Expert Commentary

Facts about sexual violence in the United States

2009 report by the University of Minnesota and the United States Department of Justice summarizing studies and surveys on the extent of sex crimes in America.

Because sex crimes tend to be under-reported, the full extent of the problem in the United States is not always apparent. The National Violence Against Women Survey found that, on average, 17.6% of women and 3% of men in the United States will be raped in their lifetimes.

A 2009 research brief produced by the University of Minnesota and the U.S. Department of Justice, “The Facts about Sexual Violence,” summarizes a variety of studies and surveys on the issue.

Key points in the brief include:

  • Among high school students, 11% of the females and 4% of the males reported having been forced to have sex.
  • The chances of rape are especially high for young women. Women between ages 16 and 24 are four times more likely to be raped as compared with the rate for all women.
  • For women who are raped, some 24.5% of incidents involve a spouse or ex-spouse, or current live-in or previous cohabitating partner.
  • During their lifetimes, 34% of Native American women report an attempted or completed rape, as do 18.8% of African-American women, 17.7% of white women, and 6.8% of Asian American women.

The report notes that a variety of negative longer-term consequences result from rape, including mental health problems, lost work time and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tags: crime, sex crimes, Native American, African-American, domestic violence

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