In 2010, victims age 12 or older experienced a total of 188,380 rapes or sexual assaults.2
In 2010, 91.9 percent of rape victims were female. Of these, 48 percent were assaulted by friends or acquaintances, 25 percent by strangers, and 17 percent by intimate partners.3
Approximately 80 percent of female rape victims were raped before age 25; more than 25 percent of male rape victims were raped by age 10.6
The term sexual violence encompasses a broad range of unwanted sexual activities, all of which are crimes that have a profound effect on victims. Sexual violence includes sexual assault, rape or attempted rape, child sexual molestation or abuse, incest, statutory rape, spousal or intimate partner rape, fondling, forced or coerced pornography, sex trafficking, and forced or coerced prostitution.
Not all sexual violence includes physical contact. Generally, rape includes penetration with any object, while sexual assault may or may not include penetration and may include emotional rather than physical violence, such as the threat of sexual assault. Many state laws refer to sexual violence as "rape" or "sexual assault." This brochure uses these terms interchangeably.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of age, racial or cultural background, gender identity/ expression, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Likewise, assailants can be anyone: strangers, acquaintances, friends, family members, intimate partners, and other people in positions of trust, such as clergy. Victims usually know their abuser: In 2010, only 25 percent of reported cases involved strangers.1
Sex offenders are motivated by the need to control, humiliate, and harm their victims. They may use force, threats, coercion, and manipulation. They may prey on persons who are not free to consent to sexual contact due to mental incapacity, disability, intoxication (voluntary or involuntary), or because the person is under age. Whatever the circumstances, no one asks or deserves to be sexually assaulted.
Understand that you are not to blame. No matter who you are, what you say or do, or where you go, you do not deserve to be sexually assaulted.
Rape violates a person’s sense of safety and trust. You may feel shocked or angry that it could happen to you. You may be anxious about your safety and always on your guard. You may feel guilty or ashamed, or that your family and friends blame you for the assault.
Victims often suffer a variety of physical reactions, from changes in eating and sleeping patterns to nightmares or flashbacks. These reactions can cause victims to turn inward, becoming socially withdrawn. It is also common to feel powerless, contributing to depression and a loss of self-worth.
Whatever your reactions or fears, it’s important to understand that they are normal. It’s also important to know that help is available. There are rape crisis centers or sexual assault centers with hotlines and staff trained to support victims and offer resources specific to your needs—whether or not you report the crime.
Local sexual assault programs have trained, experienced advocates who provide free and confidential services for survivors and those indirectly affected, including family members, intimate partners, and friends. Services may include—
You may be concerned about the financial burden of the crime, but help is available. Your state has a crime victim compensation program that can help with expenses related to the assault. State laws on eligibility for compensation vary. Your local rape crisis center or program can provide information about applying for compensation and inform you of all your rights as a victim of crime.
National Center for Victims of Crime
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
1-800-656-HOPE or 1-800-656-4673
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Directory of Crime Victim Services
Office for Victims of Crime
Office of Justice Programs
U.S. Department of Justice