Sexual assault statistics reveal why it’s a community problem

A review of the latest and first state level sexual assault statistics by CDC and other organizations, and previous crime data from DOJ, reveal sexual violence is a widespread public safety and public health problem every community faces

According to Youth Specialties, a nationwide Christian youth-focused organization, date rape is the most common form of rape, where 1 in 4 girls and women are expected to fall victim to rape or attempted rape before they reach 25. Sexual assault statistics reveal that millions of Americans that have or will be victims to sexual violence experience their attacks in their relationships or in places of familiarity in their communities.

According to the the Support, Advocacy Resource Center (SARC), serving Richland, Kennewick and Pasco, Washington:

Three out of five rapes will occur before age 18.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published data analysis on sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence victimization (available below to review and download) and offer some of the most recent sexual assault statistics based on coordinated federal research. It is also the first research to offer state level data on reported sexual violence incidence.

CDC indicates the results show a significant burden of these forms of violence in the lives of Americans, particularly youth.

The findings are based on National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) -- an ongoing, national random-digit dial telephone survey -- data from 2010 to 2012. CDC developed NISVS to better describe and monitor the magnitude of sexual violence and to evaluate the impact of national, state and local prevention efforts.

Twenty-seven to 44 states reported during the survey period. The data revealed numerous findings, including the following:

  • Of all female victims of completed rape, 41 percent reported that it first occurred prior to age 18 with 30 percent reporting first victimization occurring between ages 11 and 17.
  • Of all male victims of made to penetrate victimization, 24 percent reported that it first occurred prior to age 18 with 20 percent reporting first victimization occurring between ages 11 and 17.

Various charts in the lengthy report (available to review and download, below) estimate victims of everything from stalking and unwanted sexual contact to intimate partner violence and completed rape number into millions of Americans. Data is shown state-by-state.

Nearly 23 million women and 1.7 million men have been the victims of completed or attempted rape at some point in their life,” concluded CDC.

Previous U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) studies offered a complicated picture of sexual assault statistics.

The DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) sexual assault statistics data is presented through various criminal victimization studies. In terms of intimate partner violence, including sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault, these crimes against females fell 72 percent from 1994 to 2011. Sexual violence against women declined 60 percent from 1995 to 2010, according to an agency press release.

“In 1995, 28 percent of rape or sexual assault victimizations against females were reported to the police. This percentage increased to 59 percent in 2003 before declining to 32 percent in 2010,” according to BJS.

BJS also concluded that between 2006 and 2010, 3.4 million violent crimes per year, including sexual assault went unreported, based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (conducted through 2016).

CDC considers sexual violence a widespread public health problem.

“Significantly more women and men with a history of sexual violence or stalking by any perpetrator, or physical violence by an intimate partner” -- compared to women and men without history of violence -- reported:

  • Asthma
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Frequent headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Difficulty sleeping,
  • Limitations in their activities

Beyond fear and safety concerns, 52 percent of female victims and 17 percent of male victims experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Based on the Journal of Traumatic Stress, 1992, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) indicates 94 percent of female rape victims experience PTSD within two weeks following rape.


via SARC

CDC concluded that efforts to prevent sexual violence should start early, and continue through adolescence and into adulthood. Further, public health should partner with education, justice, social services and other sectors to implement sexual violence prevention efforts.

Consider that between 80 - 90 percent of sexual assault victims know their attackers, according to SARC. Whether its in their relationships or in regular everyday activities, sexual assault statistics reveal that incidents of sexual violence are not random acts by unknown assailants in crime-ridden areas. Men and women, boys and girls, often become victims of sexual assault in community settings -- anywhere in America.

Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, according to RAINN. It’s a challenge for both public safety and public health officials on local, state and national levels.

Review and download the CDC sexual assault statistics report published in 2017:

NISVS-StateReportBook by Ed Praetorian on Scribd

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.