The UGLY face of America

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Occurrence of Rape:

Rape is a serious problem in the United States today. The United States has the highest rape rate among countries which report such statistics. It is 4 times higher than that of Germany, 13 times higher than that of England and 20 times higher than that of Japan.

Above is a chart showing the estimated rape rate per 100,000 people in the United States between 1960 and 1998. The rape rate in the US in 1998 was 34.4 per 100,000 persons. In 1997 there was a decrease of 7% in the overall crime rate, but the rate of rape and sexual assault did not decline at all. (National Crime Victimization Survey, 1997)

Women are 10 times more likely than men to be victims of sexual assault (National Crime Victimization Survey, 1997). A study among college women has shown that 1 out of every 5 college age women report being forced to have sexual intercourse. (1995 National College Health Risk Behavior Survey) 22% of all women say that they have been forced to do sexual things against their will, where only 3% of men admit to ever forcing themselves on a woman. (Laumann, 1994

Reporting Statistics

Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992). In 1995 there were 97,460 rapes reported to law enforcement officials. At a 16% reporting rate, this means that there were actually closer to 649,733 rapes in the United States. Along the same lines, the number of rapes reported in New York state in 1996 was 20,911. At a 16% reporting rate, this means the actual number of rapes was closer to 139,406. (Computerized Criminal History, Feb. 1998)

The rate of false reports of rape is approximately 2 - 3% which is no different than that for other crimes. This is different than the 8% of reports which are unfounded. This means that in 8% of the rape cases reported the investigators or prosecutors deemed that the case was not prosecutable for any number of reasons. Only 2 - 3% of the reports however were fabricated stories.

Victim Characteristics

1 in 3 sexual assault victims are under the age of 12 (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999) and convicted rape and sexual assault offenders report that 2/3 of their victims were under the age of 18. Among victims age 18 - 29, two thirds had a prior relationship with the rapist. (National Crime Victimization Survey, Criminal Victimization, 1996)

18% of women who reported being raped before age 18 said they were also raped after age 18. (Violence Against Women Survey, 1998)

Perpetrator Characteristics

In 1997, 68.3% were perpetrated by someone who knew the victim. (Bureau of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey, 1997) 78% of women raped or physically assaulted since they turned 18 were assaulted by a current or former husband, live-in partner or date. 17% were victimized by an acquaintance, 9% by a relative other than a husband and only 14% were assaulted by a stranger. (National Violence Against Women Survey, 1998)

Assault Characteristics

Rape and sexual assault are not crimes that usually occur in dark alleys or in deserted areas at night. As a matter of fact 6 out of 10 sexual assaults occur in the home of the victim or the home of a friend, neighbor or relative. (Greenfeld, 1997) 43.4% of rapes and sexual assaults occur between the hours of 6PM and midnight Greenfeld, 1997) and about two thirds occur between the hours of 6 PM and 6 AM (Greenfeld, 1997).

Impact of Rape

Rape is a violent crime which has many severe effects on the victim both in the long term and in the short term. For example, 36% women who are injured during a rape require medical attention (National Violence Against Women Survey, Nov.1998). 25 - 45% of rape survivors suffer from non-genital trauma, 19 - 22% suffer from genital trauma, up to 40% obtain STDs and 1 - 5% become pregnant as a result of the rape. There are an estimated 32,000 rape related pregnancies in the United States annually. (Holmes, 1996) Sexual assault survivors' visits to their physicians increase by 18% the year of the assault, 56% the year after and 31% the second year after the assault. (Koss, 1993)

The consequences of rape are not always physical though, and are not always immediate. 80% of rape victims will suffer from chronic physical or psychological conditions over time. (Strategies for the Treatment and Prevention of Sexual Assault. 1995) Rape survivors are also 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than not crime victims and 6 times more likely than victims of other crimes. (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation, 1992) 26% of women with bulimia nervosa were raped at some point in their lives. The mental health costs of sexual assault victims are very high, studies have shown that 25 - 50% of rape and child sexual abuse victims receive some sort of mental health treatment as a result of the victimization. (Miller, 1996)

Overall, rape has the highest annual victim cost of any crime. The annual victim costs are $127 billion (excluding child sex abuse cases). This is followed by assault at $93 billion per year, murder (excluding arson and drunk driving) at $61 billion and child abuse at $56 billion per year. (Miller, 1996)

Conviction and Sentencing

Less than half of those arrested for rape are convicted, 54% of all rape prosecutions end in either dismissal or acquittal. The conviction rate for those arrested for murder is 69% and all other felons is 54%. (The Response to Rape: Detours on the Road to Equal Justice) 21% of convicted rapists are never sentenced to jail or prison time, and 24% receive time in local jail which means that they spend an average of less than 11 months behind bars. (The Response to Rape: Detours on the Road to Equal Justice)


1995 National College Health Risk Behavior Survey." Journal American College Health (Sept.1997)

Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, Criminal Victimization 1996, (November 1997)

Computerized Criminal History, Feb. 1998. NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, OJSA/Bureau of Statistical Services.

Greenfeld, Lawrence. (1997). Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Holmes, Melissa and Resnick, Heidi A. and Kirkpatrick, Dean G. and Best, Connie L. Rape-related Pregnancy: Estimates and Descriptive Characteristics from a National Sample of Women. 1996. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 175, 2, pp. 320-325.

Koss, Mary P., The Impact of Crime Victimization on Women's Medical Use. 1993. Journal of Women's Health, 2, 1, pp. 67-72.

Laumann, Edward, et al. "The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States." Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1994.

Miller, Ted R., Cohen, Mark A. and Wierama, Brian. Victim Costs and Consequences: A New Look. 1996. U. S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.

Natl. Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control, Research in Brief, Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey. (Nov.1998)

Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992. National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, University of South Carolina, Charleston.

"Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault," 1996. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, D.C.

Strategies for the Treatment and Prevention of Sexual Assault. 1995. American Medical Association. 1995. American Medical Association

The Response to Rape: Detours on the Road to Equal Justice. 1993. U.S. Congress. Report prepared by the Majority Staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


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