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Fact Sheet developed by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center


Sexual violence affects women, men and children throughout their lives and can be devastating for individuals, families, and communities. However, help is available. Together, we can change the conditions that contribute to sexual violence.


What is sexual violence?


Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence including: children, teens, adults, and elders. Those who sexually abuse

can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals or strangers.


Forms of sexual violence


  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Child sexual assault and incest
  • Intimate partner sexual assault
  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Showing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
  • Masturbating in public
  • Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission


Facts about sexual violence


FACT: Chances are you know someone who has been sexually assaulted.


  • Sexual violence affects people of all genders, ages, races, religions, incomes, abilities, professions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. However, social inequalities can heighten the risk.
  • By age 18, 1 in 4 girls will be sexually assaulted; by age 18, 1 in 6 boys will be assaulted (Finkelhor, Hotaling, Lewis & Smith, 1990).
  • At some time in their lives, 1 in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape; more than half occurred before the woman was 18, and 22% before age 12 (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000).
  • During their lives, 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape; 75% occurred before the men were 18, and 48% before age 12 (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000).


FACT: Victims usually know their assaulter.


  • People who sexually assault usually attack someone they know — a friend, classmate, neighbor, coworker, or relative.
  • Of adults, 73% knew the attacker, 38% were friends of the attacker, 28% were an intimate partner of the attacker, and 7% were a relative of the attacker (Maston & Klaus, 2005).
  • Child victims knew the offender before the attack 90% of the time (Greenfeld, 1996).
  • About 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home. Another 20% occur in the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative (Greenfeld, 1997).
  • FACT: Victims are never at fault for a sexual assault.
  • It doesn’t matter what someone is wearing or how they are acting, no one asks to be raped.
  • People who sexually assault often use force, threat, or injury.
  • An absence of injuries to the victim does not indicate the victim consented.


FACT: Rape is the least reported and convicted violent crime in the U.S.


There are many reasons why victims may choose not to report to law enforcement or tell anyone about what happened to him/her. Some include:


  • Concern for not being believed
  • Fear of the attackers getting back at him/her
  • Embarrassment or shame
  • Fear of being blamed
  • Pressure from others not to tell
  • Distrust of law enforcement
  • Belief that there is not enough evidence
  • Desire to protect the attacker
  • Many victims who do report a rape or sexual assault find that there is no arrest or conviction.
  • Probability of arrest after a report is 50.8% (Reynolds, 1999) and the probability of a rapist being sent to prison is 16.3% (Reynolds, 1999).


FACT: Sexual violence is preventable.


By working with your community’s sexual assault center, you can:


  • Model supportive relationships and behaviors with your friends and families
  •  Stand up for victims and believe them
  •  Speak up when you hear harmful comments or witness violent acts
  •  Create policies at your workplace or school system to stop sexual violence and help victims.
  •  Coordinate a community event to raise awareness about sexual violence or talk with community members about ways they can get involved Talk with your legislators and ask them to support prevention and victim services


FACT: Help is available


- The Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center can provide

help. 1-800-871-7741





Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis I.A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 14, 19-28.


Greenfeld, L.A. (1996). Child Victimizers: Violent offenders and their victims. (NCJ 153258). Retrieved from Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/CVVOATVX.PDF


Greenfeld, L.A. (1997). Sex offenses and offenders: An analysis of data on rape and sexual assault (NCJ 163392).

Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice.


Maston, C., & Klaus, P. (2005) Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2003 statistical tables: National Crime

Victimization Survey (NCJ 207811). Retrieved from Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cvus03.pdf


Reynolds, M.O. (1999). Crime and punishment in America: 1999 (Report No. 229). Retrieved from National Center for Policy Analysis: http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/st229.pdf


Tjaden, P. and Thoeness, N. (2000). Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women: finding from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Retrieved from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/183781.pdf





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Kennebec & Somerset Counties in Maine

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse... there is someone who will listen.

Call the Maine Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Line


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