Rape and Sexual Assault in the U.S.
There is an epidemic of sexual assault in our country. The CDC estimates that more than 1 million women are raped in the U.S. each year. Though one in five women will be raped in her lifetime, only 3% of perpetrators will ever serve time in prison. NOW-NYC’s Take Rape Seriously campaign works in partnership with survivors to rise up against a culture of rape and push for real reforms to improve the criminal justice system’s response to rape.
- January 2012 marked the long awaited FBI’s updated definition of rape. This new definition includes male victims and reflects the reality of rape.
- According to a 2012 CDC study, 1.3 million American women experienced a rape or attempted rape in 2010, but only 84,767 were reported.
- Lifetime rate of rape /attempted rape for women by race:
- All women: 17.6%
- American Indian/Alaskan women: 34.1%
- Asian/Pacific Islander women: 6.8%
- Black women: 18.8%
- Mixed race women: 24.4%
- White women: 17.7%
- Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
- Two-thirds of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows
- 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
- One in five girls in grades 9-12 will experience physical or emotional violence from a dating partner.
- Survivors of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from PTSD, and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
- Approximately 60% of rapes are never reported to the police.
- Even in the attacks that are reported to the police, there is only a 16.3% chance that the rapist goes to prison. Factoring in unreported rapes, only 3% of rapists will spend a single day in jail.
- The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) found that 18.8% of African American women reported rape in their lifetime.
- Nearly 60% of young black women surveyed by the New York City-based organization Black Women’s Blueprint experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.
- Approximately 1 in 8 lesbian women (13%), nearly half of bisexual women (46%), and 1 in 6 heterosexual women (17%) have been raped in their lifetime. This translates to an estimated 214,000 lesbian women, 1.5 million bisexual women, and 19 million heterosexual women.
- 1 in 33 men are survivors of sexual assault
- 93% of male survivors reported being raped by men
- Only 15 percent of men report sexual assault to the police.
Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault
Drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) occurs when alcohol or drugs are used to compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sex. This occurs either when the perpetrator takes advantage of a victim’s voluntary use of drugs or alcohol or when the perpetrator intentionally forces a victim to consume drugs without their knowledge.
Click here to learn about how NOW-NYC is fighting DFSA
- 75% of all acquaintance rapes involve alcohol and/or drugs.
- Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in drug-facilitated sexual assault.
- Prescription drugs like sleep aids, anxiety medication, muscle relaxers, and tranquilizers may also be used by perpetrators.
- “Street drugs”, like GHB, rohypnol, ecstasy, and ketamine can be added to drinks without changing the color, flavor, or odor of the beverage.
- Many of the drugs typically used are rapidly absorbed and metabolized by the body, often rendering them undetectable in routine urine and blood drug screenings.
- It is crucial that survivors have a SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) collect urine and blood samples as soon as possible for testing, so that they have invaluable evidence in a court of law if they choose to report the crime to the police. It is recommended that a urine sample be collected from the victim if fewer than 120 hours have elapsed, and a blood sample if fewer than 24 hours have elapsed, since the incident.
- Cases of drug facilitated sexual assault frequently involve alcohol, marijuana or cocaine, and are less likely to involve drugs, such GHB and rohypnol, though they are perceived to be mainly what is used in these assaults.
Rape On Campus
The epidemic of rape on college campuses has been somewhat publicized in the media, yet institutions of higher learning across the country routinely fail to address the problem. In fact, in New York state, 30 schools have Title IX complaints filed against them. This is a nationwide policy issue, and college students across the country are suffering daily.
Click here for general campus resources and information.
- One in four college women surveyed are victims of rape or attempted rape.
- Colleges with 6,000+ students average one rape per day during the school year.
- 42% of college women who are raped tell no one about their assault.
- 42% of raped women said they expect to be raped again.
- 84% of college men who committed rape said that what they did was definitely not rape.
- 5% of college women who are raped report the rape to the police.
Rape and sexual assault also happens to younger girls at school, and there is evidence that the NYC public school system sweeps these acts of violence under the rug as well, especially when the survivors are young girls of color.
Rape in the Military
Sexual assault is a common occurrence in the military. Each year, thousands of servicewomen are sexually assaulted by fellow officers.
- An estimated 26,000 people in the armed forces were sexually assaulted in 2012, up from 19,000 in 2010.
- A female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.
- A servicewoman was nearly 180 times more likely to have become a victim of military sexual assault in the past year than to have died while deployed during the last 11 years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- A mere 14 percent of military sexual assaults are ever reported.
- Of 3,192 sexual-assault reports in 2011 only 191 members of the military were convicted at courts martial.
- In 2011, less than 8% of reported cases went to trial.
- 1 in 3 convicted military sex offenders remain in the military.
Rape in Prison
In 2003, the U.S. pledged to end rape in prisons. The Bureau of Justice estimates that 200,000 people are sexually abused behind bars in a single year. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) calls for a zero-tolerance policy for rape in all prisons, jails and correctional facilities.
- Nearly one in 10 prisoners reports being raped or sexually abused behind bars.
- On average, each prisoner rape survivor is assaulted three to five times a year.
- About half of the prisoners reporting abuse were victimized by staff – the very people whose job it is to keep them safe.
- Prisoner rape victims are highly vulnerable to contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Rape at Work
In addition to the already prevalent sexual harassment, rape also happens in the workplace. Immigrant women are especially at risk for sexual violence. Also, for those who are undocumented, the fear of having their status revealed contributes to a lack of agency and fear of reporting the crime or reaching out for help.
- “Rape on the Night Shift” is “an investigation into how sexual violence against janitors often goes unreported and unpunished” divided into a three-part series.
- The United States Department of Justice estimates that eight percent of rapes occur while the victim is working.
- According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Justice, about 50 workers a day are sexually assaulted or raped on the job.
- Rape and sexual assault were reported to police at the lowest percentage (24%) when compared to other violence crimes in the workplace.
- In 2000, 36% of rape/sexual assault victims lost more than 10 days of work after their victimization.
- Some 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults occur annually in the workplace. In 80 percent of these incidents, the victim was female.
- Nurses experience workplace crime at a rate 72 percent higher than medical technicians and at more than twice the rate of other medical fieldworkers.
- Professional (social worker/psychiatrist) and custodial care providers in the mental health care field were victimized while working or on duty at rates more than three times those in the medical field.
- Junior high school teachers have a rate of victimization in the workplace similar to convenience store clerks—54.2 versus 53.9 per 1,000 workers.
Women’s Justice NOW
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