Sexual assault statistics paint a horrifying picture

Feather Publishing


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

As distasteful as this editorial might appear to some readers, the following statistics are a grim, but necessary, reminder that millions of Americans are victims of sexual assault every year — often by someone they know.

A sexual assault is one of the most terrifying events that can occur in anyone’s life, and the statistics are staggering. According to, one in four college women report surviving a rape or an attempted rape since their 14th birthday.

Twenty percent of women reportedly answered yes to the question, “In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?” Thus, one in five college women report being raped at some point in her lifetime.

A national survey of high school students revealed nearly the same results. Half of these girls told no one about the incident.

Can men be raped? The answer is yes, and 3 percent of college men report surviving a rape or an attempted rape as a child or adult.

It’s probably not surprising that 99 percent of the perpetrators are men, but it is surprising that most survivors knew their attackers. While 8 percent of men admit committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape, 84 percent of them deny their actions were rape.

More than one in five men report that they were not able stop themselves from having sex, even though the woman did not consent. And a startling 35 percent of men report at least some degree of likelihood of raping if they could be assured they wouldn’t be caught or punished.

It appears that sexual assault may be learned behavior, as many sexual assault offenders report experiencing physical or sexual abuse as children.

Many rapes occur when the victims least expect it. According to the website, 57 percent of rapes occur on dates, and 75 percent of the men and 55 percent of the women involved in acquaintance rapes were drinking or taking drugs just before the attack.

More than half of all sexual assault incidents occurred within 1 mile of the victim’s home or in the victim’s home.

Through the last 10 years, the National Crime Victimization Survey has reported only 30 percent of rape victims report the incident to the police. Of those assaults reported to the police, only 16 percent result in prison sentences. Therefore, a man who rapes ends up in prison just 5 percent of the time.

The effect on the victim can be profound — 82 percent of victims say the sexual assault permanently changed them.

These statistics are mind-numbing. As a society, we must strive to do better. No one in this country should live in fear of assault. And we need to make sure the perpetrators are punished.

It begins with acknowledging that this is a problem. Let’s work toward fixing it.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Resource Center’s 24 hour/seven days a week hotline: 283-4333, or toll-free at 877-215-7273.

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