Sexual Assault Statistics

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Sexual Assault Statistics


By: Men Against Sexual Assault

Date: 2003

Source: Men Against Sexual Assault at the University of Rochester. "Sexual Assault Statistics." 〈〉 (March 13, 2006).

About the Author : Men Against Sexual Assault (MASA) is an advocacy and activist organization that started near the end of the twentieth century at the University of Rochester in New York. Its stated mission was to put an end to sexual violence against women through edu-cation and public dissemination of information regarding violent crimes against women. Although their initial target audience was exclusively male, they provide educational materials (brochures, seminars, workshops, and the like) without regard to gender.


The University of Rochester chapter of Men Against Sexual Assault (MASA) was started by a woman and a group of four men in 1997 to empower men to end violence against women. Their aim was to begin at a grassroots level and spread their message across the campus primarily through workshops and campus discussion groups. Within a relatively short period of time, the group shifted from faculty to student leadership, and broadened its target audience enormously through the use of the Internet. By creating an informational Web site, the group has been able to reach beyond the University of Rochester to support and encourage other student groups involved in the movement to end violence and sexual assault against women.

The Internet has revolutionized much of American (and global) culture. It has, in particular, provided a forum for heretofore local interest groups who can now use the World Wide Web to spread their message across the globe, reaching potentially tens of millions of viewers in seconds (or less). Where private interest groups might once have had to hold many meetings, send out mass mailings, put up posters and flyers, engage local media, and canvass whole areas to spread their particular message, they can now accomplish far more with keywords, blogs, and links to professionally (and often inexpensively) created websites.

Through the Internet groups can attract new members, communicate with a nearly unlimited audience, catalyze vast numbers of people to change behaviors or perform specific advocacy actions, and attract global funding. Groups can exist with limited space, staffing, or resources—other than a computer with internet access, a printer, adequate software, and a webmaster. The Internet also offers the unprecedented ability to disseminate swift and targeted responses to queries or information requests. In the past, it would have been necessary to return telephone calls or to provide written responses via the postal system (now referred to as "snail mail"); responses can now be nearly instantaneous.


Occurrence of Rape

Rape is a serious problem in the United States today. The United States has the highest rape rate among countries which report such statistics. It is 4 times higher than that of Germany, 13 times higher than that of England and 20 times higher than that of Japan.

Above is a chart showing the estimated rape rate per 100,000 people in the United States between 1960 and 1998. The rape rate in the US in 1998 was 34.4 per 100,000 persons. In 1997 there was a decrease of 7% in the overall crime rate, but the rate of rape and sexual assault did not decline at all. (National Crime Victimization Survey, 1997)

Women are 10 times more likely than men to be victims of sexual assault (National Crime Victimization Survey, 1997). A study among college women has shown that 1 out of every 5 college age women report being forced to have sexual intercourse. (1995 National College Health Risk Behavior Survey) 22% of all women say that they have been forced to do sexual things against their will, where only 3% of men admit to ever forcing themselves on a woman. (Laumann, 1994)

Reporting Statistics

Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992). In 1995 there were 97,460 rapes reported to law enforcement officials. At a 16% reporting rate, this means that there were actually closer to 649,733 rapes in the United States. Along the same lines, the number of rapes reported in New York state in 1996 was 20,911. At a 16% reporting rate, this means the actual number of rapes was closer to 139,406. (Computerized Criminal History, Feb. 1998)

The rate of false reports of rape is approximately 2-3% which is no different than that for other crimes. This is different than the 8% of reports which are unfounded. This means that in 8% of the rape cases reported the investigators or prosecutors deemed that the case was not prosecutable for any number of reasons. Only 2-3% of the reports however were fabricated stories.

Victim Characteristics

1 in 3 sexual assault victims are under the age of 12 (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999) and convicted rape and sexual assault offenders report that 2/3 of their victims were under the age of 18. Among victims age 18-29, two thirds had a prior relationship with the rapist. (National Crime Victimization Survey, Criminal Victimization, 1996)

18% of women who reported being raped before age 18 said they were also raped after age 18. (Violence Against Women Survey, 1998)

Perpetrator Characteristics

In 1997, 68.3% were perpetrated by someone who knew the victim. (Bureau of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey, 1997) 78% of women raped or physically assaulted since they turned 18 were assaulted by a current or former husband, live-in partner or date. 17% were victimized by an acquaintance, 9% by a relative other than a husband and only 14% were assaulted by a stranger. (National Violence Against Women Survey, 1998)

Assault Characteristics

Rape and sexual assault are not crimes that usually occur in dark alleys or in deserted areas at night. As a matter of fact 6 out of 10 sexual assaults occur in the home of the victim or the home of a friend, neighbor or relative. (Greenfeld, 1997) 43.4% of rapes and sexual assaults occur between the hours of 6PM and midnight Greenfeld, 1997) and about two thirds occur between the hours of 6 PM and 6 AM (Greenfeld, 1997).

Impact of Rape

Rape is a violent crime which has many severe effects on the victim both in the long term and in the short term. For example, 36% of women who are injured during a rape require medical attention (National Violence Against Women Survey, Nov.1998). 25-45% of rape survivors suffer from non-genital trauma, 19-22% suffer from genital trauma, up to 40% obtain STDs and 1-5% become pregnant as a result of the rape. There are an estimated 32,000 rape related pregnancies in the United States annually. (Holmes, 1996) Sexual assault survivors' visits to their physicians increase by 18% the year of the assault, 56% the year after and 31% the second year after the assault. (Koss, 1993)

The consequences of rape are not always physical though, and are not always immediate. 80% of rape victims will suffer from chronic physical or psychological conditions over time. (Strategies for the Treatment and Prevention of Sexual Assault. 1995) Rape survivors are also 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than not crime victims and 6 times more likely than victims of other crimes. (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation, 1992) 26% of women with bulimia nervosa were raped at some point in their lives. The mental health costs of sexual assault victims are very high, studies have shown that 25-50% of rape and child sexual abuse victims receive some sort of mental health treatment as a result of the victimization. (Miller, 1996)

Overall, rape has the highest annual victim cost of any crime. The annual victim costs are $127 billion (excluding child sex abuse cases). This is followed by assault at $93 billion per year, murder (excluding arson and drunk driving) at $61 billion and child abuse at $56 billion per year. (Miller, 1996)

Conviction and Sentencing

Less than half of those arrested for rape are convicted, 54% of all rape prosecutions end in either dismissal or acquittal. The conviction rate for those arrested for murder is 69% and all other felons is 54%. (The Response to Rape: Detours on the Road to Equal Justice) 21% of convicted rapists are never sentenced to jail or prison time, and 24% receive time in local jail which means that they spend an average of less than 11 months behind bars. (The Response to Rape: Detours on the Road to Equal Justice)


Men Against Sexual Assault is a relatively new version of a paradigm that got its start in the United States during the second wave of feminism in the 1970s. One of the earliest organizations created in concert with feminism was the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS). During the 1970s there was an upsurge in the creation of men's studies programs at colleges and universities, as well as limited participation by males in women's studies programs. A series of annual conferences on men and masculinity were held at college campuses, which grew into a somewhat amorphous nonorganization based on support for feminism as well as nonstereotypic, gay-affirmative ideas of masculinity.

Over time, the group evolved into an antisexist group first called the National Organization for Changing Men, later renamed NOMAS. Although it has many goals and objectives, central among them are activism to encourage the abolition of sexism and the establishment of a system that they consider true equality: racial, gender, cultural, religious and spiritual, sexual—affectional orientation, social class, and the like. The group is explicitly profeminist, antiracist, and gay affirming.

In addition to encouraging men to take significant responsibility for ending violence of all types, advocacy groups dedicated to the eradication of violence against women challenge stereotypic concepts of masculinity with an explicit assumption that cultural pressures on men to embody traditional ideals of masculinity have led to social acceptance, and inherent decriminalization, of the violence and brutality of rape and sexual assault.

Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) is another large group utilizing both traditional forms of local activism and the Internet to spread its message. It began in the 1980s as a profeminist organization dedicated to ending male violence toward women. By the end of the twentieth century it had grown in size and political stature to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to ending violence of all kinds, and to the creation of a peaceful society characterized by justice and equality. The group teaches that it is not necessary to control or to dominate others, that violence is not a necessary behavior, and that compassion and nonviolence are characteristics of people with bravery and integrity. MCSR aims to prevent the development of violence and to create an atmosphere supportive of positive social change.



Goldrick-Jones, Amanda. Men Who Believe in Feminism. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger 2002.

McLean, Christopher, Maggie Carey, and Cheryl White, eds. Men's Ways of Being. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press 1996.

Web sites

National Organization for Men Against Sexism. "A Brief History of NOMAS" 〈〉 (accessed March 13, 2006).

Men Against Sexual Assault at the University of Rochester. "About Men Against Sexual Assault." 〈〉 (accessed March 13,2006).

Chronicle of Philanthropy: Philanthropy Careers. "Advocacy Groups Discover the Power of Blogs to Spread Their Messages." 〈〉 (accessed March 13, 2006).

Inlet. "National Advocacy Groups." 〈〉 (accessed March 13, 2006).

Men Can Stop Rape. "Making Our Communities Stronger." 〈〉 (accessed March 13, 2006).

University of Southern California. Annenberg Online Journalism Review. "Net Changes Game of Political Advocacy for Groups on the Right and Left." 〈〉 (accessed March 13, 2006).

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Sexual Assault Statistics

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