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How often does it happen?

Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, though women, children and some demographic groups are more frequently victimized than others. The prevalence of sexual assault goes far beyond the cases that make it to the courtroom or the evening news. Sexual assault impacts hundreds of thousands of people each year in the United States from all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. However, low reporting rates and varying research designs make it difficult to find one set of statistics that tells the whole story.

Sexual Assault in Washington

  • In 2013, Community Sexual Assault Programs in Washington served 13,442 primary victims of sexual assault and 6,252 secondary sexual assault victims.1
  • 80% of Washington women's sexual assault experiences occurred prior to the age of 18.2
  • More than 33% of women in Washington State have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.2
  • Almost 20% of these women have been the victims of multiple assaults by different offenders.2
  • Only about 25% of the women who suffered physical injuries sought medical assistance, and only 33% sought counseling.2

Note: The survey from which these Washington statistics were drawn focused on adult women. We know from national data that men and boys are also victims of sexual assault.

Sexual Assault in the United States

  • Somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes.3
  • 22% of victims were younger than age 12 when they were first raped, and 32% were between the ages of 12 and 17.4
  • 25% of girls and 17% of boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.5
  • 70% of rape and sexual assault victims know their attacker prior to the assault.6
  • Of surveyed college women, about 90% of rape and sexual assault victims knew their attacker prior to the assault.7

Sexual Assault within Underserved Populations

  • 43% of lesbian and bisexual women, and 30% of gay and bisexual men, reported having experienced at least one form of sexual assault victimization during their lifetimes.8
  • 34% of Native American and Alaskan Native women reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, compared with 19% of African American women, 18% of white women, and 7% of Asian American women.9
  • Among adults who are developmentally disabled, as many as 83% of the females and 32% of the males are the victims of sexual assault.10
  • Women with disabilities are raped and abused at a rate at least twice that of the general population of women.11
  • A 2007 study found that 5% (or 60,500) of the more than 1.3 million inmates held in federal and state prisons had been sexually abused in the previous year alone.12


Related Content


  1. Office of Crime Victims Advocacy
  2. Sexual Assault Experiences and Perceptions of Community Response to Sexual Assault: A Study of Washington State Women, 2001 from the Office of Crimes Victims Advocacy
  3. National Crime Victimization Survey 2007 from the Department of Justice
  4. Prevalence, incidence, and consequences of violence against women: findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey from the Department of Justice (Report No.: NCJ 172837).
  5. Prevalence of individual adverse childhood experiences from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1995-1997)
  6. Criminal Victimization 1999: Changes 1998-99 with Trends 1993-99 from the Department of Justice
  7. The Sexual Victimization of College Women, 2000 from the Department of Justice
  8. Rothman, E., Exner, D., and Baughman, J. (2011). The prevalence of sexual assault against people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the United States: A Systematic Review. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 12(2), 55-66.
  9. Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Rape Victimization: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey from the Department of Justice
  10. Johnson, I., and Sigler, R. (2000). Forced sexual intercourse among intimates. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15(1), 95-108.
  11. Sobsey. D,. (1994). Violence and abuse in the lives of people with disabilities: The end of silent acceptance. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co, Inc.
  12. Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prisons Reported by Inmates, 2007 from the Bureau of Justice Statistics
Reviewed: April 13th, 2015