The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

Sexual Assault Victims: Past, Present, and Future

Do you know someone who has been sexually assaulted? Have you been the victim of sexual assault. Chances are that you probably at least know one person that has. Although Sexual Assault Awareness month (April) has came and gone, it is never NOT a good time to discuss the topic. What I hope to accomplish in today's article is to look at some statistics on sexual assault, what it means to a person's past, how it affects his/her life now, and what it all means for the future of that individual.

According to this site, the following statistics stood out significantly on this topic:

How Often Does Rape Happen to Women?

  • One in Four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday.
  • In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 20% of women answered "yes" to the question "In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?" Thus, one in five college women has been raped at some point in her lifetime.
  • In a typical academic year, 3% of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape. This does not include the summer, when many more rapes occur.
  • In the year 2000, 246,000 women survived rape and sexual assault. This computes to 28 women every hour.
  • A survey of high school students found that one in five had experienced forced sex (rape). Half of these girls told no one about the incident.
  • Rape is common worldwide, with relatively similar rates of incidence across countries, with 19%-28% of college women reporting rape or attempted rape in several countries. In many countries, survivors are treated far worse than in the U.S.

Are Men Raped?

  • 3% of college men report surviving rape or attempted rape as a child or adult.
  • In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 4% of men answered "yes" to the question "In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?"

Who are the Perpetrators?

  • 99% of people who rape are men, 60% are Caucasian.
  • Between 62% and 84% of survivors knew their attacker.
  • 8% of men admit committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. Of these men who committed rape, 84% said that what they did was definitely not rape.
  • 35% of men report at least some degree of likelihood of raping if they could be assured they wouldn't be caught or punished.
  • First-year students in college tend to believe more rape myths than seniors.
  • Sexual assault offenders were substantially more likely than any other category of violent criminal to report experiencing physical or sexual abuse as children.
  • In one study, 98% of men who raped boys reported that they were heterosexual. 

Who are the Survivors?

  • 41% of college women who are raped were virgins at the time.
  • 42% of rape survivors told no one about the rape.
  • False reports of rape are rare, according to the FBI, occurring only 8% of the time.

Circumstances of Rape

  • 57% of rapes happen on dates.
  • 75% of the men and 55% of the women involved in acquaintance rapes were drinking or taking drugs just before the attack.
  • About 70% of sexual assault survivors reported that they took some form of self-protective action during the crime. The most common technique was to resist by struggling or chase and try to hold the attacker. Of those survivors who took protective action, over half believed it helped the situation, about 1/5 believed that it made the situation worse or simultaneously worse and better. 
  • 84% of rape survivors tried unsuccessfully to reason with the man who raped her.
  • 55% of gang rapes on college campuses are committed by fraternities, 40% by sports teams, and 5% by others.
  • Approximately 40% of sexual assaults take place in the survivor's home. About 20% occur in the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative. 10% occur outside, away from home. About 8% take place in parking garages.
  • More than half of all rape and sexual assault incidents occurred within one mile of the survivor's home or in her home.

What Happens After the Rape?

  • Throughout the last 10 years, the National Crime Victimization Survey has reported that approximately 30% of rape survivors report the incident to the police.
  • Of those rapes reported to the police (which is 1/3 or less to begin with), only 16% result in prison sentences. Therefore, approximately 5% of the time, a man who rapes ends up in prison, 95% of the time he does not.
  • 42% of rape survivors had sex again with the rapist.
  • 30% of rape survivors contemplate suicide after the rape.
  • 82% of rape survivors say the rape permanently changed them.

As I mull over these statistics, and as you read them as well, a mixture of emotions runs through me as I am a therapist, a female, and a survivor. It is difficult to take an objective standpoint on these issues with numbers glaring you in the face of the prevalence of rape- particularly among high school and college students. It is equally as scary that there are men who have admitted they would sexually assault someone if they new they would not be caught. It makes you wonder where the values and morals were instilled in the male psyche and how our culture possibly continues to perpetuate a dominant role for males and a submissive role for females. These meanderings are just food for thought.

So what DOES someone do with being a rape victim and survivor? Usually, victims tend to feel shameful, guilty, and as if it the rape was his/her own fault. Kind of like a "I was asking for it" mentality- especially if there was drinking involved. It's easy to go back to the situation and say, if I had only done this or not done that. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20, and RAPE IS NOT YOUR FAULT. No means no. Period.

It is strongly suggested that someone who has been sexually assaulted seek counseling in order to work through the issues and baggage that comes with being a victim of such trauma. If help is not sought, often times individuals turn to other means in order to cope such as eating disorders, becoming a workaholic, self-harm, and sometimes even suicide. It cannot be stressed enough that if you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, that you or that person should contact the police. This perpetrator could and probably will do it again to someone else.

There is a future beyond going through someone as traumatic as rape or sexual assault. With the proper support and working through issues of guilt and shame, you can learn that it was not your fault. You may not be able to forget- but you can definitely move forward. There are support groups, counselors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists who specialize in this very area. There are also many different therapeutic techniques to move past the flashbacks, the feelings of depression, and the anger you or the victim is experiencing. In order to find some local resources in your are on sexual assault, I recommend taking a look at this site:

In closing, SEEK HELP for being a victim of sexual assault. There are a lot of therapies, techniques, and resources to gain back your life.




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