The Truth About Sexual Assault

quick facts on sexual violence in the united states

what is sexual violence?

sexual violence is

both physical and psychological, it encompasses violent and non-consensual behavior including acts that involve physical contact and those that do not involve physical contact such as verbal harassment.

what is consent?

consent is

noun - agreement for something to occur.
verb - to give permission for something to happen.

what is trauma?

trauma is

a single or ongoing experience that subjectively threatens a person's life, bodily integrity, or sanity, and overwhelms a person's ability to cope.

what is harassment?

harassment is

aggressive pressure, coercion, continuously pursuing, hassling, or intimidation

what is assault?

assault is

an attack, unwanted contact, aggression, always a lack of consent.

how common is sexual violence

in a lifetime

Half of non cis people 1

One-third of women 2

One-sixth of men 2

indigenous people who are non-binary and afab
indigenous people who are not cis
trans folks with disabilities
non-binary people who were afab

*all forms of sexual violence1

women with developmental disabilities3
bisexual women4
multiracial women2
indigenous women2

*contact sexual violence (2), all forms (3, 4)

bisexual men2
gay men2
multiracial men2
men with developmental disabilities3

*contact sexual violence (2), all forms (3)

how common is sexual harassment

in a lifetime

1 out of 3 women 2

1 out of 8 men 2

how common is rape or attempted rape

in a lifetime

1 out of 5 women 2

1 out of 71 men 2

how many people are sexually assaulted

more than once

50% of non cis victims 1

40% of female victims 2

20% of male victims 2

People who have been sexually assaulted once are at a greater risk of being sexually assaulted multiple times.

almost half of people with developmental disabilities assaulted once have been assaulted more than 10 times 5
over a third of women who report being raped as children are also victims of rape as adults 2
men are most often sexually assaulted by other men 2
women most often experience sexual violence from men 2

how common is sexual abuse

in childhood (csa)

1 in 8 of kids not seen as cis 1
targeted because of perceived gender identity

1 in 4 girls under 18 7

1 in 6 boys under 18 7

most perpetrators of child sexual abuse are men
and most perpetrators are adults
the majority of csa survivors know their abuser

People who have committed an act of sexual assault once usually have committed multiple assaults.

a majority of men who self-reported raping or attempting to rape admitted to committing multiple rapes 6
    1. James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality. Accessed 9 Oct 2018:
    2. Smith, S.G., Chen, J., Basile, K.C., Gilbert, L.K., Merrick, M.T., Patel, N., Walling, M., & Jain, A. (2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010-2012 State Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 9 Oct 2018:
    3. Johnson, I., Sigler, R. (2000). Forced Sexual Intercourse Among Intimates. Journal of Family Violence, Vol 15:1, 95-108. doi: 10.1023/A:1007505621643

    4. United Nations Human Rights Council, Report of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (United Nations HRC, Session 38, 2018),

    5. Valenti-Heim, D., Schwartz, L. 1995. The Sexual Abuse Interview for Those with Developmental Disabilities.

    6. Lisak, D., Gardinier, L., Nicksa, S. C., & Cote, A. M. (2010). False allegations of sexual assault: An analysis of ten years of reported cases. Violence Against Women, 16, 1318-1334. doi: 10.1177/1077801210387747

    7. Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I. A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect 14, 19-28. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(90)90077-7

Emergency Contacts

In an emergency call 911
Find more resources here

1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

200 languages (USA based)
TTY 1-800-787-3224
Online chat

1-866-879-6636 (USWOMEN)

International toll-free

In an emergency call 911
Find more resources here

1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Connect with a local crisis center (USA based)
TTY 1-800-799-4889
Online chat


Virtual crisis center


Listings of suicide hotlines worldwide
Wiki listing

In an emergency call 911
Find more resources here


Help with dating abuse for teens (USA based)
Online chat
Text “LOVEIS” to 22522

1-800-422-4453 (4-A-Child)

Child abuse hotline (USA based)


LGBTQ youth crisis intervention and suicide prevention
Online chat
Text “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200

In an emergency call 911
Find more resources here

Crisis Text Line

24/7 support
Text: “HOME” to 741741


Crisis call center (USA based)
Text: “ANSWER” to 839863

Originally published October 28, 2018
Last updated December 14, 2019
By Kristance Harlow

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