A systematic qualitative review of risk and protective factors for sexual violence perpetration

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2013 Apr;14(2):133-67. doi: 10.1177/1524838012470031. Epub 2012 Dec 27.


The current review summarized results of 191 published empirical studies that examined the risk and protective factors for sexual violence perpetration. Studies in the review examined factors for perpetration by and against adolescents and adults, by male and female perpetrators, and by those who offended against individuals of the same sex or opposite sex. Factors associated with child sexual abuse (CSA) perpetration were not included. In all, 2 societal and community factors, 23 relationship factors, and 42 individual-level factors were identified. Of these 67 factors, consistent significant support for their association with SV was found for 35, nonsignificant effects were found for 10, 7 factors had limited or sample-specific evidence that they were associated with SV but were in need of further study, and 15 demonstrated mixed results. The factors identified in the review underscore the need for comprehensive prevention programs that target multiple risk and protective factors as well as factors that occur across the social ecology. Moreover, we identified two domains of factors--the presence and acceptance of violence and unhealthy sexual behaviors, experiences, or attitudes--that had consistent significant associations with SV but are not typically addressed in prevention programs. Therefore, SV prevention may also benefit from learning from effective strategies in other areas of public health, namely sexual health and youth violence prevention.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Offenses / prevention & control*
  • Violence / prevention & control*