Rape Culture & Statistics

Studies and statistics around rape, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual violence vary widely. In my writings and speeches, I quote the following statistics. Additionally, I’ve linked to the studies/statistics/reasoning as to why I use these statistics:

  • 1 in 3 (33%) women are survivors of sexual violence or intimate partner violence. (WHO)  This figure is actually low when encompassing all forms of sexual violence, including physical sexual harassment and, what many would consider, innocuous assault, like having your ass slapped, bra-strap snapped, or “copping a feel,” especially during adolescence. Those things do fall on the sexual assault spectrum, and they are traumatizing to varying degrees depending on the situation and individual. Bottom line, they are unwanted, nonconsensual sexual contact. The 1 in 3 I often quote, then, is quite low, as I have yet to meet a woman who hasn’t experience some kind of groping in her life. 1 in 6 women are victims of rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives. For the most current rape statistics, read these: RAINN Statistics & Rape Trauma Services Statistics, also read more on The Rape Spectrum
  • 1 in 6 (17%) men are victims of sexual violence. Similar to above. The figure most often seen when calculating the number of men sexually abused or assaulted in their lifetime. (Source in Canada) (Source in US and Canada)
  • 600 people are raped every day in the USA, one every two minutes. (RAINN)
  • 1 in 3 (30-35%) of men would rape if they knew they’d get away with it. (Source. Plus, second source 11 years later showing the same percentage: Kilpatrick)
  • 1 in 6 or 7 (14-16%) reported cases will ever see the inside of a courtroom. This was a figure given to me by my own sexual assault attorney back in 2012. I took his word for it, especially after all the research I did coupled with my own experience with the police, as well as experiences like this.
  • 1 in 16 (6.5%) men are rapists. 2002 Lisak study, although other studies show as high as nearly 15%, or 1 in 7 men.
  • Only 27% whose assault met the legal definition of rape consider themselves rape victims, so great is the minimization and normalization of sexual assault in our society. (Source)
  • Only 40% of rapes are reported to the police. (RAINN)
  • There’s a 50% chance a person will develop PTSD after rape. (Source)
  • Between 60% and 99% of rapes and sexual assault are perpetrated by men onto women, children, other men, and transgender people. (Source) Please stop shouting “women rape too” as a derailed when the discussion defaults to the male pronoun as perpetrator. Yes, they do, and they account for between 1% – 40% of the rapes perpetrated. Important to remember, and it’s also important to validate those survivors who were raped by a woman. For more information, please read my disclaimer page.
  • Between 65% and 85% of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. (Source)
  • 91% of victims of rape/sexual assault are female and 9% are male. (Source)
  • 97% of rapists will never spend even a single day in jail. (RAINN)
  • 98% of reported rapes are true, only 2% are false, which is lower than false reports in every other type of crime. In fact, the 2% is a little high. The actual statistic is 1.5%, and I’ve seen it stated as low as 0.7%, which in my experience is the most accurate. The FBI quotes 8% false, but read this article to see why I choose the lower percentage. Since cries of “false accusation!” are the greatest of The Great Derailers, please read a more comprehensive explanation on my Derailers: False Accusations page.

Probably the most comprehensive, sobering, and well-known studies are David Lisak’s findings, which is the basis for the excellent Yes Means Yes post “Meet the Predators,” and the recent United Nations study on the roots of sexual violence spanning six countries and two years. This latter study shows, worldwide, a whopping 25% of men (1 in 4) had raped someone in their lives. 1 in 10 (10%) had raped someone who wasn’t their partner.

It’s so easy to dismiss the UN’s findings by saying those happened somewhere other than the USA, but the Lisak study and the Harvard study, as well as the RAINN statistics, speak solely about US culture and US men. Because this mentality, unfortunately, is international:

Men rape because they have been taught that they have a right to claim women’s bodies. One of the fundamental concepts at the heart of “rape culture” is the idea that rape is inevitable, men can’t help themselves, and women must therefore work to protect themselves against it. Within the context of rape culture, the idea that men are entitled to sexual experiences is deeply entrenched. The UN researchers found that this attitude is pervasive among the rapists they surveyed. Among the men who acknowledged they had sexually assaulted someone else, more than 70 percent of them said they did it because of “sexual entitlement.” Forty percent said they were angry or wanted to punish the woman. About half of the men said they did not feel guilty.

Why is rape so prevalent throughout this culture and the world?

Rape typically goes unpunished in Southeast Asia. Just 23 percent of the men who said they had raped someone had actually been imprisoned for their crimes. That trend holds true outside of the Southeast Asian countries that were included in the study. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that, after factoring in the extremely high number of rape cases that go unreported to the police, about three percent of U.S. rapists end up serving jail time. This has been a particularly contentious issue on college campuses lately, where many rapists receive extremely light punishments, like being assigned essays and placed on social probation, instead of being expelled. (emphasis mine)

Southeast Asia has a better conviction rate for rapists than the Land of “Freedom.” Huh.

More reading: