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INTRODUCTION: Sexual Victimization

Contrary to popular belief, sex-based crimes are among the most frequently committed offenses (we know this from the National Crime Victimization Surveys over time). However, because victims are often unable or unwilling to report such a crime (or even old enough to realize that a crime was committed against them), it remains one of the most UNDER-reported person to person crimes.

While new official statistical reports emerge each year, the numbers and percentages since 2001 haven't changed much. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who compiles the annual Uniform Crime Report, and the statistical reports from the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics:

  • The statistical victim of sexual assault is white, female, and under 18 years of age.
  • The typical offender is white, male, and over 18 years of age.
  • 1.8 rapes or sexual assaults are REPORTED by women for each 1,000 over age 12. (That's about 248,000 per year.)
  • .3 rapes or sexual assaults are REPORTED by men for each 1,000 over age 12. (That's about 32,000 per year.)
  • Women reported that offenses against them were committed by:

    • Strangers: 28%
    • Intimates/Partners: 10%
    • Relatives: 2%
    • Friends/acquaintences: 57%
    • Unknown: 3%

  • Men reported that offenses against them were committed by:

    • Strangers: 48%
    • Friends/acquaintences: 52%

The National Victim Center's 1992 report digs deeper, noting that 75% of male students and 55% of female students involved in acquaintance rape had been drinking or using drugs.

Sexual victimization in all of its forms has a devastating impact on the mental health of victims. 31% of all victims develop Rape-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) sometime in their lifetimes. Based on U.S. Census reports on the number of women in the United States, 1.3 million women currently have RR-PTSD, 3.8 million women have previously had RR-PTSD and roughly 211,000 women will develop RR-PTSD each year.

When compared with nonvictims, rape victims have been found to be 8.7 times more likely to attempt suicide.

As staggering and horrific as these numbers sound, they represent barely a scratch on the surface of the ACTUAL number of those persons, both male and female, victimized each year. When relying on redesigned interviews with people age 12 and over in a nation-wide study (and NOT just on police reports), the National Crime Victimization Survey found that some 64% of rape survivors did not report the crime to the police.

Hours of Torture, Years of Silence : My Soul Was the Scene of the Crime 
by Teresa Lauer
Hours of Torture, Years of Silence : My Soul Was the Scene of the Crime
In this powerfully intimate portrait of rape and therapy, Hours of Torture, Years of Silence offers hope for anyone who has survived this invasive act. In it, Teresa relates an evocative story of fourteen hours in an abandoned house and her struggle to survive. It's a story of a desecrated soul and of self-imposed isolation. It's a story of how a young girl survived a brutal rape, and how a woman came to understand and accept the unacceptable. But mostly, it is a story of hope and humanity, and finding a future when there was none.

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Last Updated: March 22, 2011