Sexual Assault Prevalence

Sexual assault occurs all over the world and is present in all social, economic, ethnic, racial, religious, and age groups. While both men and women can be victimized by sexual assault, women are statistically more likely than men to experience such an incident. For example, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS), over three hundred thousand women and almost ninety-three thousand men are raped in the United States each year.3 One of every six women and one in thirty-three men in the United States has been raped at some time in her or his life, with many of these individuals experiencing more than one rape incident over their lifetimes. Approximately 80% of women experience sexual assault, including unwanted verbal or physical coercion, while approximately 25% of women experience rape or attempted rape.4 Another study found that 22% of women and 3.8% of men reported having experienced sexual assault as an adult.5 Of the sexual assault victims in the 2006 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), 89.3% were female compared with 10.7% male.6 While both women and men can perpetrate sexual assault, men are statistically more likely than women to be sexual assault perpetrators. The NVAWS found that almost all of the female victims (99.6%) and the vast majority of male victims (85.2%) were raped by men.3 Thus, the most typical sexual assault scenario involves a female victim and a male perpetrator.

Research indicates that most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, also known as acquaintance rape. The NCVS found that approximately 38% of the sexual assaults reported in 2006 were perpetrated by strangers, while 62% were perpetrated by someone known to the victim.6 Rapes committed by strangers occurred in only 16.7% of the female victim cases and 22.8% of the male victim cases reported in the NVAWS. The NCVS also found that 58% of male victims and 64% of female victims knew their offender.7 Female victims are more likely to be raped by a current or former intimate partner (often referred to as date rape or marital rape) than are male victims, who are more likely to be raped by acquaintances.8

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