone or with some­one.

  • Join EAs and Ra­tion­al­ists Against Abuse (ERAA) on Face­book.



Ar­ti­cle Scope:

In-net­work sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion vs. global sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion.

Sex­ual vi­o­lence is a hu­man rights is­sue all over the world, caus­ing prob­lems on mul­ti­ple lev­els. Some of the sec­tions in this ar­ti­cle are limited to in-net­work sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion be­cause of the ex­treme cost of quan­tify­ing and scal­ing on a global level. For in­stance, the amount of sex­ual vi­o­lence risk varies by coun­try, some­times by a lot. Con­sider the ab­hor­rent treat­ment of women in Afghanistan and the un­usu­ally bad prison rape situ­a­tion in Rus­sia. The amount of var­i­ance could be quite high. There are 200 coun­tries in the world. A good es­ti­mate of the amount of sex­ual vi­o­lence risk pre­sent in all 200 coun­tries would re­quire an en­tire ar­ti­cle of its own. It is nec­es­sary to quan­tify the amount of sex­ual vi­o­lence in each coun­try in or­der to quan­tify im­pacts like lives lost, suffer­ing, etc. Quan­tify­ing all the im­pacts re­quires ad­di­tional ar­ti­cles.

Another no­table differ­ence be­tween large and small scale sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion is that most of the meth­ods that have a chance to get good re­sults can only be used to ban the offen­der from a par­tic­u­lar or­ga­ni­za­tion or group. There is no way to ban them from the en­tire world. The meth­ods that do have some po­ten­tial to scale globally are:

  • St­ing op­er­a­tions to catch offen­ders, if they re­sult in in­car­cer­a­tion.* (This might be made to work with­out risk­ing sex­ual trau­mas to the sting op­er­a­tion staff. See the tractabil­ity sec­tion.)

  • Find­ing a cure for sex­ual vi­o­lence and a way to per­suade sex offen­ders to use it. (It might be eas­ier than you’d think to per­suade them. See the tractabil­ity sec­tion.)

Un­for­tu­nately, there just isn’t enough in­for­ma­tion on these two meth­ods to make global level es­ti­mates yet. Good re­searchers need to be hired. Re­search fund­ing is needed. I am not qual­ified to do this re­search by my­self, though I’d be happy to get in­volved. I hope the in­for­ma­tion I in­cluded in this ar­ti­cle is use­ful to peo­ple in­ter­ested in in­vest­ing in re­search on these meth­ods. Feel free to con­tact me through the effec­tive al­tru­ism fo­rum or Face­book if you’re in­ter­ested in do­ing large scale sex­ual vi­o­lence risk re­duc­tion.

* Due to the high rate of prison rape, in­creas­ing the rate of in­car­cer­a­tion for a given coun­try may not re­duce the sex­ual vi­o­lence rate on net in that coun­try.


Es­ti­mat­ing the num­ber of sex­u­ally vi­o­lent peo­ple.

Why we should not as­sume that effec­tive al­tru­ism re­pels sex offen­ders:

Effec­tive al­tru­ism prob­a­bly at­tracts more al­tru­ists, but does it re­pel sex offen­ders? Four things to con­sider:

1.) It ap­pears com­mon for peo­ple to be­lieve that sex offen­ders are never em­pa­thetic or al­tru­is­tic. Peo­ple also seem to be­lieve that al­tru­is­tic and em­pa­thetic peo­ple never com­mit sex offences. Ac­cord­ing to stud­ies, rapists demon­strated more em­pa­thy than other types of crim­i­nals [14], how­ever rapists have em­pa­thy defic­its speci­fi­cally to­ward their vic­tims [14][15] and have higher hos­tility to­ward women. [15] Rapists may have a com­pa­rable amount of em­pa­thy to oth­ers. [16] How can this be? “It is sug­gested that em­pa­thy defic­its in rapists might bet­ter be con­strued as cog­ni­tive dis­tor­tions spe­cific to their vic­tims.” [14] Essen­tially, rapists have ir­ra­tional think­ing pat­terns that seem to se­lec­tively sab­o­tage em­pa­thy for their vic­tims. Be­ing ca­pa­ble of em­pa­thy isn’t ev­ery­thing a hu­man needs to be­have well. We also need to think clearly enough to avoid prej­u­dices and mi­s­un­der­stand­ings so that we can em­pathise with ev­ery­one in each situ­a­tion.

2.) There have been some in­ci­dents in the EA so­cial net­work which sug­gest that hav­ing more effec­tive sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion meth­ods would be an im­prove­ment for EA. For anonymized ex­am­ples, see the ne­glect­ed­ness sec­tion.

3.) Some sex offen­ders are mas­ters of de­cep­tion. “The first au­thor in­ter­viewed one sex offen­der who re­ported that he had used news­pa­per re­ports of his re­lease (in­clud­ing an old news­pa­per pho­to­graph of his face) as the pre­text by which he en­tered into con­ver­sa­tions about sex with new vic­tims. Many sex offen­ders have his­to­ries of us­ing demon­stra­tions of “good touches” and “bad touches” to en­ter into sex­u­ally in­ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tivi­ties with chil­dren. One of the most no­to­ri­ous sadis­tic pe­dophile mur­der­ers of all time, John Wayne Gacey, worked in dis­guise as a clown.”—“Myths and Mis­con­cep­tions about Sex Offen­ders” [18] One of my two EA sex offen­ders was both stealthy in com­mit­ting his offence and cun­ning in cov­er­ing it up with a smear­ing at­tack af­ter­wards. Some sex offen­ders are not par­tic­u­larly strate­gic. Many rapists are drunk at the time of the offence. Some are op­por­tunis­tic and take ad­van­tage of time and place. Mul­ti­ple types of sex offen­ders ex­ist. We may not have a com­plete list of differ­ent types yet. It’s not safe to as­sume that any type of sex offen­der will sim­ply leave al­tru­ists alone.

Ex­ploita­tive peo­ple may ac­tu­ally pre­fer effec­tive al­tru­ists as tar­gets be­cause many of them are young, so more likely to be naive. They would find it eas­ier to tar­get us if we tend to trust other group mem­bers more. We might trust peo­ple too much be­cause a lot of peo­ple think that al­tru­ism and crim­i­nal be­hav­ior are mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. Ad­di­tion­ally, al­tru­ists may be more gen­er­ous or for­giv­ing, so highly self­ish and ex­ploita­tive peo­ple may par­tic­u­larly seek us out. Psy­chopaths are known for their charm and for their abil­ity to blend in. Date rapists are known for en­tic­ing peo­ple to go on a date and then spik­ing their drink or lur­ing them into a se­cluded lo­ca­tion. If we hap­pen to have any­thing that harm­ful peo­ple want or pre­fer, there is no rea­son to be­lieve that they’d keep out. They are known for blend­ing in.

4.) Dawk­ins doesn’t be­lieve that the self­ish sim­ply leave al­tru­ists alone:

“Even in the group of al­tru­ists, there will al­most cer­tainly be a dis­sent­ing minor­ity who re­fuse to make any sac­ri­fice. If there is just one self­ish rebel, pre­pared to ex­ploit the al­tru­ism of the rest, then he, by defi­ni­tion, is more likely than they are to sur­vive and have chil­dren. Each of these chil­dren will tend to in­herit his self­ish traits. After sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of this nat­u­ral se­lec­tion, the ‘al­tru­is­tic group’ will be over-run by self­ish in­di­vi­d­u­als, and will be in­dis­t­in­guish­able from the self­ish group. Even if we grant the im­prob­a­ble chance ex­is­tence ini­tially of pure al­tru­is­tic groups with­out any rebels, it is very difficult to see what is to stop self­ish in­di­vi­d­u­als mi­grat­ing in from neigh­bor­ing self­ish groups” [17]

About 6% of men are rapists and an un­known per­centage of women.

It’s hard to find figures for sex­ual ha­rassers and grop­ers, but less hard to find these for rapists. One ob­sta­cle to find­ing out how many rapists there are is that most are un­de­tected, that is to say they are never con­victed or even taken to court. One study pooled the re­sults of four self-re­port stud­ies to­gether to find out what per­centage of men are un­de­tected rapists. Un­for­tu­nately, the study only has a figure available for men. That num­ber is 6% (rang­ing from 6%-14.9% in the stud­ies it refer­enced). [12] Rapists don’t usu­ally say “yes” when you ask them if they are a rapist. For what­ever rea­son, they just do not self-iden­tify as rapists. In this study, rapists were defined as peo­ple who an­swered yes to one of the fol­low­ing ques­tions:

  1. Have you ever been in a situ­a­tion where you tried, but for var­i­ous rea­sons did not suc­ceed, in hav­ing sex­ual in­ter­course with an adult by us­ing or threat­en­ing to use phys­i­cal force (twist­ing their arm, hold­ing them down, etc.) if they did not co­op­er­ate?

  2. Have you ever had sex­ual in­ter­course with some­one, even though they did no want to, be­cause they were too in­tox­i­cated (on al­co­hol or drugs) to re­sist your sex­ual ad­vances (e.g., re­mov­ing their clothes)?

  3. Have you ever had sex­ual in­ter­course with an adult when they didn’t want to be­cause you used or threat­ened to use phys­i­cal force (twist­ing their arm; hold­ing them down, etc.) if they didn’t co­op­er­ate?

  4. Have you ever had oral sex with an adult when they didn’t want to be­cause you used or threat­ened to use phys­i­cal force (twist­ing their arm; hold­ing them down, etc.) if they didn’t co­op­er­ate?

There are more ac­tions that count as rape than are listed here, for in­stance: in­ter­course with a non-con­sent­ing dis­abled per­son (in which case they may not em­ploy phys­i­cal force), in­ter­course with a sleep­ing per­son, in­ter­course with an adult over whom some­one else has le­gal power of at­tor­ney. It may be that 6% is a low es­ti­mate.

While look­ing for the num­ber of fe­male rapists, I found a meta-anal­y­sis on fe­male sex offen­ders. The per­centage of sex offen­ders re­ported to the po­lice who are fe­male is 2.2%. The po­lice data seems to have a re­port­ing bias. The per­centage found in sur­veys is 11.6%. [19] Please re­mem­ber that these are the per­centages of sex­u­ally vi­o­lent peo­ple who are fe­male, not the per­centage of fe­males who are sex­u­ally vi­o­lent.

I don’t see a way to use the 2.2% and 11.6% figures to es­ti­mate the num­ber of fe­male rapists. If I calcu­late 2.2% or 11.6% of po­lice re­ports or con­vic­tions, the re­sult will have a mas­sive un­der-re­port­ing bias. Num­bers from vic­tim re­ports are not di­rectly com­pa­rable to num­bers from un­de­tected rapist sur­veys. There­fore, if I try to com­pen­sate for the un­der-re­port­ing bias by tak­ing 2.2% or 11.6% of the 6% male rapists figure from un­de­tected rapist stud­ies, this will be in­ac­cu­rate. Among other things, re­ports from vic­tims can in­clude the same rapist more than once be­cause one rapist might tar­get mul­ti­ple peo­ple. There­fore, mul­ti­ply­ing num­bers from vic­tim re­ports of sex offences against the per­centage of un­de­tected rapists might give an ex­ag­ger­ated re­sult. For what it’s worth, fe­male sex offen­ders are un­likely to re­offend. (Their re­ci­di­vism rate is less than 3%.) [24] How­ever, I’m still not sure that the num­bers from vic­tim stud­ies are com­pa­rable enough to the num­bers from un­de­tected rapist stud­ies to put them to­gether for an es­ti­ma­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, no un­de­tected fe­male rapist stud­ies were found in the search. Given the ap­pear­ance that fe­male rapists are rare, it’s doubt­ful that such stud­ies ex­ist. There just doesn’t seem to be a good way to es­ti­mate them us­ing the available in­for­ma­tion.

A rough es­ti­mate of rapists in EA:

There are a large num­ber of fac­tors that may in­fluence the num­ber of sex offen­ders in a par­tic­u­lar group. For in­stance, Younger men have higher testos­terone lev­els, and younger women are more likely to be tar­geted for sex­ual vi­o­lence. Deter­min­ing how each of these fac­tors in­fluences sex­ual vi­o­lence risk can be very com­pli­cated. For in­stance, do highly ed­u­cated peo­ple com­mit fewer crimes, or are they sim­ply more likely to get away with crimes? Do peo­ple of a par­tic­u­lar race com­mit more crimes, or are they just more likely to be con­victed due to prej­u­dice? Given the very large num­ber of stud­ies on sex­ual vi­o­lence risk fac­tors, and the com­plex­ity of pro­cess­ing them all, it would be ex­tremely time con­sum­ing to take all of the fac­tors into ac­count. It could eas­ily re­quire an ar­ti­cle of the same length as this one, just to cre­ate an es­ti­mate which takes all known rele­vant fac­tors into ac­count. To en­sure enough time for the other parts of this ar­ti­cle, a sim­ple rough es­ti­mate has been cre­ated based on in­for­ma­tion about the over­all pop­u­la­tion. Please re­mem­ber that this is an *es­ti­mate*.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2015 sur­vey of effec­tive al­tru­ists, there were 2,352 re­spon­dents who con­sider them­selves an EA. [20] Some peo­ple are so un­in­volved that they would not take the EA sur­vey. They should not be counted. Others are so very busy that they might not take the EA sur­vey ei­ther, even though they should be counted. Un­less re­search is done to de­ter­mine what per­centage of EA takes the EA sur­vey, we can­not as­sume that it is ac­cu­rate. For that rea­son, I am us­ing the to­tal num­ber of EAs from the sur­vey as the low es­ti­mate. For the high es­ti­mate, I am us­ing the EA Face­book group. There are over 13,861 peo­ple in the effec­tive al­tru­ism Face­book group. [21] Not all of these peo­ple are ac­tive. The ex­act num­ber of EAs is un­known but prob­a­bly lies be­tween these two figures. So, as an es­ti­mate, there are prob­a­bly be­tween 2,352-13,861 peo­ple in the effec­tive al­tru­ism move­ment.

Us­ing the num­ber above (6% of men are rapists) to es­ti­mate, and af­ter en­cod­ing the fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion in rot13 to keep it out of search en­g­ines and dis­cour­age quot­ing: fvapr 73% bs gur fheirl erfcbaqragf ner znyr, gurer ner na rfgvzn­grq 100-600 (103-607) znyr encvfgf va gur rss­rpgvir nyge­hvfz zbirzrag, tvira 2,352-13,861 cr­b­cyr gbgny.

Ad­di­tion­ally, there are an un­known num­ber of fe­male rapists.

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion as a life saver:

Sex­ual vi­o­lence harms the health of both men [3] [4] and women. Mul­ti­ple stud­ies have shown that rape sur­vivors have a greatly in­creased risk of death via suicide. [5] [30] This is true even in very tough in­di­vi­d­u­als, like those in the mil­i­tary. [31]

A sum­mary of a study of 4008 women con­ducted by Na­tional In­sti­tute of Drug Abuse: “When asked if they ever thought se­ri­ously about com­mit­ting suicide, 33% of the rape vic­tims and 8% of the non-vic­tims of crime stated that they had se­ri­ously con­sid­ered suicide. Thus, rape vic­tims were 4.1 times more likely than non-crime vic­tims to have con­tem­plated suicide. Rape vic­tims were also 13 times more likely than non-crime vic­tims to have ac­tu­ally made a suicide at­tempt (13% vs. 1%).” [5] Mul­ti­ple sources at­tributed the suici­dal be­hav­ior to rape or the psy­cholog­i­cal im­pact of rape.

Un­for­tu­nately, it can be very difficult to find spe­cific sex­ual vi­o­lence in­for­ma­tion that per­tains to male sex­ual vi­o­lence sur­vivors, and some­times no study has been done. There­fore, only the num­ber of fe­male rape sur­vivors who at­tempted suicide will be used in the fol­low­ing rough es­ti­mates.

For a sense of how suicide differs by gen­der: women are more likely to at­tempt suicide while men are more likely to die from it. [6]

Suicide at­tempts are not always fatal: 25 peo­ple at­tempt suicide for ev­ery death. [7]

Each rapist might have com­mit­ted an av­er­age of 7.2 rapes (there isn’t an un­bi­ased sam­ple available that I could find). [8]

So far we have:

7.2 rapes per 1 rapist.

12% higher chance of a suicide at­tempt af­ter a rape (a 13% chance minus the 1% usual risk).

4% chance of a suicide death for each suici­dal per­son (1 in 25).

0.48% chance of a death for each per­son raped (1 in 208).

3.5% chance that each rapist con­tributed to a death on av­er­age.

Notes: Some­times rapists may tar­get the same per­son more than once. It would be difficult to find re­search on how fre­quently this hap­pens. In the­ory, the rape-re­lated suicide risk already in­cludes this, so at­tempt­ing to ad­just for that might ex­ag­ger­ate the suicide risk es­ti­mate. The es­ti­mate is not based on stud­ies about fu­ture rapes, this is based on stud­ies of past rapes. This is the in­for­ma­tion that is available. For that rea­son, it’s not pos­si­ble to use this to provide a figure like “For ev­ery X rapists stopped from com­mit­ting fu­ture rapes, we will save one life on av­er­age.” For the sake of cu­ri­os­ity, a differ­ent es­ti­mate can be pro­vided:

If a rough es­ti­mate of 29 would-be rapists were stopped be­fore they started, at least one life would be saved (on av­er­age). The “at least” is there to hint at the fact that be­cause past rapes don’t in­clude fu­ture rapes, the would-be rapists might have tar­geted more than 7.2 peo­ple over their lif etimes.

To go about it a bet­ter way: for ev­ery 208 peo­ple we pre­vent from be­ing raped, a rough es­ti­mate of one life will be saved on av­er­age.

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion as suffer­ing re­duc­tion:

Ac­cord­ing to a sys­tem­atic re­view, rape is “one of the most se­vere of all in­ter­per­sonal trau­mas”. [44] Another study said “Rape vic­tims were found to be sig­nifi­cantly more de­pressed, gen­er­ally anx­ious, and fear­ful than con­trol sub­jects.” [45] In a study called “The Psy­cholog­i­cal Im­pact of Rape”, the im­pacts are ex­plored in de­tail. [46] Here is a sum­mary:

Effects hours later:

92% were ter­rified and confused

96% were scared, wor­ried and trembling

96% felt exhausted

88% felt restless

84% felt depressed

1 week later:

94% met the crite­ria for PTSD (though not the time re­quire­ment)

2 weeks later:

75% were de­pressed (mildly to severely)

1 month later:

44% were mod­er­ately to severely depressed

Many still met the PTSD crite­ria.

3 months later:

47% still met the crite­ria for PTSD
Likely to ex­pe­rience fear, anx­iety, self-es­teem trou­ble and sex­ual dys­func­tion.

Sig­nifi­cantly more dis­tressed than non-vic­tims.

1 year later:

Likely to ex­pe­rience fear, anx­iety, self-es­teem trou­ble and sex­ual dys­func­tion.
Sig­nifi­cantly more dis­tressed than non-vic­tims.

2 years later:

More likely to ex­pe­rience fear, so­cial ad­just­ment is­sues, de­pres­sion and sex­ual di­s­or­ders.

3 years later:

Differ­ences on sev­eral fear and anx­iety mea­sures com­pared with non-vic­tims.

Rape causes in­tense suffer­ing to most sur­vivors, and the suffer­ing can last a long time for some of them.

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion for di­ver­sity and dis­ad­van­tage re­duc­tion:

Com­par­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence rates by gen­der:

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent NISVS re­port by the Cen­ter for Disease Con­trol, far more women than men have ex­pe­rienced sex­ual vi­o­lence over their life­times, though men and women ex­pe­rienced a com­pa­rable amount of rape* in the 12 month pe­riod the sur­vey cov­ered. [1] (See ta­bles 3.1 and 3.5.)

* It is im­por­tant to note that the way rape against men is defined in re­search of­ten leaves out en­velop­ment or puts this in a differ­ent cat­e­gory like “made to pen­e­trate”. En­velop­ment has been in­cluded in the rape defi­ni­tion used for this ar­ti­cle. When read­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence re­search, please re­mem­ber to check the defi­ni­tions and cat­e­gories of vi­o­lence to see what is con­tained in each.

Women ex­pe­rienced more sex­ual co­er­cion, un­wanted sex­ual con­tact and non-con­tact un­wanted sex­ual ex­pe­riences both over their life­times and also in the year the sur­vey cov­ered.

Greatly mul­ti­plied risk to women due to the gen­der ra­tio in EA:

The 73% /​ 27% male to fe­male ra­tio in the effec­tive al­tru­ism move­ment cre­ates a sig­nifi­cantly worse sex­ual vi­o­lence risk for women (though some ar­eas of the move­ment have a differ­ent gen­der bal­ance like in an­i­mal char­i­ties). Please re­mem­ber the es­ti­mate of male rapists in the effec­tive al­tru­ism move­ment from the be­gin­ning of the ar­ti­cle. It is not pos­si­ble to calcu­late the ex­act num­ber of rapists in the move­ment. Es­ti­mat­ing them is the best that any­one can do.

There are 635-3742 women the male rapists in the move­ment might tar­get. The ra­tio of male rapists to women out­side the move­ment is around 1:17 (3:50), based on a 5050 gen­der ra­tio. The es­ti­mated ra­tio of male rapists to women in the EA move­ment is 1:6, which is sig­nifi­cantly worse. In the ra­tio­nal­ist di­as­pora sec­tor of the move­ment (like LessWrong) the gen­der ra­tio is 83.6% /​ 16.2% [47] and the es­ti­mated male rapist to fe­male ra­tio is around 1:3.

Worse, ac­cord­ing to one study, the rapists sur­veyed com­mit­ted an av­er­age of 7.2 rapes each. [8]

To tie it all to­gether:

Out­side EA: A 1:17 ra­tio means 7 rapes per 17 women on av­er­age.

In­side EA: A 1:6 ra­tio means 7 rapes per 6 women on av­er­age.

Ra­tion­al­ists: A 1:3 ra­tio means 7 rapes per 3 women on av­er­age.

Note 1: Some women are tar­geted mul­ti­ple times.

Note 2: The 7.2 rapes per rapist is based on past rapes. It’s not a pre­dic­tion of fu­ture rapes. This is to give the reader a sense of the dis­ad­van­tage women face in male dom­i­nated en­vi­ron­ments.

Note 3: We can­not as­sume that EA rapists tar­get only other EAs. Some­times, they might tar­get peo­ple out­side the so­cial net­work. We can­not as­sume that EAs are tar­geted only by EA rapists. Some­times they might be tar­geted by peo­ple out­side the so­cial net­work. Depend­ing on how much of an EA’s so­cial life con­sists of con­tact with other EAs and also de­pend­ing on how so­cia­ble they are, their in­di­vi­d­ual risk will vary. There is not enough lifestyle in­for­ma­tion available on EAs for me to in­clude num­bers on this into the es­ti­mate.

Fe­male lawyers of­ten work in offices with a similar gen­der ra­tio to EA. [48] Ac­cord­ing to The Amer­i­can Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, be­tween half and two thirds of fe­male lawyers ex­pe­rienced or ob­served sex­ual ha­rass­ment by male su­pe­ri­ors, col­leagues, or clients dur­ing the two years prior to the sur­vey. [37]

Gay and bi­sex­ual peo­ple have around twice the sex­ual vi­o­lence risk:

Bi­sex­u­als and ho­mo­sex­u­als of both gen­ders ex­pe­rience more sex­ual vi­o­lence than het­ero­sex­u­als. The prob­lem can be around twice as bad for them. [41] (See ta­bles 1 and 2.)

List of spe­cific dis­ad­van­tages that EA women, bi­sex­u­als and ho­mo­sex­u­als face:

  1. Offen­ders in­crease their suicide risk more of­ten.

  2. Offen­ders psy­cholog­i­cally harm more of them.

  3. Offen­ders drive away a dis­pro­por­tionate num­ber of them.

  4. Offen­ders re­duce their progress to­ward their goals through psy­cholog­i­cal trauma and other health con­cerns.

  5. Offen­ders pose a threat, so they must self-im­pose var­i­ous limi­ta­tions for se­cu­rity pur­poses.

  6. Offen­ders dam­age more of their ca­reers and rep­u­ta­tions through cover-up slan­der­ing.

Re­duc­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence is a way to sig­nifi­cantly re­duce their bur­den of dis­ad­van­tage.

Po­ten­tial of sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion to pre­vent pro­duc­tivity loss:

The low es­ti­mate:

For ev­ery 208 peo­ple pro­tected from rape, a rough es­ti­mate of 1 life will be saved due to the re­lated suicide risk. (See also: the “sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion as a life saver” sec­tion.) One life­time in­cludes up to ~80,000 hours of work. Not ev­ery effec­tive al­tru­ist will spend their en­tire life work­ing in EA, and not ev­ery effec­tive al­tru­ist has 80,000 hours left in their ca­reer, so this wouldn’t always yield an 80,000 hour pro­duc­tivity boost. *Up to* 80,000 hours of pro­duc­tivity could be saved by sav­ing peo­ple from rape.

The high es­ti­mate:

If just one per­son is stopped from com­mit­ting sex offences in the effec­tive al­tru­ism move­ment, that could be as high-im­pact as gain­ing one new su­per­star level effec­tive al­tru­ist, pos­si­bly bet­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to a Har­vard Busi­ness School work­ing pa­per, em­ploy­ees who en­gage in mis­be­hav­ior like sex­ual ha­rass­ment (which in­cludes sex­ual vi­o­lence, rape, sex­ual as­sault and other in­ap­pro­pri­ate touch­ing [9] [10]) are net nega­tive. [11] One em­ployee of this type does enough dam­age to more than can­cel out the value cre­ated by an un­usu­ally pro­duc­tive per­son or “su­per­star worker”, defined as “in the top 1% of pro­duc­tivity”. “Even if a firm could re­place an av­er­age worker with one who performs in the top 1%, it would still be bet­ter off by re­plac­ing a toxic worker with an av­er­age worker by more than two-to-one”. In the pa­per, sex­ual ha­rass­ment is pro­vided as an ex­am­ple of toxic be­hav­ior on the ex­treme end of the scale for harm and sever­ity, so the im­pact of re­duc­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence could be greater.

The ra­tio of effort to im­pact might be re­ally ex­cel­lent. To rep­re­sent the pro­duc­tivity boost of adding a su­per­star worker, I’ll es­ti­mate the im­pact in terms of hours gained.

Ca­reers don’t always last a life­time, so I’ll start my range with just a five year long ca­reer. Five years con­tain 10,400 hours of work. A full life­time con­tains 80,000 hours of work.

Since many offences leave in­suffi­cient ev­i­dence, I’ll quan­tify the time it takes to re­view the qual­ity of some­one’s work to see whether there is ev­i­dence that they should be fired. (One strat­egy which has a chance to suc­ceed, de­tailed be­low.) The time re­quired for this prob­a­bly ranges from min­utes to hours.

If it takes a few hours to re­view some­one’s work, and 10,400-80,000 hours worth of pro­duc­tivity are gained, then it could be that the im­pact gained is thou­sands of times greater than the time in­vested or more.

Re­view­ing the work of a per­son ac­cused of a sex offence won’t always lead to a rea­son to fire them. The ra­tio of re­views to firings is un­known. Even if it were only 10:1, the cost benefit ra­tio is still very good.

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion as part of move­ment build­ing:

The male sex offen­ders stud­ied are shock­ingly pro­lific:

Some sex offen­ders who com­mit offences like grop­ing, frot­teurism (crotch rub­bing), voyeurism, and ex­hi­bi­tion­ism can be quite pro­lific and each act has a chance to scare peo­ple out of the effec­tive al­tru­ism move­ment.

How pro­lific are they? It’s difficult to get an un­bi­ased sam­ple of sex offen­ders. Even jail sam­ples are bi­ased be­cause so many sex offen­ders are not sent to jail. For an ex­am­ple, the frot­tage offen­ders (who touch or rub a clothed per­son) sur­veyed in this study tar­geted an av­er­age of nine hun­dred peo­ple each. [22] That is not a typo. Given this much ac­tivity, one offen­der eas­ily has the po­ten­tial to drive more than one per­son out of EA. Th­ese “less se­ri­ous” sex­ual as­saults could be wors­en­ing the tal­ent short­age.

A lot of in­for­ma­tion on sex­ual vi­o­lence in­cludes only men or has a re­port­ing bias that leaves out some of the fe­male sex offen­ders, so I sought in­for­ma­tion on fe­male sex offen­ders speci­fi­cally. The stud­ies I found said fe­male sex offen­ders are un­likely to re­offend. Their re­ci­di­vism rate is less than 3%. [24] [25] Sex offences com­mit­ted by fe­males are ob­vi­ously still im­por­tant. The point here is to gather num­bers use­ful for get­ting a sense of the amount of im­pact that sex offen­ders have on the move­ment.

Sex offen­ders in­crease turnover in work­places and prob­a­bly move­ments:

There is very lit­tle re­search on move­ment build­ing, so the chance that a sex offence will drive some­one out of a move­ment is not known. It’s rea­son­able to be con­cerned about this be­cause toxic be­hav­ior like sex offences can in­crease turnover rates in work­places [11] and the EA move­ment is partly com­posed of work­places.

A study with a very large mil­i­tary sam­ple found that “For ev­ery 1 stan­dard de­vi­a­tion in­crease in sex­ual ha­rass­ment ex­pe­rience, there is an effect size equiv­a­lent to a 21% greater risk of turnover—de­spite con­trol­ling for the con­tri­bu­tion of coworker satis­fac­tion.” [35]. The re­sults of an­other study showed that “the odds of sex­u­ally ha­rassed em­ploy­ees hav­ing turnover in­ten­tions are 1.63 times greater than for em­ploy­ees not ex­pe­rienc­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment.“ [36] All of the other available stud­ies I could lo­cate on the topic found that sex­ual ha­rass­ment in­creases turnover in­ten­tions. [37] [38] [39] [40]

Sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion for law­suit pre­ven­tion:

A sex­ual ha­rass­ment law­suit can cost into the mil­lions of dol­lars, and a sur­vey shows that many com­pany poli­cies are in­ad­e­quate and may even vi­o­late “effec­tive ac­tion”. [42] I am not qual­ified to provide le­gal ad­vice, I just want to raise aware­ness. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, please con­sult with a lawyer.


Global ne­glect­ed­ness:

Ex­pect­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence to leave enough ev­i­dence pre­vents solv­ing it.

It does not ap­pear to be widely known in­for­ma­tion that for ev­ery 1000 rapes com­mit­ted, only 6 rapists go to jail. [2] If sex­ual vi­o­lence tends to leave too lit­tle ev­i­dence, then calls for jus­tice make an un­re­al­is­tic de­mand on court sys­tems. It seems to me that peo­ple have been ex­pect­ing these crimes to leave enough ev­i­dence, so they haven’t put enough in­vest­ment into other av­enues that have po­ten­tial such as sting op­er­a­tions for the crim­i­nal gen­er­al­ist type of sex offen­der or a cure for para­philias. To get an ac­cu­rate idea of whether sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion is ne­glected in each coun­try re­quires more re­search to do the ques­tion jus­tice.

The main challenges in eval­u­at­ing ne­glect­ed­ness in our net­work:

Sur­vivor­ship bias makes gath­er­ing num­bers tricky:

Due to sur­vivor­ship bias, sur­veys of the move­ment ask­ing about sex­ual vi­o­lence will un­for­tu­nately be in­ac­cu­rate. The prob­lem is that peo­ple who have been tar­geted by sex offen­ders may have stopped par­ti­ci­pat­ing in or­der to avoid the offen­ders. They may have even lost their jobs be­cause of con­flicts or men­tal health is­sues re­sult­ing from the at­tack. Nonethe­less, a sur­vey has been done. This sur­vey should not be con­sid­ered the main sup­port. Data from the sur­vey is in­cluded in the list of ob­ser­va­tions be­low.

This prob­lem of sur­vivor­ship bias will likely af­fect in­for­ma­tion from most of the meth­ods we could use to dis­cover whether sex­ual vi­o­lence is be­ing han­dled effec­tively. For in­stance, ask­ing around would only give us op­por­tu­ni­ties to gather in­for­ma­tion *if* we met the sex­ual vi­o­lence sur­vivors be­fore the offence. There are some who we may not have ever met, if they left be­fore we could meet them.

Sur­vivor­ship bias is a re­ally big prob­lem that makes gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion about ne­glect­ed­ness hard.

Most sex offences are not re­ported:

Another prob­lem is that the ma­jor­ity of sex offences are not re­ported. [2] One can­not sim­ply con­tact EA or­ga­ni­za­tions to ask how many re­ports they re­ceived be­cause most of the sex­ual vi­o­lence will not have been re­ported to them.

An al­ter­na­tive: fo­cus­ing on whether we could be more effec­tive:

Be­cause there is not cur­rently a way to di­rectly mea­sure the size of the prob­lem in effec­tive al­tru­ism, this sec­tion will in­stead fo­cus on whether ac­tions against known prob­lems could be more effec­tive.

Ob­ser­va­tions about sex­ual vi­o­lence in the EA net­work:

A list of ob­ser­va­tions has ac­cu­mu­lated over time as I par­ti­ci­pated in the move­ment. I’ve seen some peo­ple tak­ing ac­tion, but there doesn’t seem to be enough aware­ness about what’s likely to be effec­tive. I’ve seen oth­ers take no ac­tion. I can’t be sure I haven’t ended up with a bi­ased view, but from what I’ve seen there have been some prob­lems and the prob­lems hap­pened in a lot of places. The na­ture and scope of what I’ve seen sug­gests that there is plenty of room for im­prove­ment.

In­spired by the #metoo phe­nomenon, I have cho­sen to be a bit more can­did in this sec­tion than tra­di­tional so­cial norms would usu­ally al­low. My per­sonal be­lief is that shar­ing *anonymized* sex­ual vi­o­lence re­lated events has a lot of ed­u­ca­tional value (with the caveat that it’s pos­si­ble it may be ex­pe­rienced as en­ter­tain­ment by the peo­ple we’re try­ing to raise aware­ness about, so my de­scrip­tions are as bor­ing and con­cise as pos­si­ble to pre­vent that [43]).

Be­cause a lot of sex­ual vi­o­lence in­ci­dents lead to un­re­solv­able he-said-she-said ar­gu­ments, it isn’t clear to me whether pub­li­cly out­ing the real iden­tities of offen­ders does more good or more harm. Sex offen­ders can and will smear their sur­vivors with ru­mors when sur­vivors fight back. This makes un­wary peo­ple con­fused and fur­ther at­tacks the vic­tim.

Sex offen­ders are not above try­ing to ma­nipu­late friends, wit­nesses, and in­ves­ti­gat­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions, nor are they above gaslight­ing and ma­nipu­lat­ing the sur­vivors them­selves. The re­sult of an out­ing can be a huge in­tractable mess which causes a lot of pain and trou­ble for a lot of peo­ple, in­clud­ing the sur­vivor.

For some situ­a­tions and/​or sur­vivors, out­ing might do some good. For oth­ers, it will only cause harm.

Each per­son has to make their own de­ci­sion about their own unique situ­a­tion.

Be­cause my as­sess­ment tells me that out­ing the fol­low­ing peo­ple is not pro­duc­tive at this time, their iden­tities have been in­ten­tion­ally anonymized.

A list for in­for­ma­tional pur­poses only (please take no dras­tic ac­tions):

  1. I was told af­ter one EA sex offence, by the offen­der’s co-worker, that the in­ap­pro­pri­ate touch­ing was due to “con­fu­sion” re­lated to hav­ing read pickup liter­a­ture. The be­hav­ior is un­ac­cept­able re­gard­less, but to see what was go­ing on, I de­cided to read some pickup liter­a­ture my­self. Below is what I found af­ter I was di­rected to “The Red Pill” (TRP) by a friend.

    Note: open­ing up the fol­low­ing three sources is not safe for work, though this sum­mary of them in­ten­tion­ally avoids ex­plicit de­scrip­tions. “Male Dom­i­nance: A Begin­ner’s Guide” on “The Red Pill Room”, a blog with over 3 mil­lion views, ad­vo­cates us­ing name-call­ing, hair pul­ling, man­han­dling, and gen­eral ag­gres­sion with women. [32] For an­other ex­am­ple, a “Six­teen Com­mand­ments” ar­ti­cle on Red­dit claims that “Touch­ing a woman in­ap­pro­pri­ately on the first date will get you fur­ther with her than not touch­ing her at all.” [33] In a Red­dit com­pila­tion PDF known as “The Red Pill” one au­thor ex­plains that /​r/​TheRedPill has be­come a ma­jor “front page of the manosphere” (a play on the Red­dit slo­gan “Wel­come to the front page of the in­ter­net”). Another au­thor in the com­pila­tion states “TRP ad­vo­cates tak­ing ad­van­tage of women to bend them to your will. It ab­solutely says “the best ba­sis for a good re­la­tion­ship is Stock­holm Syn­drome”.” [34]

    Per­haps not all pickup au­thors en­courage vi­o­lence, but there are definitely some no­table ex­am­ples who do.

    Even if, as some sources claim, some women do like ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior, this is definitely not true of all women. In ad­di­tion, it seems to be the case that there is a risk of psy­cholog­i­cal trauma even among women who can en­joy ag­gres­sion. En­courag­ing sex­ual ag­gres­sion is not a low-risk thing to do.

    A lot of other peo­ple have men­tioned pickup. It seems to me that a lot of peo­ple in my net­work have been in­fluenced by pickup artistry. That there ex­ists a sex­u­ally ag­gres­sive form of pickup and that it has likely in­fluenced or con­fused some of the peo­ple in our so­cial net­work is con­cern­ing. That EAs might use the ex­is­tence of this pickup lit as an ex­cuse to com­mit sex offences, or as a way to cover them up is also con­cern­ing.

    “The Red Pill” is not merely a stream of crude­ness. There are many valid pains and com­plaints listed in the com­pila­tion PDF, mixed with things like ex­er­cise and health tips, in be­tween its in­sults and en­courage­ments to be in­solent and ag­gres­sive. The book de­picts a large schism be­tween men and women. This is very de­tailed, so it isn’t easy to eval­u­ate how many of the prob­lems it de­scribes are ac­cu­rate to re­al­ity, but at least some of the prob­lems are real. There are wounds to be healed be­tween men and women and the wounds are on both sides.

    There are deep prob­lems here. They won’t be solved overnight. We need to fix var­i­ous male-fe­male re­la­tions is­sues and pro­mote ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion about healthy sex­u­al­ity.

  2. I took an in­for­mal sur­vey of the group Women and Non-Bi­nary in Effec­tive Altru­ism. I in­cluded an anony­mous feed­back form so that par­ti­ci­pants would feel more com­fortable with re­ply­ing. One of the re­spon­dents re­ported a bad ex­pe­rience with bring­ing a sex offence to an au­thor­ity in our so­cial net­work.

  3. Dur­ing an af­ter party for EA Global, some­one came up from be­hind and com­mit­ted frot­teurism against me. There was an ob­struc­tion in front of the se­cu­rity cam­era at the time. Th­ese might be un­re­lated, but it makes sense to think that sex offen­ders are more likely to strike when ac­countabil­ity is low.

  4. In an EA work­place, one of the work­ers un­ex­pect­edly kissed me. I was not try­ing to date this per­son or any­thing. I had already turned him down, ex­plain­ing that I wasn’t available. After he kissed me, I told him “I don’t want you to kiss me.” and he did it again im­me­di­ately.

  5. I’ve en­coun­tered a sig­nifi­cant minor­ity of peo­ple who do op­pose sex­ual vi­o­lence but don’t re­gard the prob­lem as im­por­tant. In other words, there is too lit­tle “herd im­mu­nity”. In­for­ma­tion about im­pact could go a long way.

  6. An in­ves­ti­ga­tor was hired to check for ev­i­dence of a sex offence, but sex offences usu­ally leave in­suffi­cient ev­i­dence. What ev­i­dence is left by a kiss, a grope, a rub? Noth­ing. Money was spent on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It seems like the right thing to do. How­ever, given that sex offen­ders usu­ally aren’t caught, one can­not sim­ply in­ves­ti­gate a sex offence and de­cide it didn’t hap­pen be­cause there was no ev­i­dence of it. If in­ter­preted this way, in­ves­ti­ga­tions can cre­ate a false sense of se­cu­rity.

    To be ac­cu­rate, one has to be­come very knowl­edge­able about all the un­in­tu­itive ways that vic­tims can re­spond and choose very care­fully be­tween con­clu­sions like that it was an un­sub­stan­ti­ated /​ un­founded ac­cu­sa­tion, a par­tially true /​ par­tially false ac­cu­sa­tion, a false ac­cu­sa­tion and var­i­ous oth­ers. It takes a lot of in­for­ma­tion to do this ac­cu­rately and even pro­fes­sion­als in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem are known to make mis­takes ac­cord­ing to re­search. Pro­fes­sion­als like psy­chol­o­gists who work with sex­ual vi­o­lence sur­vivors are also needed. A lot of ed­u­ca­tion is needed. (See also: the “Help re­place stereo­types about sex­ual vi­o­lence situ­a­tions with real in­for­ma­tion.” sec­tion.)

  7. A group was be­ing tar­geted with an un­usual num­ber of com­mu­ni­ca­tions that pro­moted things like a sex­ual vi­o­lence method and sex­ual vi­o­lence risk fac­tors. This ac­tivity over­whelmed one of the mem­bers of the man­age­ment team. In­stead of ad­dress­ing the prob­lem of an in­creased num­ber of peo­ple pro­mot­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence in the group, most of the man­age­ment team aban­doned the group.

Given these ob­ser­va­tions, I think there is a lot of room for im­prove­ment.

Effec­tive sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion isn’t an EA fo­cus yet:

Even if most EAs wouldn’t ne­glect sex­ual vi­o­lence on pur­pose, most of them don’t have the time to do a thor­ough job of figur­ing out what might be an effec­tive way to solve such a com­pli­cated and challeng­ing prob­lem. This is not an area that any EA or­ga­ni­za­tion spe­cial­izes in. Sex­ual vi­o­lence is more of an is­sue that comes up from time to time when peo­ple are busy work­ing to­ward other goals. Given the im­pact at stake, the time re­quired to do the topic jus­tice, and the fact that no EA or­ga­ni­za­tion has spe­cial­ized in it, I be­lieve it’s likely that effec­tive­ness has not yet been max­i­mized through­out the move­ment. Pro­mot­ing in­for­ma­tion on the op­tions and their effec­tive­ness has a chance to do a lot of good


The key ob­sta­cle:

Un­for­tu­nately, as the Depart­ment of Jus­tice showed, sex offen­ders *usu­ally* evade the law. The data sup­plied by RAINN shows that even in cases where the po­lice be­come in­volved, the sus­pects are likely to go free.

The law has high stan­dards. Our le­gal sys­tem in­sists that ev­ery­one is in­no­cent un­til proven guilty. In the le­gal sys­tem, there are se­ri­ous pun­ish­ments at stake, so this ap­proach makes sense. Un­for­tu­nately, sex­ual vi­o­lence of­ten does not leave enough ev­i­dence for the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to work with.

Anger is nat­u­ral, but if we in­sist on pun­ish­ment as our only strat­egy against sex offen­ders, our bur­den of proof will leave us mostly un­defended.

In cases where we have too lit­tle ev­i­dence, we can’t just pun­ish peo­ple. This would cre­ate a cul­ture of witch hunt­ing. If we cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity to witch hunt, we’ll open our­selves up to be­ing taken ad­van­tage of by un­scrupu­lous peo­ple.

Sex­ual vi­o­lence is an im­por­tant enough is­sue that this challenge shouldn’t stop us. It is for this rea­son that I offer an ex­plo­ra­tion of al­ter­na­tive op­tions.

Alter­na­tive sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion op­tions ex­plored:

  1. Look for work qual­ity is­sues.

    Pe­ri­od­i­cally dou­ble check­ing the qual­ity of work be­ing pro­duced by all em­ploy­ees may cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­move toxic work­ers. This in­cludes sex­u­ally vi­o­lent peo­ple. Har­vard Busi­ness School ex­plains in a work­ing pa­per that “work­ers with poorer qual­ity perfor­mance are more likely to be toxic. Here, a one stan­dard de­vi­a­tion in­crease in the qual­ity of pro­duc­tion re­sults in a 27% de­crease in the haz­ard.“ [11]

  2. Keep an eye on sus­pected offen­ders for other forms of mis­be­hav­ior.

    Some sex offen­ders mis­be­have in other ways. One study found that 99 sex offen­ders com­mit­ted 20,000 non­sex­ual offences. [22] That’s not a typo. That’s an av­er­age of over 200 offences per per­son.

    Rapists con­tributed a dis­pro­por­tionate share.

    Some of the other mis­be­hav­ior by sex offen­ders might leave more ev­i­dence be­hind than their sex offences, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to oust them. Think care­fully about the rules they might have been tempted to break, and any de­tails that seem out of place. Re­port any use­ful ob­ser­va­tions to au­thor­i­ties.

    It could be worth­while to check the qual­ity of their work as well.

  3. Look into set­ting up a sting op­er­a­tion (sex offen­ders are of­ten crim­i­nal gen­er­al­ists).

    Ob­vi­ously, there is an eth­i­cal con­cern worth wor­ry­ing about when it comes to what might hap­pen to peo­ple par­ti­ci­pat­ing in a sting op­er­a­tion to bust sex offences. Par­ti­ci­pants could be trau­ma­tized by a sex offen­der. Gladly, there seems to be sig­nifi­cant over­lap be­tween sex­ual vi­o­lence and other forms of mis­be­hav­ior which are eas­ier to set up a sting op­er­a­tion for. There­fore, well-de­signed sting op­er­a­tions meant to de­tect crimes like theft or fraud may also catch peo­ple who com­mit sex offences. A well-de­signed sting op­er­a­tion could re­sult in you hav­ing the ev­i­dence you need to get rid of sex offen­ders and other crim­i­nals by firing the per­son, hav­ing them banned from events, or pos­si­bly even put in prison.

    It takes skill to de­sign some­thing which only catches peo­ple who are ac­tu­ally mis­be­hav­ing with­out gen­er­at­ing a bunch of false pos­i­tives. It also takes skill to avoid un­fairly caus­ing peo­ple to mis­be­have (called “en­trap­ment”).

    Be­fore at­tempt­ing a sting op­er­a­tion, ask a lawyer about what is le­gal for you to do in your re­gion. Also ask what you’ll be able to legally ac­com­plish with the type of ev­i­dence you might col­lect. To min­i­mize risks like false pos­i­tives and en­trap­ment, please get a knowl­edge­able per­son to help de­sign the sting op­er­a­tion.

  4. Strike a bal­ance be­tween dis­miss­ing ac­cu­sa­tions and witch-hunt­ing peo­ple.

    What per­centage of rape ac­cu­sa­tions are false? Ac­cord­ing to DiCanio, the re­searchers and pros­e­cu­tors gen­er­ally agree on a num­ber some­where in the range of 2% to 10%. [23] Since 90%-98% of rape ac­cu­sa­tions are prob­a­bly true, it makes sense to take them se­ri­ously. Since there is a much lower but still un­com­fortable chance of them be­ing wrong, it also makes sense to be con­cerned about pun­ish­ing an in­no­cent per­son.

    Ad­di­tion­ally, there is con­cern that if we pun­ish peo­ple based on ac­cu­sa­tions alone, more peo­ple will make ac­cu­sa­tions. This is be­cause an in­cen­tive would be cre­ated for peo­ple to make false ac­cu­sa­tions. Depend­ing on what the pun­ish­ment is, un­scrupu­lous peo­ple could use ac­cu­sa­tions for all sorts of strate­gies. Ac­cu­sa­tions could also be abused in a gen­eral way: threat­en­ing to make an ac­cu­sa­tion against some­one could be used to con­trol them.

    There are some things which are ap­pro­pri­ate to do in the event of an ac­cu­sa­tion. For in­stance, do not send peo­ple off to be alone with the ac­cused in a meet­ing room. Do con­sider re­view­ing their work for qual­ity is­sues, look­ing for ev­i­dence of other types of mis­be­hav­ior, and per­suad­ing them to seek treat­ment if these things can be done safely.

    There are other things which are not ap­pro­pri­ate to do in the event of an ac­cu­sa­tion such as putting them in jail with­out ev­i­dence.

    What is and isn’t ap­pro­pri­ate will vary from one situ­a­tion to the next. Please think about this very care­fully.

  5. Create a ro­bust sex offen­der de­tec­tion strat­egy.

    Given the state of psy­chol­ogy re­search, stud­ies on the per­son­al­ity traits of sex offen­ders *alone* are un­likely to be enough to give us the level of ac­cu­racy we de­sire when it comes to figur­ing out which peo­ple are likely to com­mit sex offences and which peo­ple are not. How­ever, that does not mean they’re worth­less. Com­bin­ing a lot of differ­ent num­bers and types of re­search to­gether has the po­ten­tial to pro­duce far more ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion than us­ing one type of re­search alone.

    We can com­bine all the fol­low­ing to­gether into one prob­a­bil­ity es­ti­mate:

    1. The prior prob­a­bil­ity that an in­di­vi­d­ual is a rapist based on un­re­ported rape re­search.

    2. Re­search on re­ci­di­vism and the amount of ac­tivity differ­ent types of offen­ders tend to have can be used to help es­ti­mate fu­ture risk.

    3. We can ad­just prob­a­bil­ities based on the per­centage of ac­cu­sa­tions that are found to be true and false.

    4. We can take into ac­count be­hav­ioral risk fac­tors such as whether the per­son be­lieves rape myths.

    5. We can then tweak a prob­a­bil­ity fur­ther us­ing per­son­al­ity re­search.

    This could also help peo­ple who have been falsely ac­cused to be deemed low risk.

    It might iden­tify peo­ple who are low risk due to hav­ing re­formed, if there is enough rele­vant re­search about that.

    This could help us pre­dict and pre­vent sex­ual vi­o­lence.

    It turns out that there is a plethora of in­for­ma­tion on the var­i­ous per­son­al­ity traits and other char­ac­ter­is­tics of sex offen­ders. [57] [58] [59] [60] (The first cita­tion in this list con­tains a wide va­ri­ety of re­lated refer­ences. Th­ese are just what I found with searches for links be­tween the big five and var­i­ous terms for sex­ual vi­o­lence. A much broader search could be done for links be­tween sex­ual vi­o­lence and other per­son­al­ity tests or char­ac­ter­is­tics.)
    A thor­ough anal­y­sis is needed to pro­cess the available re­search and to de­velop and test re­search-based meth­ods of calcu­lat­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence prob­a­bil­ities.

  6. Help solve male-fe­male re­la­tions is­sues.

    Pro­vid­ing a con­struc­tive al­ter­na­tive to sex­ism and hos­tility could help to re­duce these risk fac­tors for sex­ual vi­o­lence. For in­stance, we could open up a di­alogue with dou­ble crux ses­sions be­tween peo­ple of differ­ent gen­ders, fo­cus­ing on gen­der re­lated is­sues. This would take at­ten­tion away from peo­ple who are pro­mot­ing ha­tred to peo­ple in the group and chan­nel that at­ten­tion into pos­i­tive progress.

  7. Help min­i­mize sex­ual vi­o­lence risk fac­tors through­out your so­cial net­work.

    Var­i­ous stud­ies show that cer­tain be­liefs about sex and gen­der are risk fac­tors for sex­ual vi­o­lence. [61] [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] If we suc­ceed at re­duc­ing con­fu­sion and ei­ther change ag­gres­sive at­ti­tudes or drive away the peo­ple who har­bor them, this could help re­duce our risk.

    Spe­cific ex­am­ples of risk fac­tors:

    1. Ad­ver­sar­ial at­ti­tudes about re­la­tion­ships [61]

    2. At­ti­tudes that vi­o­lence is ac­cept­able (both the offen­der and sur­vivor) [62]

    3. Rape-sup­port­ive at­ti­tudes and be­liefs [65]

    4. The pres­ence and ac­cep­tance of vi­o­lence [63] (re­view)

    5. Rape myths [61]

    6. Male pa­tri­ar­chal val­ues [66]

    7. Men’s ac­cep­tance of tra­di­tional sex roles [61]

    8. Some gen­der at­ti­tudes [65]

    9. Peer in­fluence (both the offen­der and sur­vivor) [62]

    10. Mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion about sex [61]

    11. Sex­ual mis­per­cep­tions [64]

    The re­search prob­a­bly has not iden­ti­fied a com­plete list of risk fac­tors. For ex­am­ple, un­for­tu­nately, lit­tle re­search has been done to help pre­vent sex­ual vi­o­lence against men. I did find one study on myths about male rape [67] so I can provide a few ex­am­ples.

    Ad­di­tional risk fac­tors—rape myths that ap­ply to male rape:

    1. “Men can­not be raped.”

    2. “‘Real’ men can defend them­selves against rape.”

    3. “Only gay men are vic­tims and/​or per­pe­tra­tors of rape.”

    4. “Men are not harmed by rape (or not as much as women).”

    5. “A woman can­not sex­u­ally as­sault a man.”

    6. “Sex­ual as­sault by some­one of the same sex causes ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.”

    7. “Ho­mo­sex­ual and bi­sex­ual in­di­vi­d­u­als de­serve to be sex­u­ally as­saulted be­cause they are im­moral and de­viant.”

    8. “If a vic­tim phys­i­cally re­sponds to an as­sault he must have wanted it.”

    Please do not stig­ma­tize sex­ual vi­o­lence sur­vivors by claiming they’ll be­come rapists. The abuse to abuser hy­poth­e­sis is ques­tion­able. For one ex­am­ple of why you shouldn’t be­lieve this: more women have been raped than men, but more men are rapists than women. Even if hav­ing been sex­u­ally abused is a risk fac­tor for some sub­set of the pop­u­la­tion who com­mit sex­ual vi­o­lence, we should not as­sume most sur­vivors will be­come sex offen­ders, and this ap­plies to both gen­ders. For more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on the abuse to abuser hy­poth­e­sis, read “Myths and Mis­con­cep­tions about Sex Offen­ders”.

  8. En­courage care­ful think­ing and learn­ing about cer­tain sex­ual be­hav­iors.

    Some be­lieve there is a dis­tinc­tion to be made be­tween some form of ag­gres­sive play or rit­u­al­ized ag­gres­sion and cer­tain other forms of ag­gres­sion which are deemed un­ac­cept­able. When the dis­tinc­tion is made, the ver­sion per­ceived as ac­cept­able might be called “kink” or “BDSM”, etc. Some do not think that this dis­tinc­tion should be made, and be­lieve that ag­gres­sion should not be com­bined with sex. The pur­pose of this sec­tion is not to de­ter­mine the best way or to ad­vise. Mak­ing all of the eth­i­cal and health dis­tinc­tions re­quired for this would be a very large pro­ject in and of it­self, so is out­side the scope of this ar­ti­cle. That would be un­likely to re­solve the con­tro­versy any­way. The pur­pose is sim­ply to re­fer to a few of the main ways of mak­ing the dis­tinc­tions and to en­courage care­ful think­ing, read­ing and pro­fes­sional con­sul­ta­tions to re­duce the risk of nega­tive con­se­quences.

    This is not men­tal health ad­vice, but it’s worth not­ing that there are books psy­chol­o­gists use to make dis­tinc­tions be­tween what is con­sid­ered nor­mal and the class of men­tal di­s­or­ders known as para­philias. Speci­fi­cally, the ICD-10 (In­ter­na­tional Statis­ti­cal Clas­sifi­ca­tion of Diseases and Re­lated Health Prob­lems) and DSM-5 (Di­ag­nos­tic and Statis­tic Man­ual). Visit­ing a psy­chol­o­gist is one way to make dis­tinc­tions.

    Don’t take any­thing in this ar­ti­cle as le­gal ad­vice as I am not a lawyer. Not ev­ery kink is le­gal to act upon in ev­ery re­gion. Even if men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als deem a be­hav­ior nor­mal or kinky, the le­gal dis­tinc­tions don’t always match the psy­chol­ogy dis­tinc­tions. For an­other source of rele­vant in­for­ma­tion, con­tact a lawyer in your area.

    Please take this as a sum­mary of in­for­ma­tion, not as en­courage­ment or ad­vice: Some be­lieve that BDSM (Bondage, Dom­i­na­tion, Sub­mis­sion/​Sadism, Masochism) can be done eth­i­cally and in a healthy way. Even if you have a gen­uine in­tent to prac­tice BDSM, you could still com­mit a sex offence by ac­ci­dent or cause phys­i­cal harm. For in­stance, an at­tempt to prac­tice BDSM role play rape can ac­ci­den­tally re­sult in rape, com­plete with psy­cholog­i­cal trauma. Safety prac­tices are em­ployed to make BDSM safer such as con­sent (some­times un­der BDSM spe­cific con­sent philoso­phies), ne­go­ti­a­tion tech­niques, train­ing, and use of a BDSM philos­o­phy like RACK (Risk-Aware Con­sen­sual Kink) or SSC (Safe, Sane, Con­sen­sual). Even when all pre­cau­tions are taken to re­duce risk, BDSM still poses some risk. Like sports or mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ing, even things like a helmet won’t bring your risk to zero. If you choose to ex­plore BDSM please keep in mind that peo­ple who have re­ceived or caused harm dur­ing BDSM ac­tivi­ties are more likely to leave the com­mu­nity. If you never meet them, you will not learn from their mis­takes, and you will not see their level of risk aver­sion re­flected in the com­mu­nity. If you meet peo­ple who en­courage you to take risks you’re not com­fortable with, con­sider that they may be the lucky peo­ple who were left over af­ter an un­known num­ber of un­lucky peo­ple stopped par­ti­ci­pat­ing. If you‘re in­ter­ested in BDSM, please con­sider all the risks very, very care­fully and be sure to con­sult with knowl­edge­able pro­fes­sion­als about the risks rather than just par­ti­ci­pants.

    If you are not qual­ified to ad­vise peo­ple on which be­hav­iors are eth­i­cal and healthy, you can cer­tainly en­courage peo­ple to think very care­fully about the dis­tinc­tions, ex­plore the best sources of in­for­ma­tion, and visit all the rele­vant types of pro­fes­sion­als.

  9. View less se­ri­ous sex­ual as­saults like grop­ing as a se­cu­rity heuris­tic.

    Be­cause those who com­mit frot­tage can be so pro­lific, sex­ual as­saults like grop­ing are worth re­port­ing on their own. There’s an ad­di­tional rea­son to do so:

    Para­philias are the men­tal di­s­or­ders that mo­ti­vate sex offences, and they tend to come in mul­ti­ples. One study found that only 10.4 per­cent of para­phili­acs ex­pe­rienced a sin­gle para­philia and 37.6 per­cent of them had five to ten para­philias. [26] An offen­der with toucherism, the grop­ing para­philia, could have one or more other para­philias which mo­ti­vate them to do other kinds of things. Some para­philias might not harm oth­ers (like masochism). How­ever, hid­den among our grop­ers, there are prob­a­bly para­phili­acs with bi­astophilia or pe­dophilia, the para­philias that mo­ti­vate rapists and child mo­lesters. A less se­ri­ous offence does not nec­es­sar­ily mean you’re deal­ing with a less se­ri­ous offen­der. Ig­nor­ing grop­ers is a gam­ble.

  10. Learn self-defence, pro­mote self-defence, and/​or offer self-defence ed­u­ca­tion.

    In 2005, the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Jus­tice com­mis­sioned a re­port on the im­pact of vic­tim self-pro­tec­tion. [27]. Based on this, they cre­ated a web page list­ing cer­tain self-defence ac­tions which re­duce the risk of rape and in­jury: at­tack­ing or strug­gling against the at­tacker, run­ning away, and ver­bally warn­ing the at­tacker. [28]

    Other ac­tions were found to in­crease risk: stal­ling, co­op­er­at­ing and scream­ing from pain or fear.

    Ad­di­tion­ally, NIJ shared a study that showed men­tal health out­comes were bet­ter in those who fought back, even if they didn’t win. [29]

    Warn­ing: It’s pos­si­ble that these re­search re­sults were skewed by a minor­ity of peo­ple who have se­ri­ous train­ing and/​or ex­pe­rience. Some ex­perts re­gard self-defence courses as likely to give you a false sense of se­cu­rity. Be­fore in­vest­ing in self-defence train­ing, an in-depth eval­u­a­tion of effec­tive­ness needs to be com­pleted.

  11. Offer a pre­ven­tion pro­gram.

    Many pro­grams were found to be in­effec­tive [68][69] so you’ll need to be care­ful when se­lect­ing a pro­gram. One im­por­tant thing to con­sider when seek­ing a pro­gram is whether the effects are long-term. [70]

    I found one pro­gram which, ac­cord­ing to one sys­tem­atic re­view, “demon­strated sig­nifi­cant effects on sex­u­ally vi­o­lent be­hav­ior” and has long-term re­sults: Safe Dates. [69] The longest fol­low-up pe­riod as­sessed for the Safe Dates pro­gram was 4 years.

    Ac­cord­ing to the same re­view, an­other pro­gram, Shift­ing Boundaries, has a build­ing-level in­ter­ven­tion that may be of in­ter­est. The effec­tive­ness of Shift­ing Boundaries was not as­sessed be­yond 6 months. This is bet­ter than the re­sults of a lot of other pro­grams which *were* as­sessed long-term, as the long-term as­sess­ments of the other pro­grams showed that they were *not* effec­tive in the long-term. There­fore, Shift­ing Boundaries may have some­thing worth try­ing while oth­ers are less likely to be use­ful.

    Please note: these pro­grams were tested on a younger age group than most of the peo­ple in EA. I don’t men­tion them be­cause they are proven to be effec­tive for our age group. I men­tion them be­cause af­ter go­ing through ev­ery page of Google Scholar re­sults for 11 differ­ent key­word searches, these are the only pro­grams I found that were sup­ported by re­search. There’s a chance that these are worth try­ing to find out whether they work for us.

    Another pos­si­bil­ity is to choose a pro­gram that gets short-term re­sults and ap­ply it re­peat­edly, ev­ery time the re­sults wear off. To de­ter­mine whether re­sults can be main­tained this way, test­ing is needed.

  12. En­courage sex offen­ders to seek help if you can do so safely.

    Most non­in­car­cer­ated para­phili­acs in one study said they were mo­ti­vated to seek treat­ment by fam­ily mem­bers, friends, lawyers or health­care work­ers. [8] The study doesn’t say what pro­por­tion of sex offen­ders were per­suad­able. The point is that some of them were per­suad­able. A sig­nifi­cant pro­por­tion of the study’s par­ti­ci­pants were referred this way, so there’s a chance per­sua­sion could work to get sex offen­ders into treat­ment. This could be re­searched fur­ther.

    Whether treat­ment will make a differ­ence for a par­tic­u­lar in­di­vi­d­ual isn’t easy to dis­cern, but it’s a se­ri­ous enough prob­lem that it makes sense for them to *try* treat­ment to see whether any­thing works for them. In case be­liev­ing that treat­ment doesn’t work for sex offen­ders is a self-fulfilling prophecy, it might be pos­si­ble to get bet­ter re­sults by tak­ing a less dis­cour­ag­ing at­ti­tude (while bal­anc­ing this against the pos­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing a false sense of se­cu­rity, of course).

    Most of us aren’t qual­ified to di­ag­nose or treat any­one but we can cer­tainly be part of a more open cul­ture around dis­cussing and pro­mot­ing the treat­ment of sex­ual offend­ing. If peo­ple have too lit­tle aware­ness about the treat­ment op­tions, they might not con­sider treat­ment. We can make sure they’ve at least heard about the treat­ment op­tions.

    If they have pri­vacy con­cerns, you can urge them to see a lawyer or con­sider med­i­cal tourism. A visit to a lawyer is nowhere near as costly as the dam­age that sex­ual offend­ing might cause to their rep­u­ta­tions, ca­reers, per­sonal lives, and to their sur­vivors. Some coun­tries have more fa­vor­able pri­vacy laws than oth­ers, and it may be vi­able for sex offen­ders to do med­i­cal tourism.

    Ob­vi­ously, please re­mem­ber to mind your own safety if you choose to per­suade some­one to seek treat­ment for sex­ual vi­o­lence. Con­sider send­ing a mes­sage in­stead of talk­ing in per­son. There are still some risks in­volved in send­ing mes­sages such as be­ing smeared with ru­mors if the sex offen­der is feel­ing para­noid. An anony­mous mes­sage with no iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion would be safer.

    It is also pos­si­ble for a group to sched­ule an in­ter­ven­tion with the offen­der to per­suade them to get treat­ment to­gether. This isn’t risk-free, but might offer some in­crease in se­cu­rity through safety in num­bers. On the other hand, a group in­ter­ven­tion prob­a­bly in­creases the risk of ini­ti­at­ing ru­mors (in­clud­ing re­tal­i­a­tory ru­mors cre­ated by the offen­der) or start­ing a ker­fuffle.

    Treat­ments are not some­thing for non-pro­fes­sion­als to toy with, but we can cer­tainly talk about pos­si­bil­ities and en­courage peo­ple with prob­lems to seek pro­fes­sional help.

    Some offen­ders may have already tried the available treat­ments with­out suc­cess. Con­sider per­suad­ing such peo­ple to switch to earn­ing to give or par­ti­ci­pat­ing in sex­ual vi­o­lence treat­ment stud­ies in­stead of work­ing in EA. This could re­ally im­prove their im­pact.

  13. Do more re­search on sex­ual vi­o­lence treat­ment.

    Noth­ing in this ar­ti­cle is med­i­cal ad­vice. Please see a pro­fes­sional if you have any health con­cerns.

    Sex offen­ders might be treat­able, but it’s un­clear how effec­tive the op­tions are and sources differ on that. Here’s a brief in­tro­duc­tion to the ex­ist­ing treat­ment re­search as well as some thoughts about ad­di­tional ar­eas that could be re­searched.

    Ac­cord­ing to “Myths and Mis­con­cep­tions about Sex Offen­ders”, “Most ther­a­pists who treat sex offen­ders make a point of tel­ling them early on that their con­di­tion is “In­cur­able” and “it should be noted that for psy­cholog­i­cal con­di­tions, the be­lief of the ther­a­pist that the con­di­tion is cur­able is one of the most ro­bust pre­dic­tors of whether the con­di­tion will be (Frank, 1974). The as­ser­tion of in­cur­abil­ity is thus coun­ter­pro­duc­tive for ther­a­pists, for offen­ders in treat­ment, and for those at­tempt­ing to de­velop and safely eval­u­ate bet­ter meth­ods of in­ter­ven­tion.” [18]

    A large num­ber of re­views and meta-analy­ses sup­port var­i­ous treat­ment meth­ods [71] [72] [73] [74] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80] [81]. Ac­cord­ing to The Cochrane Group, psy­cholog­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions for sex offen­ders are un­sup­ported [82]. Cochrane’s view on the state of the re­search in the area of drug treat­ment re­search is that it’s pretty poor, so they couldn’t draw strong con­clu­sions about it [83]. Ac­cord­ing to other sources, it in­creases effec­tive­ness to use ther­apy and drugs in com­bi­na­tion. [75]

    Treat­ments that have been re­searched:

    1. Cog­ni­tive-be­hav­ioral ther­apy [81] [80] [78] [77] [72] [71]

    2. Hor­monal med­i­ca­tion (ex­am­ples: pro­gesto­gens and an­tian­dro­gens) [81] [75] [72] [71]

    3. Be­havi­our mod­ifi­ca­tion [81]

    4. The re­lapse pre­ven­tion model of ther­apy [76]

    5. Cir­cles of sup­port and ac­countabil­ity [74]

    6. Treat­ment pro­grams that ad­here to what are known as “risk-need-re­spon­sivity prin­ci­ples”. [73]

    7. An­tide­pres­sants have been re­searched for use as a treat­ment [49], [50]. Th­ese do pose a risk of anor­gas­mia, es­pe­cially if the dose is too high. Anor­gas­mia could be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, as frus­tra­tion may in­crease risk. Ad­di­tion­ally, ma­nia is a risk and ma­nia can in­clude dis­in­hi­bi­tion of libido. [56]

    8. Com­bin­ing SSRI with Methylphenidate SR: “Ad­di­tion of methylphenidate SR (mean dose = 40 mg/​day; mean ± SD du­ra­tion = 9.6 ± 8.2 months) was as­so­ci­ated with ad­di­tional statis­ti­cally sig­nifi­cant effects on para­philia/​PRD-re­lated to­tal sex­ual out­let (p = .003) and av­er­age time per day (p = .04) in ad­di­tion to im­prove­ment of pu­ta­tive resi­d­ual ADHD and de­pres­sive symp­toms.” [51]

    My thoughts on ar­eas where more re­search has a chance to be use­ful:

    Im­por­tant: There are pro­fes­sion­als who have more in­sight into this than I do. Definitely do a con­sul­ta­tion with mul­ti­ple ex­perts be­fore spend­ing re­search money to test treat­ments.

    Note on testos­terone re­duc­tion: al­though re­duc­ing testos­terone has been shown to dras­ti­cally re­duce offend­ing, this does not mean high testos­terone is the cause of sex­ual offend­ing. More about this is ex­plained in “Myths and Mis­con­cep­tions about Sex Offen­ders”.

    1. A large SSRI sex­ual side effects sur­vey might be a fast way to iden­tify ex­ist­ing drugs for fur­ther test­ing. A de­scrip­tion from “Myths and Mis­con­cep­tions about Sex Offen­ders” [18]: “the case of a transvestite who had no mo­ti­va­tion to lie about the effi­cacy of treat­ment. Ac­cord­ing to this man (and his wife), while tak­ing bus­pirone (a med­i­ca­tion with pri­mary ac­tion on sero­ton­er­gic au­tore­cep­tors), he was able to func­tion sex­u­ally for the first time in his life with no fetishis­tic stim­uli or fan­tasies. When he stopped the med­i­ca­tion, his de­pen­dence on the ac­tivity or fan­tasy of wear­ing fe­male cloth­ing re­turned (Fe­do­roff, 1988). Since then, there have been nu­mer­ous re­ports of suc­cess­ful treat­ment of the full range of para­philic di­s­or­ders with a va­ri­ety of se­lec­tive sero­ton­er­gic re­up­take in­hibiters (SSRIs) (see Green­berg & Brad­ford, 1997; Fe­do­roff, 1994).”

      In one study, 56% ex­pe­rienced sex­ual side-effects on SSRIs, so there could be a plethora of po­ten­tial treat­ments among them. [52] Some of the sex­ual side effects might be use­less or risky (like anor­gas­mia), but some of them might be helpful.

    2. The “NoFap” method or similar, if there is a way to make it through the ini­tial frus­tra­tion pe­riod safely. (Which is a larger risk? A sex offen­der, or a sex­u­ally frus­trated sex offen­der?)

    3. An herbal sup­ple­ment called Shakuyaku-Kanzo-To might have po­ten­tial, as it was shown to de­crease testos­terone. [53] [54] [55] An al­ter­na­tive op­tion might be im­por­tant for pa­tients who have trou­ble with anti-an­dro­gen side effects.

    4. Testos­terone re­duc­tion surgery. This could be es­pe­cially use­ful if re­duc­ing testos­terone works for a pa­tient but they can’t tol­er­ate med­i­ca­tion side effects. I haven’t checked, but there might be coun­tries where doc­tors offer var­i­ous sur­gi­cal op­tions.

    Re­search­ing treat­ments for sex­ual offend­ing has a chance to be the most cost effec­tive op­tion on a large scale be­cause af­ter the ini­tial re­search is done, the sex offen­ders will pay the costs of di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment them­selves. With in­car­cer­a­tion, tax­pay­ers must keep pay­ing around $30,000 per year per offen­der (not in­clud­ing the costs in­volved in catch­ing them). If 6% of men are rapists as the re­search shows, and there are around 200 mil­lion adults in the U.S., keep­ing ev­ery U.S. sex offen­der in jail would cost at least 180 billion per year. Over the years, this would keep adding up. Treat­ment re­search will definitely cost us less in the long-term, and is prob­a­bly less costly in the short-term too.

  14. En­courage or host dry events and par­ties.

    Ac­cord­ing to a re­search re­view, half of all sex­ual as­sault per­pe­tra­tors are un­der the in­fluence of al­co­hol at the time of the as­sault (this ranges from 30% to 75%, de­pend­ing on the source) [84]. Ad­di­tion­ally, re­searchers have con­sis­tently found a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship be­tween sex­ual as­sault per­pe­tra­tion and heavy drink­ing. The re­view cov­ered three po­ten­tial ex­pla­na­tions for this re­la­tion­ship: one, that al­co­hol causes sex­ual vi­o­lence. Two, that offen­ders drink “liquid courage” in or­der to be­come bold enough to act on ag­gres­sive sex­ual feel­ings. Three, that there is some other as­so­ci­a­tion (for in­stance: that the per­son­al­ities of offen­ders just so hap­pen to make them likely to en­gage in both al­co­hol con­sump­tion and sex­ual vi­o­lence). The re­view found that al­co­hol con­tributes to sex­ual as­sault per­pe­tra­tion in mul­ti­ple, com­plex ways.

    A differ­ent study showed that be­ing re­leased from min­i­mum le­gal drink­ing age re­stric­tions was as­so­ci­ated with “sig­nifi­cant and im­me­di­ate in­creases” in sex­ual as­sault per­pe­tra­tion among men through­out most of Canada. [85]

    From a study on the effec­tive­ness of al­co­hol policy changes: “Al­co­hol policy may rep­re­sent one promis­ing av­enue for the pre­ven­tion of sex­ual vi­o­lence per­pe­tra­tion at the com­mu­nity level, but ad­di­tional re­search is needed.” [86]

    In any case, al­co­hol is not a nec­es­sary com­po­nent of an EA event. Given the pos­si­bil­ity that it might de­crease risk to at­ten­dees, it seems sen­si­ble to have dry events and af­ter par­ties.

  15. If ap­pro­pri­ate, con­sider hav­ing the ac­cused work from home.

    If you don’t have enough cause to fire an em­ployee ac­cused of sex­ual vi­o­lence, keep­ing them away from the work­place might be a doable risk re­duc­tion strat­egy. Some peo­ple ex­pe­rience work­ing from home as a re­ward or pun­ish­ment, and some re­gions may have laws about this, so it could some­times be an in­ap­pro­pri­ate op­tion. If ap­pro­pri­ate, get­ting them out of the office is a way to re­duce the prob­a­bil­ity of sex­ual vi­o­lence in the office.

  16. Cen­tral­ize re­ports so that sur­vivors can ally with each other.

    Sex offen­ders can be quite pro­lific. One offen­der could gen­er­ate a lot of re­ports. If all of these re­ports go to differ­ent au­thor­i­ties, each au­thor­ity may only per­ceive a sin­gle game of he-said-she-said which can­not be re­solved. If all of the re­ports go to the same au­thor­ity, their per­spec­tive may be differ­ent. If sur­vivors ap­proach the same per­son to­gether, they can en­courage an au­thor­ity to as­sign a higher level of pri­or­ity to im­ple­ment­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion meth­ods.

    I would be happy to in­tro­duce sur­vivors of the same offen­der to each other. Un­like some of the other op­tions, I am un­der no pro­fes­sional obli­ga­tions to re­port any crimes or take any ac­tions. I might share anonymized ag­gre­gated in­for­ma­tion like the to­tal num­ber of peo­ple re­port­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence, or, in cases where there are a lot of re­ports against one offen­der, the name of the offen­der (but not the sur­vivors). I will not share a sur­vivor’s name with­out con­sent of the sur­vivor, (nor the name of the offen­der un­less there are a lot of re­ports against them).

    To make a re­port, you can mes­sage me through the effec­tive al­tru­ism fo­rum or find me on Face­book.

    If you want to re­port some­thing to me anony­mously, you can. Anonymity limits what I can do with your re­port be­cause it re­duces the cred­i­bil­ity of the re­port. If you want to re­port some­thing anony­mously any­way, my anony­mous feed­back forms are here:

    Plain one-way feed­back:
    http://​​­mony­​​kathy_forths_anony­mous_feed­back_for­mAnony­mous two-way con­ver­sa­tion form:

    Please be aware that to make a po­lice re­port, you need to visit the po­lice di­rectly. You can re­quest for me to be your ad­vo­cate, but I can­not make a po­lice re­port for you.

  17. Help re­place stereo­types about sex­ual vi­o­lence situ­a­tions with real in­for­ma­tion.

    The Na­tional Vic­tim Cen­ter and Crime Vic­tims Re­search and Treat­ment Cen­ter offer this recom­men­da­tion: “Many widely held stereo­types about rape, who rape vic­tims are and how they re­spond af­ter the as­sault are not ac­cu­rate. The Amer­i­can pub­lic, our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, and ju­rors in rape tri­als should be pro­vided with ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion about these top­ics to elimi­nate mis­con­cep­tions about rape and its vic­tims.” [5]

    Hu­man psy­chol­ogy can be com­pli­cated and sur­pris­ing. Even in life-threat­en­ing situ­a­tions like car ac­ci­dents, a sig­nifi­cant pro­por­tion of peo­ple be­have in a counter-in­tu­itive way. In “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Heal­ing of Trauma”, a book on psy­cholog­i­cal trauma, the au­thor de­scribes an emo­tion­ally de­tached re­sponse that many have to trau­matic events called dis­so­ci­a­tion. [87]

    A few con­fus­ing ex­am­ples to ex­plain why ed­u­ca­tion about this is so im­por­tant:

    Ex­am­ple 1: A man claims that some­one grabbed his bot­tom from be­hind. He didn’t yell in sur­prise or move away. In­stead, he re­mained still. Is he mak­ing a false re­port, or did he freeze in shock?

    Ex­am­ple 2: A woman claims that some­one groped her. Her be­hav­ior seems re­ally strange. Did the sex­ual as­sault trig­ger some kind of men­tal health epi­sode for her or does the pres­ence of symp­toms mean this is a false re­port?

    Ex­am­ple 3: You meet some­one who claims they were raped. You don’t see any bruises or signs of a strug­gle. Does this mean they must have con­sented or that they felt too in­timi­dated to fight back?

    Do sex­ual vi­o­lence sur­vivors ever ex­pe­rience de­nial, try to pre­tend that ev­ery­thing is fine and carry on busi­ness as usual? Do they ever blame them­selves even though it isn’t their fault? If they’re not an­swer­ing ques­tions, could it be be­cause they are too up­set to find the words or can’t make them­selves ac­tu­ally say such hor­rible things out loud?

    Th­ese are the kinds of ques­tions we need to be ask­ing our­selves if we en­counter a sex­ual vi­o­lence sur­vivor who re­sponds in a way that’s differ­ent from the stereo­types we have.

    Only a men­tal health pro­fes­sional with rele­vant ex­pe­rience is qual­ified to make dis­tinc­tions about be­hav­iors like these. If some­one makes a re­port and the de­tails don’t match your stereo­types, con­sider con­sult­ing a psy­chol­o­gist who works with sex­ual vi­o­lence sur­vivors.

    It is not pos­si­ble to do this topic jus­tice in this ar­ti­cle. This topic de­serves an en­tire long ar­ti­cle of it’s own, com­plete with many refer­ences and mul­ti­ple pro­fes­sional opinions.

    Please con­sider this sec­tion to be a very brief in­tro­duc­tion to a com­plex prob­lem.

  18. Ob­ject to pres­sure to go to pri­vate and se­cluded ar­eas alone or with some­one.

    Un­for­tu­nately, it is very com­mon for peo­ple to be sex­u­ally as­saulted by some­one they know such as an ac­quain­tance, friend, date or lover. Re­views of stud­ies done with col­lege women show that be­tween 10% to 25% of women have been raped by some­one they know and that men are tar­geted in 10% of ac­quain­tance rape cases. [88] [89] [90]

    Not only do sex offen­ders run free, some of them man­age to blend in enough to gain the sort of ac­cess nec­es­sary for a sex­ual as­sault.

    If you no­tice that two peo­ple are re­quired to spend time alone to­gether in places where ac­countabil­ity is low, speak up. For ex­am­ples: offices with no win­dows, out-of-the-way meet­ing rooms, ve­hi­cles and ele­va­tors. It doesn’t take long to com­mit a sex offence, de­pend­ing on what type it is. An ele­va­tor ride is eas­ily long enough for a trau­matic event to oc­cur in the form of a grop­ing or frot­teurism. If peo­ple are some­times re­quired to work alone in se­cluded ar­eas, this in­creases risk, too. En­courage man­age­ment to de­crease the risks em­ploy­ees are re­quired to take.

    Never ex­pect any­one to trust some­one, even if you do. A sex offen­der might be­have well around a man, but not a woman, or vice versa. They might have un­ex­pected prefer­ences that don’t match you, but do match your friend. Un­less you have rele­vant qual­ifi­ca­tions, do not ex­pect your­self to be able to tell who is and is not a sex offen­der by guess­ing. Even pro­fes­sion­als can find this challeng­ing.

    Re­spect other peo­ple’s per­sonal se­cu­rity habits, even if you don’t use the same ones. If some­one doesn’t want to take a ride with a per­son they don’t know well, don’t pres­sure them. If some­one doesn’t want to be alone with you, don’t take it per­son­ally.

  19. Join EAs and Ra­tion­al­ists Against Abuse (ERAA) on Face­book.

    There is a group and a page for those tough enough to learn about and op­pose abuse within the EA/​ra­tio­nal­ity so­cial net­work. Even rais­ing your own aware­ness makes a differ­ence. Abusers are not always ob­vi­ous. Many of them try to con­fuse peo­ple into ac­cept­ing harm­ful be­hav­ior. Some abusers are con­fused, them­selves, while oth­ers are just sadis­tic and have no ob­jec­tion to try­ing to hide their sadis­tic na­ture. The more shrewd­ness there is in our net­work, the more acts of abuse will be spot­ted and the more in­stances of con­fu­sion will be re­solved. The more acts of abuse that are spot­ted, the more effec­tive ac­tions can be taken. Some of the abusers who’ve joined us are ed­u­cated and strate­gic. There­fore, the more non-abu­sive, ed­u­cated, strate­gic peo­ple we have in­creas­ing their shrewd­ness, the bet­ter.

    In emer­gen­cies, call an emer­gency num­ber like 911.

    This group is NOT for or­ga­niz­ing vigilante ac­tions. It is ONLY for or­ga­niz­ing effec­tive ac­tions that are also le­gal.

    The page is pub­lic. The group is se­cret to pro­tect the names of the mem­bers. To re­quest ac­cess, con­tact me on Face­book.


The amount of im­pact it’s pos­si­ble to have through in-net­work sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion is high and could be ex­tremely high. In the realm of hu­man rights, sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion has the po­ten­tial to re­duce suffer­ing, de­crease in­equal­ity for ho­mo­sex­u­als, bi­sex­u­als and women, and save lives (be­cause some sur­vivors kill them­selves). In the realm of pro­duc­tivity, up to 80,000 hours of work can be saved for ev­ery 208 peo­ple pro­tected from rape due to the re­lated suicide risk (for the low es­ti­mate). For the high es­ti­mate, up to 80,000 hours of work, at a level equal to a highly pro­duc­tive su­per­star worker (top 1%), might be saved by stop­ping just one sex offen­der ac­cord­ing to a work­ing pa­per from Har­vard.

There is no effec­tive al­tru­ism or­ga­ni­za­tion which spe­cial­izes in sex­ual vi­o­lence re­duc­tion and the prob­lem is too com­plex and un­in­tu­itive to as­sume that peo­ple will be effec­tive by de­fault. Ad­di­tion­ally, there are places in the effec­tive al­tru­ism net­work where there are signs that aware­ness needs to be in­creased.

There are a lot of op­tions that have a chance to suc­ceed. The im­pact could be many times greater than the effort it takes to use the op­tions ex­plored herein. Test­ing is needed to de­ter­mine the effec­tive­ness of the op­tions. Given the hu­man rights con­cerns and the po­ten­tial for a large pro­duc­tivity im­pact, test­ing op­tions could turn out to be very worth­while.

Eval­u­ate Sex­ual Violence Risk Re­duc­tion Options


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20.) The 2015 Sur­vey of Effec­tive Altru­ists: Re­sults and Anal­y­sis

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32.) Not safe for work:

33.) Not safe for work:

34.) Not safe for work:

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