RCASA Friday Facts: Campus Sexual Assault Facts and Figures

In Friday Facts, Sexual Assault Awareness on August 10, 2012 at 5:00 am

Facts and Figures

  • 95% of attacks are unreported, making sexual assault the “silent epidemic.” Sexual assault remains the most drastically underreported crime (*see the paragraph below the statistics for more on why). (1)
  • 3% of college women nationally have experienced rape or attempted rape during the academic year. This means, for example, that a campus with 6,000 coeds will have an average of one rape per day during the school year. (2)
  • 13% of women are stalked during the academic year, and each stalking episode lasts an average of 60 days. (2)
  • 90% of women know the person who sexually assaulted or raped them. (2)
  • 75% of the time, the offender, the victim, or both have been drinking. (3)
  • 42% of college women who are raped tell no one about the assault. (4)
  • 5% of rape incidents are reported to the police. (2) 10 times more rapes are reported to crisis lines than are reported to the police. (5)
  • 42% of raped women expect to be raped again. (4)

* While there are many reasons why people do not report, the most often cited reason in a 2009 investigation by the Center for Public Integrity was institutional barriers on campus. Two examples of these institutional barriers are administrators who respond to students with disbelief or other inappropriate behavior and campus judiciary processes that are difficult to understand and follow. Many students who were discouraged because of these barriers transferred or withdrew from their schools, while their alleged attackers were almost uniformly unpunished.(XX)

Debunking Myths
Both college women and men harbor misconceptions about sexual assault. Getting the facts is essential to combating sexual assault on campus.

  • 71% of rapes are planned in advance. (6)
  • 80% of women who are raped try to physically resist. (6)
  • 48.8% of the women did not consider what happened to them to be rape even though researchers considered the incidents to be rape. (2)
  • 43% of college-aged men conceded to using coercive behavior to have sex (including ignoring a woman’s protest, using physical aggression, and forcing intercourse) but did not admit that it was rape. (7)

The Impact on Victims
Physical and emotional

  • 40% of rape survivors develop sexually transmitted diseases as a result of sexual assault. (8)
  • 80% of rape victims suffer chronic physical or psychological problems over time. (9)
  • 13 times as many rape survivors are more likely to attempt suicide than are people who are not victims of crime. Rape survivors are six times more likely to attempt suicide than are victims of other crimes. (10)
  • 25–50% of sexual assault victims seek mental health treatment as a result of the assault. (11)

Academics and achievement
In addition to physical and emotional damage, college students who have been victims of sexual assault suffer from a host of problems that impede their academic achievement.

  • In nearly every case, victims cannot perform at the same academic levels that they did prior to the attack.
  • Sexual assault sometimes causes students to be unable to carry a normal class load, and they miss classes more frequently. (This is often a result of social withdrawal or a way to avoid seeing the perpetrator.)
  • Student victims regularly withdraw from courses altogether.
  • In more traumatic incidents, victims leave the school until they recover, sometimes transferring to another college.

(12) – four bullets above

(1) Fisher, Bonnie S., Francis T. Cullen, and Michael G. Turner. (2000). The sexual victimization of college women. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. Available at www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf.

(2) Fisher, Bonnie S., Francis T. Cullen, and Michael G. Turner. (2000). The sexual victimization of college women. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. Available at www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf.

(3) Abbey, A., L. Thomson Ross, D. McDuggie, & P. McAuslan. (1996). Alcohol and dating risk factors for sexual assault among college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20, 147-169.

(4) Warshaw, Robin. (1994). I never called it rape. New York: Harper Perennial.

(5) U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. National crime victimization survey.
Available at http://www.fact-index.com/n/na/national_crime_victimization_survey.html.

(6) DC Rape Crisis Center. Turning anger into change. Available at www.dcrcc.org.

(7) American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Adolescence. (1994). Sexual assault and the adolescent. Pediatrics, 94(5), 761-765.

(8) Holmes, Melissa, Heidi A. Resnick, Dean G. Kirkpatrick, & Connie L. Best. (1996). Rape-related pregnancy: Estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 175(2), 320-325.

(9) American Medical Association. (1995). Strategies for the treatment and prevention of sexual assault.
Available at www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/386/sexualassault.pdf.

(10) National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center. (1992). Rape in America: A report to the nation. Charleston, SC: University of South Carolina.

(11) Miller, Ted, Mark A. Cohen, & Brian Wierama. Victim costs and consequences: A new look. 1996. Washington, DC: U.S. Department. of Justice, National Institute of Justice. Available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/155282.htm.

(12) Kirkland, Connie J. (1994). Academic impact of sexual assault. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University. Available at http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/sexual/.

(XX) Center for Public Integrity, “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice,” (2009). Available at http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/campus_assault/


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