Around 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men have reported experiencing rape at some point in their lives, while about 1 in 20 men and women experienced other types of sexual violence. Among female rape victims, 51.1% of perpetrators were reported to be intimate partners, 12.5% were family members, 40.8% were reported to be acquaintances, and 13.8% were strangers. Among male victims, 52.4% of perpetrators were reported to be acquaintances and 15.1% were strangers.
While these statistics are staggering enough, it is important to note that these only scratch the surface: most sexual assaults and rapes go unreported because victims are afraid to tell family, friends, and the authorities because they are experiencing feelings of shame or are afraid no one will believe or help them, or they are threatened by the perpetrator.
Types of sexual assault
- Rape is commonly defined as forced sexual intercourse including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by a body part or an object. However, the definition of rape can vary where you live. For more information on how your state legally defines rape and other types of sexual violence, please refer to the State Law Database, courtesy of RAINN.
- Acquaintance rape is perpetrated by someone familiar with the victim. They can be a friend, a date, or an acquaintance.
- Stranger rape occurs when the victim does not know the perpetrator. Stranger rape can be subdivided into three categories:
- Blitz sexual assault occurs when the perpetrator brutally and quickly assaults the victim with no prior contact. This type of assault usually occurs at night in public spaces.
- Contact sexual assault occurs when the perpetrator attempts to gain the victim's' trust before the assault. The perpetrator uses methods such as flirting, luring the victim to their car, or coercing the victim into a situation of sexual assault.
- Home invasion sexual assault occurs when an individual breaks into the victim’s home to commit the assault
- Partner rape occurs within a relationship or marriage. This type of rape is often related with domestic violence: according to statistics, the majority of women who experienced partner rape had also been physically assaulted by their partner or spouse.
- Incest occurs when there is sexual contact between family members. Usually, this occurs when an older family member sexually abuses a child or adolescent.
- Drug facilitated assault occurs when drugs and/or alcohol are used to impair the victim's judgement, memory, and ability to consent.
- Sexual exploitation is commonly perpetrated by those in positions of power, such as lawyers, doctors, police officers, therapist, religious leaders, teachers, etc. The perpetrator uses their position of power to take advantage of the victim who is seeking or receiving a service.
- Hate crimes occur when sexual assault is used to victimize the individual based on racial, religious, gender, or sexual orientation's grounds. This is most commonly experienced in two groups:
-Sexual assault is widely considered to be an act of misogyny or hatred towards women.
-Sexual assault is committed as a hate crime in the LGBT community as well, especially to trans* individuals.
- Male sexual assault occurs when the victim is male. This type of sexual assault is particularly unique due to social challenges such as male stereotypes and masculinity and often goes unnoticed.
Who is at risk?
It is important to note that these risk factors are not associated with victims. These risk factors are solely related to the perpetration of sexual assault. In addition, the presence of these do not necessarily mean that sexual violence will occur, but rather that the possibility is greater. Risks include but are not limited to:
- Accepting false ideas about rape
- Exposure to social norms that sexual violence is acceptable
- Witnessing and/or experiencing violence as a child
- Having friends that think it’s okay to do sexual things with another individual without consent
Emotional effects of sexual assault include:
- Loss of trust
- Sense of vulnerability
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Self harm
- Feelings of guilt and shame
- Depression and risk of suicide
- Difficulty with intimacy
Physical effects of sexual assault include:
- Vaginal or anal bleeding as well as tearing.
- Difficulty walking
- Internal bleeding is not easily identifiable unless the victim sees a doctor.
- Pregnancy occurs in approximately 5% of cases. If you or someone you know is pregnant as a result of a rape, Planned Parenthood provides numerous resources to help. http://plannedparenthood.org/
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be contracted through vaginal, anal, and oral contact. It is important to note that some STD symptoms won't show right away, but can be extremely dangerous if left untreated. To avoid this, seek testing as soon as possible. Most STDs are curable by antibiotics. For additional information on STDs, click here.
- End victim blaming and reassure victims that what they are going through is not their fault in any way.
- Help parents identify and address violent attitude and behaviors in their children and model healthy relationships.
- Educate teenage students in healthy sexuality and dating relationships.
- Engage people as positive bystanders to speak up against sexism and violent behaviors, as well as to intervene when they see someone who is at risk.
- Teach the importance of consent and understanding it.
- Create and enforce policies that address sexual harassment and create safer spaces.
- Pandora's Project offers support to male, female, and LGBT survivors.
- 1 in 6 offers support for male survivors.
- Soul Speakout is a survivor network that where survivors can also submit testimonials, stories, poetry, and other artistic works.
- Violence Unsilenced offers resources for child abuse, military sexual assault, human trafficking, teen dating/violence/abuse, domestic violence and also offers an archive of survivors’ stories.
- RAINN and RAINN (ES) offers a phone and online hotline of support for survivors, offered in english and in spanish.