Research on rape - the crime most feared by women, according to opinion polls - has typically focused on the victims rather than on the perpetrators of the crime. This approach has helped to support the prevailing "disease" model of rape, which argues that sexual violence is a psychopathologically isolated, idiosyncratic act limited to a few "sick" men. In understanding sexual violence, Diana Scully presents a direct challenge to this view, arguing instead that sexual violence is sociocultural in origin - that, like any other behaviour, men learn to rape. Based on nearly 800 hours of face-to-face interviews with over 100 convicted rapists, this book deals directly with men who have committed rape and what they have to say about what they have done. Understanding sexual violence begins with an inside look at Scully's experiences in conducting the research for this study. She then describes the goals that these men learned to achieve through sexually violent means, examining structural supports for rape in sexually violent cultures and dispelling a number of myths about sexual violence - for example, that childhood abuse, alcohol, and drugs are direct causes of rape. Scully also argues that the currently held view of rape as a crime of violence, not of sex, is simply wrong - for some men, rape is sex, and indeed, sex is rape. Finally, Scully concludes with a discussion of what the rapists themselves had to say about rape avoidance.