Defining Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is any unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature that occurs without consent from both individuals or under threat or coercion. Whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger, sexual assault can occur either forcibly and/or against a person’s will, or when a person is incapable of giving consent.
By law, sexual assault includes but is not limited to rape, forcible sodomy, forcible oral copulation, sexual assault with an object, sexual battery, forcible fondling (e.g., unwanted touching or kissing for purposes of sexual gratification), or threat of sexual assault.
A person is legally incapable of giving consent if under 18 years of age, intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol, developmentally disabled, or mentally or physically unable to do so.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone of any age, race, gender, and socioeconomic background — at any time or any place.
- Sex offenders can be of any age, race, class, or occupation.
- Sexual assault occurs as frequently during the day as it does at night.
- Research shows that a woman’s chances of being sexually assaulted during her lifetime may be as high as 1 in 3.
- It is estimated that 80-85% of rapists are known to the adult they attack. “Acquaintance rape” by a friend, new acquaintance, or coworker is frequent, particularly among young, single women.
- Statistics show that 50% of sexual assaults occur in or around a woman’s home, 50% during the day.
- Every minute in the United States, 1.3 adult women are raped.
- Up to 60% of sexual assault offenders reported being under the influence of alcohol.
- 40% of victims of sexual assault had been drinking alcohol.
The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) reports in a study surveying over 6,000 students at 32 colleges and universities in the U.S. indicates that:
- 1 in 4 women had been victims of rape or attempted rape.
- 84% of those raped knew their attacker, and 57% of the rapes happened on dates.
- Only 27% of the women whose sexual assault met the legal definition of rape thought of themselves as rape victims.
- 42% of the rape victims told no one about the assault, and only 5% reported it to the police
- About 75% of the men and at least 55% of the women involved in acquaintance rapes had been drinking or taking drugs just before the attack.
- According to the National Institute of Justice, rape is the costliest crime in the U.S., exacting $86,500 in tangible and intangible costs per victim.
- Results of a 1997 study of sexual coercion within gay and lesbian relationships indicated that 52% of the total sample reported having experienced at least one incident of sexual coercion. 55% of the gay men and 50% of the lesbians in this study reported unwanted penetration. 33% of the gay men and 32% of the lesbians in this study reported unwanted fondling.
- In 1992, the National Victim Center reported that 9 out of 10 rapes go unreported.