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Sexual violence affects millions of people each year in the United States. Researchers know that the numbers underestimate this significant problem as many cases go unreported. Victims may be ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to tell the police, friends, or family about the violence. (CDC.gov)
Sexual assault and domestic violence are difficult things to talk about. Talk about them anyway.
From October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020, REACH:
- Provided services to 536 survivors of sexual violence.
- 582 Crisis Intervention Contacts:
- 486 Crisis Hotline Calls
- 96 In-Person Crisis Interventions (Pre-COVID)
- 2849 Individual Counseling Sessions
- 159 of the 536 survivors were children under the age of 18.
- Sexual violence is common. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 38 men have experienced completed or attempted rape.
- Sexual violence starts early. 1 in 3 female rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old and 1 in 8 reported that it occurred before age 10. Nearly 1 in 4 male rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old and about 1 in 4 reported that it occurred before age 10.
- Sexual violence is costly. Recent estimates put the cost of rape at $122,461 per victim, including medical costs, lost productivity, criminal justice activities, and other costs.
- Child sexual abuse is a significant but preventable public health problem. Many children wait to report or never report child sexual abuse. Although estimates vary across studies, the data shows:
- About 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience child sexual abuse at some point in childhood.
- 91% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child or child’s family knows.
The total lifetime economic burden of child sexual abuse in the United States in 2015 was estimated to be at least $9.3 billion. Although this is likely an underestimate of the true impact of the problem since child sexual abuse is underreported.
Sexual Violence Statistics for LGBTQ Community
For LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault, their identities – and the discrimination they face surrounding those identities – often make them hesitant to seek help from police, hospitals, shelters or rape crisis centers, the very resources that are supposed to help them.
Within the LGBTQ community, transgender people and bisexual women face the most alarming rates of sexual violence.
- The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
- 85 percent of victim advocates surveyed by the NCAVP reported having worked with an LGBTQ survivor who was denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Nearly half (48 percent) of bisexual women who are rape survivors experienced their first rape between ages 11 and 17.
- 948,074 California residents were sexually assaulted.
- Incidents of rape or sexual assault in California totaled $2.1 million.
- Costs of sexual violence in California totaled $148 billion.
- Every prevented rape of an adult could save up to $163,800.
- Every prevented rape or sexual assault of a child could save up to $227,700.
Sexual Assault – an umbrella term used to include both rape and all acts that do not conform to the legal term “rape.” Sexual assault includes lewd and lascivious acts, battery, molestation, and sodomy; it includes acts perpetrated against males (4).
Rape – the act of vaginal, oral, or anal penetration perpetrated without the victim’s consent. California law specifically identifies “sexual intercourse” and not the broader term “penetration” as the nonconsensual behavior classified as rape (Penal Code § 261). (4)
Intimate Partner Sexual Violence – sexual assault can occur in any committed relationship because these crimes hinge on a lack of consent. Committing to a partner through a civil union, marriage, or by virtue of being together for several years does not remove the requirement to seek consent from one’s partner prior to any kind of sexual activity. (4)
Acquaintance Rape – Acquaintance rape and intimate partner rape are sometimes referred to as nonstranger rape, as opposed to stranger rape by an unknown person. Often referred to as “date rape.” While this term is sometimes used interchangeably with acquaintance rape, it may be considered outdated because young people often don’t define their encounters as “dates.” It is critical to understand that sexual assault most often occurs between people who know each other at least by sight because this will likely be the predominant experience of survivors. (4)
Alcohol- and/or Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault – Drug-facilitated sexual assault occurs when alcohol or drugs are used to compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sexual activity. These substances make it easier for a perpetrator to commit sexual assault because they inhibit a person’s ability to resist and prevent them from remembering the assault. (5).
Regardless of how much alcohol and/or drugs a person consumes, it is not an invitation for another person to engage in sexual activity with them without their consent. Regardless of the level of drugs and/or alcohol in a survivor’s system, sexual assault is never their fault.
Alcohol does not cause sexual assault. The perpetrator makes a choice and uses alcohol as a tool to facilitate their actions. (4).
Statutory Rape – occurs when an adult, someone over the age of 18, has sexual intercourse with a person who is under the legal age of consent (which in California is 18 years old) when the person is not their spouse (Cal. Penal Code §§ 261.5, 269, 288.7, 1170). The distinction here is that the violation is not necessarily due to force but because the minor is not legally able to consent for statutory reasons. (4)
Sexual Battery (Unlawful Sexual Contact) – any touching of an intimate part of another without consent or causing a person to touch the intimate parts of the offender, themselves, or a third person without consent for sexual gratification and arousal (Cal. Penal Code §§ 243.4, 269, 288.7, 1170). Sexual battery can occur regardless of whether the survivor is dressed or undressed. (4)
Sexual harassment – a form of sex discrimination and is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment falls into two main categories:
1. Patterns of behavior that are physical (touching, pinching, etc.), verbal (comments, advances, whistling, etc.), or visual (pictures, notes, texts, etc.) that create a hostile work environment;
2. Quid pro quo – which means a person gets something, like a promotion, in return for engaging in sexual activity, usually with someone higher up in the company’s organizational chart.
Child Sexual Abuse – Sexual contact between an adult and a child is considered sexual abuse. Some sexual contact between children may also be abusive if there is a significant age or developmental disparity between the children. There are a wide variety of behaviors that can be considered child sexual abuse. For more information, please click here. (4)
Voyeurism/Peeping – the act of gaining sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity. It may be done through cyber technology.
Exhibitionists – also referred to as “flashers,” show their genitals to unwilling individuals. Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent. (4)
Sexual exploitation and trafficking – Selling children, teens, or adults (including immigrants) for sexual use is called “sex trafficking.” For more information, please click here. (4)
Consent must be freely given and informed, and a person can change their mind at any time. Consent is more than a yes or no. It is a dialogue about desires, needs, and levels of comfort with different sexual interactions. (6)
Just because they did not explicitly verbalize a “no,” that does not mean they gave consent.
Key elements of consent:
- Must be active and freely given
- Can only be given when all parties are informed about what is happening
- Can be withdrawn at any time
- Silence is not consent
- We can say yes to one thing, and no to another
Consent cannot be given when a person is:
- Intoxicated with drugs and/or alcohol
- Too young to provide consent (California law says minors, under the age of 18, cannot provide consent).
- Coerced or manipulated into saying yes
- Mistaken into believing their sexual partner is someone else
- Forced, threatened, or physically restrained against their will
- Fearful for their life and well-being or the well-being of others
- Developmentally disabled or has cognitive impairment severe enough to prevent them from understanding and agreeing to sexual activities
The consequences of sexual violence are far-reaching and extend beyond the survivor. It affects family and loved ones and impacts all of society.
The body’s natural reactions to the trauma of sexual assault frequently have negative effects on a person’s long-term emotional, physical, and mental health. Likewise, these same reactions can occur with friends, family, and loved ones of the survivor.
Communities also feel the effects of sexual violence. These effects can include fear, anger, and disbelief when the assault occurs in their community. Additionally, there are economic impacts of sexual assault on residents.
Impact on the Survivor
Each survivor reacts to sexual violence in their own way. A survivor’s age, culture, support networks, and lived experiences may impact their reactions. Some survivors may express their emotions while others do not. Some survivors may choose to share their story, while others will wait weeks or even years, and some never do.
It is important to respect that each survivor has their own response and time frame for healing.
Some of the more common acute and long-term reactions to sexual assault:
|Shame||Flashbacks of the assault|
|Embarrassment||Depression and other mood disorders|
|Isolation||Substance use or abuse|
|Lack of control||Phobias or fears|
|Numbness||Thoughts of self-harm, including suicide|
Impact on Loved Ones
Reactions of friends and family members may vary from one person to another. However, the experiences of loved ones often look similar to those of the survivors. They may have feelings of self-blame, guilt, and anger. Loved ones may have difficulty knowing what to say or how to act to provide support.
Common reactions may include:
- Shock and disbelief
- Responsibility to make things better
Unfortunately, it is common that some loved ones may also feel denial, anger, or mistrust toward the survivor and may not be appropriate support.
Impact on Community
Schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, campuses, and cultural or religious communities also feel the effects of sexual violence. Sexual violence disrupts community well-being.
There is also a financial impact. Costs can include medical, criminal justice, and crisis/mental health expenses; as well as the lost contributions of individuals affected by sexual violence. The costs of sexual violence in California in 2012 totaled $148 billion. (3).
Impact on Society
While the emotional and mental impact of sexual violence on our society can be too deep to measure, the monetary impact on the victims and society can be measured.
- The estimated lifetime cost of rape is $122,461 per victim or a population economic burden of nearly $3.1 trillion (2014 U.S. dollars) over victims’ lifetimes. (Based on data indicating more than 25 million U.S. adults have been raped.)
- This study, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated:
- $1.2 trillion (39% of total) in medical costs
- $1.6 trillion (52%) in lost work productivity among victims and perpetrators
- $234 billion (8%) in criminal justice activities
- $36 billion (1%) in other costs, including victim property loss or damage
- Government sources pay an estimated $1 trillion (32%) of the lifetime economic burden.
Sexual violence disproportionately impacts communities of color. According to the Department of Justice, while 80% of rapes are reported by white women, women of color are more likely to be assaulted than white women. CDC reports lifetime estimates of rape or attempted rape of women range from:
- 32.3% among multiracial women
- 27.5% among American Indian/Alaska Native women,
- 21.2% among Black women
- 20.5% among non-Hispanic white women
- 13.6% among Hispanic women
- 39.5% of multiracial men,
- 26.6% of Hispanic men
- 24.5% American Indian/Alaska Native
- 22.2% Black men
- 22.2% Non-Hispanic white men have also experienced some form of SV in their lifetime.
Furthermore, among sexual minorities:
- 46.1% and 13.1% of bisexual and lesbian women, respectively, have experienced rape at some point in their lives
- 74.9% and 46.4%, respectively, have experienced other forms of SV in their lifetime.
- Among men, 47.2% bisexual men and 40.2% gay men have experienced some form of SV other than rape in their lifetime.
Further disparities in communities of color:
African American Women
Approximately 60% of Black girls experience sexual abuse by age 18.
For every Black woman that reports her rape, at least 15 Black women do not report it.
Approximately 7.9% of Latinas will be raped by a spouse, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend during their lifetime.
Married Latinas are less likely than other women to immediately define their experiences of forced sex as rape and terminate their relationships; some view sex as a marital obligation.
Asian/Pacific Islander Women
According to a compilation of studies, between 21-55% of Asian women report experiencing intimate physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
API women tend to report lower rates of rape and other forms of sexual violence than do people of color from other racial backgrounds.
Native American Women
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1 of 3 Native American women will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
Native American women are 2.5 to 3.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault compared to the statistics of all other races.
3. CalCASA. The Cost and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California by CALCASA, 2018
8. Peterson, C., DeGue, S., Florence, C., & Lokey, C. N. (2017). Lifetime economic burden of rape among U.S. adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 52(6), 691–701.
No one can be raped against his or her will.
Rape is a crime of power and aggression with the use of intimidation, threats and often, physical force. Most victims believe their lives are in danger.
Any person can be the victim of sexual violence. Nearly 1 in 4 men experienced sexual violence, involving physical contact during their lifetime. (CDC, 2020)
44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
Myth vs Reality Source: NSVRC
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT?
What is rape?
What is "date rape"?
WHAT IS PARTNER RAPE? (OR SPOUSAL RAPE)
Partner Rape is defined as sexual acts committed without a person’s consent and/or against a person’s will when the perpetrator is the individual’s current partner (married or not), previous partner, or cohabitator.
What is stalking?
WHAT IS DRUG FACILITATED ASSAULT?
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