15 Distressing Stats About Sexual Assault

by Seth Millstein

When former Stanford University student Brock Turner was sentenced to just six months in prison for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, there was justifiable and near-universal outrage. The fact that Turner was given such a lenient prison sentence despite having been convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault was a dark reminder of how often the crime goes unpunished. Sadly, the many distressing statistics on rape and sexual assault make the scope of the problem undeniable.

It can be easy to underestimate how widespread of a phenomenon rape is, both in the United States and around the world, and that’s doubly true for people who haven’t been victimized themselves. The majority of sexual assaults go unreported, which brings disproportionately less visibility to both the victims and the perpetrators. Latent patriarchal attitudes (as well as outright misogyny and victim-blaming) can make it even more difficult to grasp how common rape is.

But make no mistake: Rape and sexual assault are very common. The following statistics come from a number of sources, including the Department of Justice, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). No matter how you slice it, sexual assault is an endemic problem that deserves far more attention that it receives. Note: These statistics apply only to the United States.

Rape Is Extremely Common

Over 20 million American women have been raped.

Somebody is sexually assaulted in the United States every two minutes.

One in five American women will be raped at some point in their lives.

Sexual Assault Almost Always Goes Unpunished

Out of every 1,000 instances of rape, there are only 63 arrests.

Just six out of every 1,000 rapists (less than 1 percent) will be incarcerated for their crimes.

Rape Usually Isn't Committed By Strangers

In 80 percent of rape cases, the victim knew their assailant beforehand.

Nearly 10 percent of American women have been raped by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

Sexual Assault On College Universities Is Even More Underreported

One in five women are sexually assaulted in college, the same share as in the general population. However, only 10 percent of these assaults are reported.

Between 2009 and 2014, 40 percent of universities didn’t investigate a single sexual assault allegation.

Child Sexual Abuse Is An Enormous Problem

About 63,000 children are sexually assaulted every year.

Twenty-five percent of American girls are sexually assaulted before they turn 18.

Thirty-four percent of people who sexually abuse children are family members.

Over one-third of women who were raped as children (under 18 years) report being raped as adults.

Rape Victims Are Disproportionately Female

Ninety-one percent of sexual assault victims are women.

One out of 71 men are raped at some point in their lifetimes, as opposed to one in five women.