The Sexual Sadist

The essential feature of sexual sadism is not in the feeling of sexual excitement resulting from the infliction of true pain on the victim, but rather it is from witnessing his or her suffering.


There are several types of rapists ranging anywhere from the opportunistic to the sexually sadistic to the gang rapist. The anger-excitation rapist, also referred to as the sexually sadistic rapist, is the most dangerous. These sadistic rapists actually despise women; considering them as bitches, sluts and whores. He seeks complete control over this enemy. He has a plan that he knows how to execute, and will do it over and over for as long as he can get away with it. The torture will intensify if he has the time. He rehearses every detail, and he has all of the necessary equipment to play out and his fantasies.

David Parker Ray is suspected by police to have murdered as many as sixty people in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Ray tortured and killed his victims in a $100,000 homemade torture chamber he called his "toy box" that contained a gynecological exam table and was equipped with whips, chains, pulleys, straps, clamps, leg spreader bars, an electronic generating device, a motorized breast stretcher box, as well as surgical blades and saws. A closed circuit television and camera were wired into the torture chamber so that a victim could be forced to watch their own torture. Along with numerous sex toys and torture implements there was a shocking device that was used in torture.

Another prolific serial sexual sadist murderer, James DeBardeleben, wrote out several hundred pages of note, creating a how to workbook for complete sexual control and domination. His "advice" included:

  • Get your satisfaction early
  • Isolate her and keep her dependent
  • Make all decisions
  • Prevent her from acquiring any skills
  • Don't let her get educated or have any power
  • Be ready to cut her loose if necessary
  • Never show weakness

DeBardeleben even offered his own definition of sadism: "the central impulse to have complete mastery over another person, to make him/her a helpless object of our will, to become her god." Sexual sadists frequently have violent fantasies that begin in childhood, however the onset of actual sadistic behaviors most often occur in early adult life. Once the sadistic behaviors begin, it will invariably continue on a chronic course. Acts of sexual sadism tend to grow more bizarre or violent over time. However, as male sadists grow older their ability to commit such acts decrease. Sexual sadism is rarely diagnosed in men over fifty. The prognosis is poor; there is no cure for sexual sadism; and an effective therapy and/or psychotropic medication regimen has not been developed.

Law Enforcement and the Sexual Sadist

Former FBI profiler Robert Hazelwood offers the following suggestions and tips for investigating a sexual sadist:

If, as a law enforcement officer, you are involved in a case with a suspected criminal sexual sadist realize that they can be, and often are, quite noteworthy adversaries. These criminals are psychopathic; cunning and sophisticated liars. The sadist views himself as more intelligent than the rest of society, especially law enforcement personnel. Additionally, he has usually mastered the art of deception. Even if he is confronted with hard evidence he will invariably rationalize his actions. He will not be moved by pleas for compassion; he is unable to feel guilt or remorse.

Finding witnesses to come forward can be a challenge as the sadist is sometimes able to force a victim into a compliant partner. Additionally, many victims may be unwilling to provide information due to the embarrassing nature of the crimes committed against them. Your best sources of information will come from ex-girlfriends and former spouses; they ended their relationship with the sadist usually due to his sexual fantasies and behaviors targeted towards them.

The search warrant will be one of your most effective tools. Sexual sadists ritualistically keep mementos from their victims, crime paraphernalia, written or audio/visual recordings of their crimes, weapons and other torture devices, and camera or video equipment; all of these items should be listed in your warrant. Additionally, the sexual sadist is usually a collector of pornography, women's underwear, sexual toys, detective magazines, and bondage paraphernalia.

Interviewing the sexual sadist is frequently difficult and exhausting. The interviewer should know everything possible about the suspect, including his strengths and weaknesses, prior to the initial questioning. Sexual sadists will frequently be agreeable to an in interview with law enforcement, even after being advised of their rights. They fully believe that they have the ability to outwit the detective and are convinced they will not divulge any incriminating information. More importantly, they expect to learn more about the status of the investigation during the interview.

  • Enhance your experience.

    Thank you for your regular readership of and visits to Officer.com. To continue viewing content on this site, please take a few moments to fill out the form below and register on this website.

    Registration is required to help ensure your access to featured content, and to maintain control of access to content that may be sensitive in nature to law enforcement.