Rape statistics

Rape isn’t a women’s issue. It is a human issue. These stats, which I’m borrowing from Ifritah, are intended to shed some simple, factual light on the topic without presenting any particular point of view. It should be noted that stats are imperfect, just like the market research I’m always criticizing in the film/tv industry, so feel free to bounce them off your common sense and life experience.

* Stranger rape and sexual assault is only one of several possible types of sexual violence. Here’s the reported percentages according to National Health and Social Life Survey:

– Someone with whom the respondent was in love: 46%
– Someone that the respondent knew well: 22%
– Acquaintance: 19%
– Spouse: 9%
– Stranger: 4%

(Rathus, Nevid and Fichner-Rathus, 565)

* An American woman has a 25 to 26 percent chance of being raped in her lifetime (1 in 4). (Greenberg, Bruess and Haffner, 573; Horowitz, 413; Lips, 233).

(Note: I apologize for not knowing the statistic for more than just the US, but well, I AM in the US, so you can see where my main focus was at the time.)

* The FBI finds that only one in four rapes are published in the Uniform Crime Reports. The Uniform Crime Reports do not include rapes that end in death, since those are reported as homicides. (Anderson, 276)

* Most often, a rapist is under the age of 30. (Henslin, 252)

* Little research has been done on male rape, so statistics are fuzzy. But here is what is known:

– 1 in 10 rape victims are men. (Rathus, Nevid and Fichner-Rathus, 568)
– In a survey answered by hundreds of rape and sexual assault support agencies, they estimated that 93.7 percent of male rape perpetrators are male and 6.3 percent were female. (Greenberg, Bruess and Haffner, 575)
– Many people do not believe that male rape by a female exists. However, penile erection can be achieved under emotional duress such as anger, fear, and pain even if the male does not wish it. (Greenberg, Bruess and Haffner, 576; Lips, 234)

* Lesbians report “physically or mentally coercive sex” more often than do gay men. One study found that thirty-one percent of lesbians reported forced sexual encounters versus twelve percent of gay men. (Scholars have presumed that lesbians and gay men disagree on what is considered “aggressive.” Often, lesbian reports contain statements of how they were emotionally abused as well as physically abused. Moreover, lesbians are often times more “sensitized” to “sexual coercion” and can more easily identify it, while gay men more often consider “coercion as fair play.”) (Schwartz and Rutter, 67)

* Women of the lowest status are the most vulnerable to rape. (Women of color, youth, lower class, divorced, separated, and never married women are the most likely targets of rape.) (Lips, 277)

– Black women’s sexual violence rate is estimated to be around forty percent by the time they reach age 18. (Norment, 152)
– Rape is considered a “crime of youth,” where fifty to sixty-three percent of reported rapes were of women under age 18, while sixteen to twenty-nine percent were under age 12. (Greenberg, Bruess and Haffner, 572; Lips, 233)
– Seventy-four percent of females under age 14 who have had “sexual relations” are survivors of rape. (Greenberg, Bruess and Haffner, 572)
– Females ages 16-24 have the highest likelihood of rape – two to three times higher. (Norment, 152; Rathus, Nevid and Fichner-Rathus, 565)
– A woman’s chance of being raped increases by three times if she has an income of $15,000 or under. (Norment, 152)

* Quotes finding patriarchal societies being the main reason for rape and sexual assault:

– “Rape-free societies were characterized by sexual equality in which both genders shared power and were deemed to make important contributions, albeit in different ways, to the welfare of the society” (Rathus, Nevid, and Fichner-Rathus, 573).
– “The more egalitarian and integrated the society, the less rape” (Schwartz and Rutter, 69).

Anderson, Margaret L. Thinking About Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and
Gender. Fifth Ed. Needham Heights, MA. Pearson Education Company, 2000.

Greenberg, Jerrold S., Clint E. Bruess, and Debra W. Haffner. Exploring the Dimensions
of Human Sexuality. Sudbury, MA. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2000.

Henslin, James M. Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Third Ed.
Needham Heights, MA. Allyn & Bacon, 2000.

Lips, Hilary M. Sex & Gender: An Introduction. Fourth Ed. Mountain View, CA.
Mayfield Publishing Company, 2001.

Norment, Lynn. “Rape and Recovery: Survivors Speak Out.” Ebony. 57 (2002): 152-157,

Rathus, Spencer A., Jeffrey S. Nevid, and Lois Fichner-Rathus. Human Sexuality in a
World of Diversity. Third Ed. Needham Heights, MA. Viacom Company, 1997.

Schwartz, Pepper and Virginia Rutter. The Gender of Sexuality: The Gender Lens.
Thousand Oaks, CA. Pine Forge Press, 1998.

Some stats on marital rape can be found here, though not enough research has been done into this area:

1 in 7 women will be sexually assaulted by her husband…Of all sexual assaults, marital rape is the most underreported. The reasons listed above are compounded by personal, cultural, and societal beliefs that may also prevent a woman from reporting the assault.