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Rape and Sexual Assault

Rape and Sexual Assault Statistics and Facts

Definition: Sexual Assault and Rape are crimes of violence that use sex as a weapon to overpower and to degrade.

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault encompasses a wide range of behaviors, including rape or attempted rape, as well as other forms of unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact.

Sexual assault can include:

  • Actual or threatened physical force, coercion, intimidation, or pressure
  • Being forced to watch porn against one’s will
  • Being touched against one’s will regardless of what body parts
  • Being prevented from using a condom or other protection during sex

Coercion can include:

  • Using threats (i.e., if you don’t do this, I’ll get you in trouble)
  • Intimidation (with looks, gestures, or body language)
  • Encouraging or forcing a person to drink or do drugs
  • Using a weapon
  • Underlying threat of violence (e.g., if there’s been violence in the past)
  • Not respecting someone saying “no” or “stop”

Non-consensual sexual contact can include:

  • Bring pressured, intimidated or forced  to do sexual things against one’s will
  • Being incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol
  • Changing mind about engaging in sexual activity

What is Rape?

Rape, a specific type of sexual assault, involves any forced, manipulated, or coerced penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth, by a penis, finger or other object.

Legal definitions of rape vary from state to state, but most states define rape as non-consensual sexual penetration.

A rapist can be a stranger or someone the victim knows including a spouse, date, or family member.

Anyone can be a victim of rape or sexual assault including men, women, and persons who are gender-non conforming or transgender.



Statistics and Facts

Rape and Sexual Assault Statistics

Statistics describing the prevalence of rape and sexual assault vary due to differences in definitions and methods used from study to study.

  • 1 in 5 women experience sexual violence during their lifetime. (CDC, 2015)
  • 1 in 14 men experience sexual violence during their lifetime. (CDC, 2015)
    • Data on sexual violence against men may be underreported.
  • 25.5 million women and 7.9 million men experience sexual violence in their lifetime (CDC, 2015)

Perpetrators of Rape and Sexual Assault

  • Most individuals who have experienced sexual violence report the offender was someone they knew. (CDC, 2010)
    • Almost half (46.7%) of women who have experienced sexual violence report the offender was an acquaintance, while the other half (45.4%) report the offender was an intimate partner. (CDC, 2014)

Prevalence of Rape and Sexual Assault

  • 81% of female victims report the sexual violence occurred prior to age 25. (CDC, 2015)
  • 71% of male victims report the sexual violence occurred prior to age 25. (CDC, 2015)
  • Women between the ages of 18 and 24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault victimizations. (BJS, 2014)
  • 12% of female victims and 26% of male victims report the sexual violence occurred before the age of 10. (CDC, 2015)
  • Rape and sexual assault go largely underreported. (NJC, 2014)
    • 33.6% of rape and sexual assaults are reported to the police. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2014)

Barbara Ellis: Embodying the Safe Horizon Vision

For over a decade, Director of the Manhattan-Bronx Community Program Barbara Ellis has helped survivors of all violence, including rape and sexual assault. Read how her approach to work embodies Safe Horizon's mission and vision.
Read About Barbara →

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