National Statistics on Sexual Violence

Definitions

Sexual Assault

A general term that includes sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact, child sexual abuse, incest, and rape. Sexual contact becomes assault when a person is unable to or does not consent to an activity.

Rape

A crime of aggression, power, and control in which one person forces, coerces, or manipulates another person to have sexual intercourse without their consent. Rape includes vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by any object (including fingers) and also includes forced oral sex.

Rape and sexual assault are crimes. Even if you know the person, you trusted the person, you have had sex before, you didn’t fight back, it happened a long time ago, or you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, sex without your consent is rape. It is wrong and it is illegal.

Facts & Figures

One in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

 

One in six women and one in thirty-three men will experience attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

 

In eight out of ten rape cases, the victim knows the perpetrator.

 

One in every seven victims of sexual assault is under the age of six.

 

One in four victims of sexual assault under the age of twelve is a boy.

 

13.3% of college women indicate that they have been forced to have sex in a dating situation.

 

Nearly six out of ten sexual assaults occur in the victim’s home or the home of a friend, relative, or neighbor.

 

Sexual assault is the violent crime that is least often reported to law enforcement officials. A 2000 study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that only 28% of victims report their sexual assault to the police.

Only about 2% of all sexual assault accusations reported to police turn out to be false. This is the same rate of false reporting as other types of violent crime.

 

In 29% of rapes, the offender used a weapon.

 

Among developmentally disabled adults, up to 83% of females and 32% of males are victims of sexual violence.

 

In a study of elderly female sexual abuse victims, 81% of abuse was perpetrated by the victim’s primary caregiver. 78% was perpetrated by family members, of whom 39% were sons.

 

Victims of rape and attempted rape who did not report to the police did not report for a number of reasons. 43% of victims did not report because they thought that nothing could be done, 27% thought it was a private matter, 12% were afraid of the police response, and 12% felt it was not important enough to report.

 

Each year, an estimated 25,000 American women will become pregnant following an act of sexual violence. As many as 22,000 of those pregnancies could be prevented through the prompt use of emergency contraception.

Sources

National statistics were collected from various publications through credible sources such as the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics (National Crime Victimization Surveys), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. This page is under maintenance and may change to reflect new data.

Myth vs. Fact

MYTH:

Sexual assault is provoked by the victim’s actions, behaviors, or by the way they dress.

 

FACT:

Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault. Sexual assault is a violent attack on an individual, not a spontaneous crime of sexual passion. For a victim, it is a humiliating and degrading act. No one “asks for” or deserves this type of attack.

 


 

MYTH:

Sexual assaults only occur in dark alleys and isolated areas.

 

FACT:

A sexual assault can happen anywhere and at any time. The majority of assaults occur in places ordinarily thought to be safe, such as homes, cars and offices.

 


 

MYTH:

Sexual assault results from an uncontrollable impulsive sexual urge.

 

FACT:

Sexual assault is motivated by hostility, power and control. Sexual assaults are not motivated by sexual desire. Humans are capable of controlling how they choose to act on or express sexual urges.

MYTH:

People who commit sexual assaults are obviously creepy, abnormal perverts, or people who could be easily identified and avoided.

 

FACT:

Sexual offenders are “ordinary” and “normal” individuals who come from all educational, occupational, racial, and cultural backgrounds. You cannot pick a sex offender out of a crowd. This myth exemplifies our cultural tendency to blame victims – it is not the case that victims are assaulted because they failed to spot an obvious perpetrator.

 


 

MYTH:

Men cannot be victims of sexual violence.

 

FACT:

Men can be and are victims of sexual violence. Approximately one in six men will be victims of sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. Being a victim of sexual violence does not make a man less “manly” and does not have implications for his sexual orientation.

 


 

MYTH:

Women cannot be sex offenders.

 

FACT:

An overwhelming majority of sex offenders are male, but it is possible for women to be perpetrators of rape and sexual violence, even against men.