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Sexual Abuse and Assault Services

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Rape and Sexual Assault Statistics

Extracted from Criminal Victimization in the United States, 1994 Report
Summarized by Betty Caponera, Ph.D. Director, NMCSAAS

Data Source
Victim Characteristics
Victim-Offender Relationship
Offender Characteristics
Crime Characteristics
Reported to Police

I. Introduction

A. Data Source

The following statistics on rape/sexual assault are summarized from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization in the United States, 1994 report.

The statistics from the Criminal Victimization in the United States, 1994 report come from National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data. The NCVS surveys a representative sample of approximately 50,000 United States households every year with more than 100,000 individuals age 12 or older. The data from this survey is intended to capture both reported and unreported crimes to complement reported crimes to the police as documented in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report.

Each month the U.S. Bureau of the Census selects respondents for the NCVS using a "rotating panel" design. Households are randomly selected, and all age-eligible individuals in a selected household become part of the panel. Once in the sample, respondents are interviewed every 6 months for a total of seven interviews over a 3-year period to capture victimizations within the previous six-month period. The first and fifth interviews are face-to-face; the rest are by telephone. After the seventh interview the household leaves the panel and a new household is rotated into the sample.

B. Definitions

Definitions for terms used in the Criminal Victimization in the United States 1994 report and discussed herein, include the following:

Multiple offenders: two or more persons inflicting some direct harm to a victim. The victim-offender relationship is determined by the offender with the closest relationship to the victim.

Nonstranger: a classification of a crime victim's relationship to the offender. An offender who is either related to, well-known to, or casually acquainted with the victim is a nonstranger. For crimes with more than one offender, if any of the offenders are nonstrangers, then the group of offenders as a whole is classified as nonstranger.

Rape: forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal or oral penetration by the offender(s). This category also includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object such as a bottle. It includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and homosexual rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.

Sexual Assault: a wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. Sexual assault also includes verbal threats.

Stranger: a classification of the victim's relationship to the offender for crimes involving direct contact between the two. Incidents are classified as involving strangers if the victim identifies the offender as a stranger, did not see or recognize the offender, or knew the offender only by sight.

Victimization: a crime as it affects one individual person or household. For personal crimes, the number of victimizations is equal to the number of victims involved. The number of victimizations may be greater than the number of incidents because more than one person may be victimized during an incident.

Victimization Rate: a measure of the occurrence of victimizations among a specified population group. For personal crimes, this is based on the number of victimizations per 1000 persons age 12 or older.

C. Report Contents

Found within this summary, are rape/sexual assault statistics with regard to incidence; victim characteristics (demographics); victim-offender relationship; offender characteristics; crime characteristics (number of offenders, location and time of occurrence, weapon use, self-protection measures, medical care, and time lost from work); and reporting incidents and issues regarding rape/sexual assault.

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II. Rape/Sexual Assault Statistics

a. Incidence

In the 1994 report, there were 432,750 rapes/sexual assaults reported by the survey respondents. The rate of rape was 2.0 per every 1000 persons, and sexual assault was 1.0 for every 1000 persons. Of the rapes/sexual assaults reported, only 32% were reported to police. The breakdown of reported rapes/sexual assaults is as follows:

Attempted Rape
Sexual Assault
Number of Incidents
Number (%) Reported
61,000 (36%)
29,000 (20%)
47,000 (41%)

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b. Victim Characteristics

Divorced or separated, urban, poor women, ages 16-24 experienced the highest risk for rape/sexual assault.

While the greatest number of rapes/sexual assaults occurred among Whites, the rate of rapes/sexual assaults per 1000 persons was greater among Blacks and Hispanics:

No. of Incidents


Rate per 1000 Persons

*The number of rape/sexual assault incidents among Hispanics was 47,770 but a gender breakdown was not provided.

The rate of rape/sexual assault victimization was five times greater for divorced or separated individuals, and three times greater for never married individuals, than the rate of widowed or married individuals. This risk for divorced or separated, and never married individuals was even more significant than widowed or married individuals when only comparing the rates for females in each group:

Rate per 1000 Persons
Marital Status
Divorced or Separated
Never Married

Where the head of the household was female, their own children under the age of 18, and non-relatives were at greater risk of rape/sexual assault, than their own children over age 18, and other relatives:

Relationship of Victim to Female Head of Household
Own children under 18
Own children over 18
Other relatives
Rate of Rape/Sexual Assault per 1000 Persons

Conversely, where the head of the household was male, non-relatives and other relatives were at greater risk of rape/sexual assault than their own children at any age:

Relationship of Victim to Male Head of Household
Own children under 18
Own children over 18
Other relatives
Rate of Rape/Sexual Assault per 1000 Persons

The rate of rape/sexual assault per 1000 persons was significantly greater where the annual family income of victims was less than $25,000, compared to those with incomes greater than $25,000, with the greatest risk occurring in families whose annual income was less than $7,500. This same trend in family income and rate of rape/sexual assault was seen among Whites, while Blacks had similar rates of rape/sexual assault in the $15,000-24,999 and $7,500-14,999 income groups as they did in the less than $7,500 income group.

< $7,500
$ 7,500-14,999
Rate of Rape/Sexual Assault per 1000 Persons

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c. Victim-Offender Relationship

Sixty-seven percent of rape/sexual assault victims knew their offender. In 33% of victimizations, the offender was a stranger:

Victim-Offender Relationship
Casual Acquaintance
% of Rape/Sexual Assault Victimizations

Of the 45,890 rapes/sexual assaults committed by someone related to the victim, at least half were committed by the victim's spouse and greater than a quarter were committed by an ex-spouse:

Related Offender
Other Relatives
No. of Related Offender Incidents
% of Rape/Sexual Assault Victimizations

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d. Offender Characteristics

In single-offender rape/sexual assault victimizations, Whites and Blacks were victimized most often by members of their own race (Whites by Whites, 78.4%; Blacks by Blacks, 83.5%).

Of the 39,989 multiple-offender rape/sexual assault victimizations in 1994, 84.8% involved only male offenders, and 6.8% involved male and female offenders. Female-only offenders were involved in 8.4% of victimizations.

Almost half of all multiple-offender rape/sexual assault victimizations had no age-of-offender distinction (44.8%), another 24% were committed by 12-20 year olds, and 15.2% by 21-29 year olds. Only 5.9% of those committed were by offenders 30 years of age and older. The age of 10.2% of victimizations by multiple-offenders was not known.

Forty-eight percent of all rapes/sexual assaults in 1994 were committed by an offender perceived to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, 27.9% were perceived to be not on drugs or alcohol, and in 23.9% of the incidents the use of drugs or alcohol was not known or could not be ascertained.

Half of all multiple-offender rape/sexual assault victimizations (49.4%) were committed by Whites, 29.5% by Blacks, 15.5% by mixed races, and 5.7% by other races than White or Black. Rates were not provided to allow for comparisons among the races.

Of the multiple-offender rape/sexual assault victimizations, 76% were committed by strangers.

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e. Crime Characteristics

Number of Offenders

By far, most rapes/sexual assaults have one victim (98.6%). However, 9.4% of rape/sexual assault incidents have more than one offender:

Number of Offenders
Four or more
Number not known
% of Rape/Sexual Assault Incidents

Rapes/sexual assaults involving strangers were significantly more likely to have more than one offender (20%) than rapes/sexual assaults involving nonstrangers (4%).

Location of Rape/Sexual Assault Incidents

Overwhelmingly, rape/sexual assault victims were most likely to be raped/sexually assaulted at home (33.7%) or at or near a friend/relative/neighbor's home (21.3%), than any other location reported. However, in contrast to the location of rapes/sexual assaults committed most by nonstrangers (45.5% at or in victim's home) the location of rapes/sexual assaults committed most by strangers was on the street other than near the victim's home (19.5%). 12.6% of rape/sexual assault victimizations by strangers occurred at or in the victim's home, which was only slightly more than the occurrence of victimization in an apartment yard, park, field, or playground (10.8%), other commercial building (9%), at, in or near a friend/neighbor/relative's home (10.9%) or a parking lot or garage (8.9%).

Almost a third (31.9%) of rape/sexual assault incidents were committed during leisure activity away from home, and 22.2% during activities at home. The next greatest percent of incidents occurring during a single activity occurred while the victims were sleeping (15.3%). Incidents occurring during transit to and from work, school, other places, or while shopping or running errands comprised 15.2%. 3.9% of rapes/sexual assaults occurred while working or one duty, and 2.1% while attending school.

Ninety-four percent of rapes/sexual assaults occurred within 50 miles of the victim's home. The rate of rape/sexual assault in urban areas was greater (2.7) than suburban areas (1.8) and rural areas (1.7). (Rates given are per 1000 persons).

The South and West regions of the country had the highest rates of rape/sexual assault (2.3) followed by a rate of 1.9 in the Northeast and a low of 1.5 in the Midwest. (Rates given are per 1000 persons).

Time of Occurrence

Sixty-seven percent of rape incidents occurred at nighttime in the 12 hours between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., compared to 30.5% which occurred in the daytime, in the 12 hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Use of Weapons

In rapes/sexual assaults involving strangers, weapons were known to be used in 20.3% of the incidents. Of these, 8.8% used a firearm (hand gun) and 11.5% used a knife. In rapes/sexual assaults involving nonstrangers, weapons were known to be used in 15% of the incidents. Of these, 4.2% used a firearm (hand gun); 5.4% used a knife or sharp object, and 2% used some other weapon.

Of those rape/sexual assault victimizations using physical force, the offender was the first to use force in 87.1% of incidents. The victim was first to use force only 7.1% of the time.

Self-Protective Measures

Of those rape/sexual assault incidents where the victim took self-protective measures, self-protective measures were taken slightly more against offenders who were nonstrangers (84.6%) than offenders who were strangers (77.1%).

Females were slightly more likely to take self-protective measures than males (82.5% vs. 72.6% respectively). Blacks and Whites were almost equally likely to take self-protective measures (88% vs. 80.5% respectively). All persons under age fifty were equally as likely to take self-protective measures (an average of 82.7% of the victimizations).

When self-protective measures were employed, victims were almost equally likely to resist or capture the offender (20.4%) as to persuade or appease the offender (19.5%). Victims more often scared or warned the offender (16.1%) than ran away or hid (11.4%). Victims were almost as likely to scream from pain and fear (8.2%) as they were to attack the offender without a weapon (9.3%). In less than 1% (.4%) of incidents did the victim attack the offender with a weapon.

Not surprisingly, male victims when compared to female victims were more likely to attack the offender without a weapon (12.6% vs. 7.7% respectively), and resist or capture the offender (23.9% vs. 17.2% respectively). They were less likely to run away or hide (14.7% to 18.1% respectively), but equally likely to try to appease or persuade the offender (12.7% vs. 13.7% respectively).

Fifty-five percent of the number of rape/sexual assault victimizations in which self-protective measures were employed by the victim resulted in helping the situation. Self-protective measures hurt the situation in 10.5% of victimizations. In 17.2% of the incidents the result neither helped nor hurt the situation, and in 7.7% of the incidents the situation was both helped and hurt.

In rape/sexual assault victimizations where measures were taken by someone other than the victim, it helped the situation 27.7% of the time. 14.9% of the time it hurt the situation; 38.4% of the time it neither helped nor hurt the situation, and 2% of the time it both helped and hurt the situation.

In cases where self-protective measures by the victim were helpful, 42.5% avoided injury or greater injury, 37.6% escaped, and 11.1% of the time the offender was scared off.

In cases where self-protective measures by the victims were harmful, no data is available for rape/sexual assault. For assault in general, 69.6% of the time, it made the offender angrier, more aggressive, 9.7% of the time it led to injury or greater injury, and 15.6% of the time it made the situation worse in other ways.

For general assault, there were no significant differences in sex, age, race, income and victim-offender relationship in the percent of victimizations in which victims sustained physical injury. No data specific to rape/sexual assault were available.

Medical Care

In 1994, 17.6% of rape/sexual assault victims received medical care. Rape/sexual assault victims were most likely to receive medical care at an emergency room or hospital (46%), and second most likely to receive medical care at home or a neighbor/friend's home (38.8%). 12.4% received medical care at the scene, while 2% went to a doctor's office or health clinic.

Lost Time From Work

Thirteen percent of all victimizations resulting in loss of time from work were from rape/sexual assault victimizations. However, 23.7% of Black victims reported losing time from work as compared to 9.9% of White victims. Over half (53.1%) of rape/sexual assault victims who lost time from work, lost 1-5 days.

Time Lost From Work
Less than 1 day
6-10 days
11 days or more
Not available/unknown
Percent of Victims

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f. Rape/Sexual Assault Victimizations Reported to Police

Of the 432,750 rapes/sexual assault victimizations, 68.3% were not reported to police. The highest category of these victimizations not reported were attempted rape (80.4%).

Percent Reported to Police
Attempted Rape
Sexual Assault

Men were slightly more likely to report rape/sexual assault than women (38.9% vs. 31.2% respectively). However, women were significantly more likely to report rape/sexual assault involving a stranger than men (34.1% vs. 0% respectively), and men were significantly more likely to report rape/sexual assault involving nonstrangers than women (49.5% vs. 29.5% respectively).

Blacks were significantly more likely to report rape/sexual assault victimization than Whites (40.8% vs. 29.5% respectively). They were slightly more likely to report rape/sexual assault by strangers than Whites (37.7% Blacks vs. 30.9% Whites), and significantly more likely to report rape/sexual assault by nonstrangers than Whites (42.3% vs. 28.7% respectively). Non Hispanics* were more likely to report rape/sexual assault than Hispanics* (32.5% vs. 21.7% respectively), and rape/sexual assault involving strangers (33.7% Non Hispanics vs. 27.3% Hispanics). They were significantly more likely to report rape/sexual assault by nonstrangers (31.8% Non Hispanics vs. 17.7% Hispanics). [* Hispanic was defined as a person who described himself as Mexican-American, Chicano, Mexican, Mexicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American, South American, or from some other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. Non Hispanic was defined as persons who reported their culture or origin as something other than "Hispanic" as defined above, regardless of race.]

Under age 50, the age group 12-19 was most likely to report rape/sexual assault (35.7%), followed closely by the 20-34 age group (32.9%) and less likely were the age group 35-44 (26.8%). Figures for the over 50 age group were not available.

The most frequently cited reason for reporting rape/sexual assault was to stop or prevent this type of incident from happening again (19.5%), followed by to prevent further crimes by the offender against the victim (13.5%). 3.4% of rapes/sexual assaults reported were because the victim needed help due to injury.

Thirty-seven percent of rape/sexual assault victims would not disclose the reason they would not report the incident. The most frequently cited reason for not reporting rape/sexual assault was because the victim felt it was a private or personal matter (17.9%). This was followed closely by fear of reprisal (14.5%). 10.9% of victims said they did not report because of police inefficiency, ineffectiveness, bias, or the police would not want to be bothered. Interestingly, no one reported that they did not report the rape/sexual assault due to the fact that insurance would not cover it. An equal percent of victims (3%) said they reported the incident to other officials, or did not report it due to lack of proof.

The percent of not reporting due to fear of reprisal was significantly higher with rapes involving nonstrangers, than strangers (18.6% vs. 7.5% respectively).

Of the rapes/sexual assaults reported in 1994, police came to the victim in 76% of the incidents. They did not go to the victim in 16.6% of incidents, and in 4.9% of incidents the victim went to the police.

Of the 432.750 rapes in 1994, 79.3% reported receiving no assistance as a result of the crime, 10.4% reported that they received government assistance, and 7.9% reported receiving private assistance.

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