Facts About Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault is sexual contact made without someone’s consent.  It can be terrifying, humiliating and confusing.  Childhood sexual abuse, date/acquaintance rape, stranger assault, same gender assault, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation (including by professionals), and human trafficking are some examples of sexual violations. Any behavior that a person feels is inappropriate, abusive, or traumatic can be harmful to an individual.

Some examples of sexual assault can include:

  • Being bathed in a way that feels intrusive,
  • Being ridiculed or teased about your body
  • Being told all you are good for is sex
  • Being involved in child prostitution or pornography
  • Being shown sexually explicit movies
  • Being made to pose for seductive or sexual photographs
  • Being subjected to unnecessary or intrusive medical treatments
  • Being kissed in a lingering or intimate way by an authority figure, adult, or older youth
  • Having your breast, abdomen, genital area, inner thigh, or butt fondled, or being asked or forced to do this by an authority figure, adult, or older youth
  • Being involved in oral genital contact
  • Experiencing finger or object penetration
  • Experiencing penetration of the rectum, and/or vaginal area
  • Being exposed to adult talk about specific sexual acts
  • Being exposed to chronic nudity, or nudity at inappropriate times
  • Being forced or exposed to hearing or watching adults or teens having sex
  • Being exposed to sexual name-calling
  • Living in constant fear of sexual abuse occurring in your life
  • Lack of privacy in bathing or changing rooms
  • Being watched

Anyone who experiences sexual violence has the right to ask for and receive supportive services.  Sexual assault is not an act of passion or lust.  It is only sexual in its method. Sexual assault is an act of power, control and violence.  These elements are obvious when a weapon, physical force or threats are used.  They are also present through the use of coercion or manipulation such as emotional blackmail, position of authority, age, physical size, gender or status.

The vast majority of sexual assaults, 80 to 90%, are committed by someone the victim knows.  Sexual assaults are usually planned by the offender.


(from RAINN/Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network  www.rainn.org, most sexual assault statistics are based on what has been reported to law enforcement, many statistics are thought to be low because only 30% of sexual assaults are ever reported.)

The Silence

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are over 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America today-that’s approximately 20% of our population.  As many as 90% of those survivors never report their abuse to law enforcement, and more than 30% will never report their abuse to anyone (National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children).


  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).
  • 9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.

Lifetime rate of rape/attempted rape for women by race

  • All women: 17.6%
  • White women:  17.7%
  • Black women:  18.8%
  • Asian Pacific Islander women:  6.8%
  • American Indian/Alaskan women:  34.1%


  • About 3% of American men – or 1 in 33 – have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
  • In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims were male.
  • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.


  • 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
  • 12-34 are the highest risk years.
  • Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
  • 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
  • 3% of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
  • In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.  Of these, 75% were girls.
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.
  • 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
  • 34.2% of attackers were family members.
  • 58.7% were acquaintances.
  • Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.

People with Disabilities

  • 80% of women and 30% of men with intellectual disabilities have been sexually assaulted. 50% of those women have been assaulted more than ten times (Sobsey & Doe, 1991; Sorenson, 2000)
  • 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime (Stimpson & Best, 1991). Only 3% of sexual abuse cases involving people with developmental disabilities are ever reported (Valenti-Hein and Schwartz, 1995).
  • 3 times more likely to experience violent victimization as adolescents and adults
  • 3 times more likely to experience rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault, and robbery
  • 3 times more likely to be sexually abused as children
  • 1.6 times more likely to experience abuse or neglect as children
  • 1.5 times more likely to experience repeated abuse or neglect as children
  • Source: (http://www.endabusepwd.org/problem/alarming-rates/)

Find out more information about ending abuse towards people with disabilities here.


  • Effects of Rape
  • Victims of sexual assault are
  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
  • 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
  • What Happens To Rapists When They Are Caught And Reported?
    • 60% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to police, according to a statistical average of the past 5 years.  Those rapists, of course, never spend a day in prison.  Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 6% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.
    • If a rape is reported, there is a 50.8% chance of an arrest.
    • If an arrest is made, there is an 80% chance of prosecution.
    • If there is a prosecution, there is a 58% chance of conviction.
    • If there is a felony conviction, there is a 69% chance the convict will spend time in jail.
    • So even in the 39% of attacks that are reported to police, there is only a 16.3% chance the rapist will end up in prison.
    • Factoring in unreported rapes, about 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.

    15 of 16 Walk Free

    Although, these statistics may seem disheartening, there are many cases that are reported and successfully prosecuted.  The more victims who come forward to report, the more likely that offenders will be held accountable.  Please call Central MN Sexual Assault Center if you would like more information on reporting.  In MN, the statute of limitations for reporting a crime is 9 years, if you are an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and you have never reported the crime, the statute may not start until you make the decision to come forward about the abuse.  We can help you navigate the legal system by providing advocacy services with law enforcement and the court system.