Victims of Sexual
Violence: Statistics

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Sexual violence refers to any form of unwanted sexual act. This includes successful or attempted acts occurring physically or online.

Although some demographics are at a higher risk, sexual violence can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity—men, women, and children can all be victims of sexual violence. It happens in homes, schools, prisons, the military, and other public places and institutions.

Sexual violence is a huge worldwide issue. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, sexual assault occurs every 73 seconds for adults and every nine minutes for children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that nearly one-third of women worldwide report sexual violence at some point in their lives.

Most acts of sexual violence are never reported. Fear of retaliation and embarrassment often cause victims to remain silent instead of reporting the crime. Sexual violence is particularly difficult to stop because offenders so rarely face consequences.

Here is a comprehensive list of the most recent sexual violence statistics by category. A study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Studies concluded that 10% of college women who were sexually victimized suffered penetration, which is forcible rape.

Is sexual violence common?

Unfortunately, sexual violence is extremely common in the U.S. and abroad. It can take many different forms, ranging from sexual harassment (e.g., catcalling) to sexual assault (e.g., rape).

Common forms of sexual violence include:

  • Nonconsensual sexual contact
  • Rape
  • Assault
  • Sexual harassment
  • Stalking or cyberstalking
  • Peeping
  • Exposure
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Threats

Any behavior involving violence or coercion that is sexual in nature can be considered a form of sexual violence.

Sexual violence is pervasive, yet it’s often not reported or even disclosed to a victim’s close friends or family. Over one in three women and one in four men experience some form of sexual violence involving physical contact throughout their lives.

Statistics from the U.S. show that there were 319,950 reported rapes and sexual assaults in 2020. Countless more went unreported. In 2018, 734,630 incidents of rape and sexual assault were reported in the U.S. The significant reduction in reported rapes from 2018 to 2020 may be due to quarantine restrictions and shutdowns caused by the pandemic.

Both men and women are more likely to be raped by someone they know. Out of reported rapes, 51.1% of women were raped by an intimate partner and another 40.8% were raped by an acquaintance. For men, 52.4% were raped by an acquaintance, while only 15.1% were raped by a stranger.

Who can be a victim of
sexual violence?

Anyone can be a victim of sexual violence. The demographics for sexual violence victims span all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Victims range from young children to elderly adults.

Women are more likely to be the victims of sexual violence, but men are frequently targeted as well. Data shows that 81% of women experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes, compared to only 34% of men. However, men are far less likely to report sexual violence when it occurs.

Disabled individuals are at a particularly high risk of becoming victims of sexual assault. Thirty-nine percent of female victims of rape had a disability at the time of the assault.

Men with disabilities are more likely to be victims of other types of sexual violence, including forced penetration and unwanted touching. Around 24% of male victims who experienced forms of sexual violence other than rape had a disability at the time of the incident.

Sexual assault of nursing home residents is an understudied and underreported area. Nursing home residents are a particularly vulnerable portion of the elderly population, and they are especially susceptible to sexual violence.

Ten percent of nursing home abuse cases were related to sexual abuse. In three-quarters of reported nursing home sexual violence cases, the perpetrator is a staff member.

Anyone can become a victim of sexual violence. The following statistics showcase the rates of sexual violence among the most impacted demographics.

Sexual violence statistics
on women

Women form the largest demographic of people who experience sexual violence.

In the U.S., one in five women experiences completed or attempted rape during her lifetime. An estimated 18 million women in the U.S. have been victims of vaginal rape.

Around 3 million women in the U.S. have experienced rape-related pregnancy (RRP). The frequency of RRP has a similar incidence rate across racial and ethnic demographics.

One in five women experiences attempted or completed sexual assault during college.

Sexual violence statistics
on men

Sexual violence against men is less visible, less discussed, and less reported than sexual violence against women. However, it is a serious issue that occurs with high frequency.

Nearly a quarter of men surveyed experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes.

For men, first-time sexual assaults is split fairly evenly between childhood and adulthood. About 48.7% of men reported that their first sexual assault occurred as an adult, while 51.3% reported of first assaults occurring in childhood.

One in 38 men in the U.S. experiences completed or attempted rape during his lifetime. In the U.S., one in 14 men is forced to perform penetration during his lifetime.

Sexual violence statistics
on children

One study conducted on 155 adolescent girls showed that 81% of the girls experienced sexual violence.S. and around the world. Statistics on children include any sexual activity with someone under the age of 18.

Children are legally regarded as being developmentally unable to give informed consent to sexual activity. Oftentimes, children do not comprehend that abuse is occurring when they are victims of sexual violence.

Childhood sexual abuse is one the most difficult areas to accurately assess prevalence. Global taboos and traditions contribute to serious underreporting. Children may not disclose abuse, and it frequently goes unreported even when they do.

Studies suggest that nearly half of all children who are victims of sexual abuse experience revictimization, or recurring incidents of sexual violence during their lifetimes.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that in 91% of child sexual abuse cases in the U.S., the perpetrator is a family member or a family acquaintance.

In the U.S., one in four girls and one in thirteen boys experience sexual abuse at some point in childhood.

Among reported sexual violence stats in the U.S., one in eight women and one in four men report that rape first occurred before the age of 10. Additionally, one in three women and one in four men report they were first raped between the ages of 11 and 17.

The WHO estimates that the global average for sexual violence against children has an incidence rate of 27% among girls and 14% among boys.

Sexual violence statistics by
race

Multiple studies have shown similarities in the rates of sexual violence against women regardless of race or ethnicity. For both black women and white women, about one in five experience rape at least once in a lifetime.

The numbers for Hispanic women are slightly lower, with about one in seven experiencing rape in their lifetime. However, Hispanic women are more likely to experience sexual harassment.

According to statistics, black men are less likely to report sexual assault than white men, while Hispanic men are more likely to report sexual harassment than white men.

Among Asian American women of Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese heritage, studies reported that 14.3% experienced rape at some point in their lifetimes.

When people with Native American, First Nations, and Alaska Native heritage were surveyed, 56.1% of women and 27.5% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes.

Between 2012 and 2015, there were no significant differences in the rates of victimizations reported to police by white, black, and Hispanic individuals.

Sexual violence statistics
in the military

In the RAND Military Workplace Study, one of the largest military surveys conducted, 22% of women and 7% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment or gender discrimination in the military in the year preceding the survey.

An additional 5% of women and 1% of men involved in the RAND study reported experiencing sexual assault in the military in the year leading up to the survey.

Based on the survey, the study estimated that 20,300 servicemen and women experienced some form of sexual assault, and 116,600 were sexually harassed in the past year.

Of the men who experienced military sexual assault, 34% described the assault as related to hazing.

Between 2016 and 2018, there was a 38% increase in sexual violence in the military.

The Department of Defense releases an annual report on sexual assault in the military. In 2020, there were 7,816 reports received. However, the Pentagon estimates that only one-third of military assaults are reported.

Sexual violence statistics
in prison

The rates of sexual violence and reporting in prisons vary widely between facilities. This can lead to wide differentials in statistics that measure the frequency of prison sexual violence.

Statistics from the Bureau of Justice show that sexual violence among the incarcerated is one of the most underreported demographics, with an estimated 65% of incidents going unreported.

According to the Bureau of Justice, 3.1% of state-prison inmates report sexual victimization by either staff or other inmates in a single year. Among those who reported sexual victimization, 31% reported multiple incidents.

Certain commonalities exist between different studies. Younger inmates and new arrivals are most at risk of experiencing sexual violence in prison.

Some studies have shown that sexual violence in prison is more likely to occur against men than women, and men are more likely to be the victim of sexual violence perpetrated by a staff member.

Other studies have shown that inmate-on-inmate sexual violence is four times more likely for female inmates than for males.

LGBTQ inmates are at particularly high risk of experiencing sexual violence in prison. Among LGBTQ inmates studied, 52% reported unwanted touching, and 31% reported sexual assault or rape.

Sexual violence has lifelong
impacts on victims

The effects of sexual violence are pervasive and can create lifelong difficulties for survivors. Sexual violence is frequently linked to depression, drug use, mental health disorders, and interpersonal challenges.

Across all demographics, sexual violence is likely to result in increased rates of:

  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Mental health conditions
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Physical injuries
  • Substance abuse
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Risk of suicide

The effects of sexual violence are pervasive and can create lifelong difficulties for survivors. Sexual violence is frequently linked to depression, drug use, mental health disorders, and interpersonal challenges.

Thirty-one percent of women who are raped develop PTSD.

Rape victims are three times more likely than others to experience major depressive episodes.

There were 14,152 reports of public school sexual assault . Sexual violence survivors show an increased likelihood of using illegal substances. Rape victims are 13.4% more likely to develop alcohol issues and 26 times more likely to develop a problem with serious drug abuse.

Survivors of sexual violence are also more likely to experience difficulties with employment, schooling, housing, relationships, and economic well-being.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, support is available.

Contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to talk to a trained professional for help.