A person can be sexually assaulted if she or he didn’t fight back, if the offender didn’t use a weapon, if the survivor had used alcohol or drugs, and if the survivor and offender previously had consensual sex together.
Most sexual violence does not include the use of a weapon. In 2010, weapons were not involved in 79% of rapes.i
Many survivors do not physically resist during an assault because they are surprised, confused, frozen with fright, incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, or because they sense that fighting back will increase the chance that they’ll be hurt or killed.
Consider a different context: many mugging victims hand over their wallets because they’re afraid they’ll be harmed, but that doesn’t mean they wanted to have their wallet stolen. And they’re still considered a mugging victim, even if they didn’t fight back.
i U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2011). Criminal Victimization, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are at increased risk to be the victims of hate crimes, sometimes of a sexual nature.
In 2012, 2,016 hate and bias incidents against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or HIV affected (LGBTQH) victims were reported to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP).i
Transgender people may experience a higher level of both intimate partner violence and sexual assault.ii
i Hate and bias crime (2015). Retrieved from http://victimsofcrime.org/docs/default-source/ncvrw201/2015ncvrw_stats_hatecrime.pdf?sfvrsn=2
ii National Center for Victims of Crime and National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. (2010). Why it Matters: Rethinking Victim Assistance for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Victims of Hate Violence & Intimate Partner Violence. Retrieved from http://www.victimsofcrime.org/docs/Reports%20and%20Studies/WhyItMatters_LGBTQreport_press.pdf
Many domestic and sexual violence services programs in Oregon offer LGBTQ-specific support groups, resource referrals, and advocacy for LGBTQ survivors. To find a program in your area, visit: http://www.ocadsv.org/looking-help
Sexual violence occurs when a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity, including when she or he is unable to consent due to age, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or drugs.*
*National Sexual Violence Resource Center. (2015). Understanding sexual violence: Tips for parents & caregivers of children. Retrieved from http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/saam_2015_understanding-sexual-violence-tips-for-parents.pdf
Sexual Violence Facts
In Oregon, more than 1 in 4 women will experience rape. More than half of women and
nearly 1 in 5 men will experience other forms of sexual violence in their lifetime.i
Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.ii
Most people are sexually assaulted by someone they know. The offender usually isn’t a stranger hiding in the bushes or dark alley.
Most survivors know the person who assaulted them. Approximately 4/5 of rapes and 82% of sexual assaults were committed by someone the survivor knew, like an intimate partner, relative, friend, date, or acquaintance.iii
4 in 10 sexual assaults take place at the victim’s home. 2 in 10 sexual assaults take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.iv
Many survivors choose to report the sexual violence to the police, and many survivors choose not to report.
In 2014, 34% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to the police.v
There are reasons why someone would choose to report the crime (wanting to feel safe, wanting the person who harmed them to be held accountable, etc.), and reasons why someone would choose not to report the crime (fearing the offender will retaliate, fearing he/she won’t be believed, not trusting law enforcement or the criminal justice system to handle the situation, wanting accountability outside of the justice system, etc.). It is not your role to decide if your loved one should report the crime to the police. You can be helpful by listening to your loved one and supporting his or her decision, even if it is not the decision you think you would make or that your loved one should make.
Even if your loved one decides not to report the sexual assault, she or he can access medical treatment and find support through your local sexual violence services program.
i Prevention and Education Committee of the Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force (2015). Intersections of Oppression and Sexual Violence. Oregon.
v U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2014). National crime victimization survey criminal victimization, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv14.pdf
Survivors don’t “ask” to be sexually assaulted by the clothes they wear.
Sexual violence is different than sex. Sex is consensual, meaning that the people involved want to engage in the sexual activity at that time and are legally able to give consent. Sexual violence is not consensual—it is forced, coerced, or involves someone who is not able to legally consent.
Sexual violence is about more than just sex. When someone commits sexual violence, it’s more about that person feeling a sense of power and control than it is about that person just feeling sexual attraction.
Your loved one is not “ruined.” Women, men and children, can—and do—rebuild their lives after sexual violence.
Sexual violence isn’t “an accusation from someone who really wanted to have sex but felt guilty afterwards” or “reported by someone who wanted to get even with an ex.”
Estimates for false reports of sexual assault are around 2-8%,i similar to the estimates of false reports of other crimes.
Sexual violence is a vastly underreported crime. It’s more likely for women, children, and men who have been sexually assaulted to deny that they have been assaulted than it is that a person will falsely accuse someone of an assault.
i Lonsway, K. A., Archambault, J. & Lisak, D. (2009) False reports: Moving beyond the issue to successfully investigate and prosecute nonstranger sexual assault. The Voice, 3(1) Retrieved from
Things to think about if your partner recently survived sexual violence:
Listen. Keep listening. And then listen some more. It’s important for your partner to be able to feel safe when talking about the violence. You might want to distract your partner or have your partner stop thinking about what happened, but let your partner talk about the assault if she or he wants to.
Before touching or holding your loved one, ask if it’s okay. Be sure not to pressure your partner to have sex before she or he is ready. If you want to discuss sex, talk about it in a non-sexual environment (for example, not in bed).
More information about sexual violence and support is available at:
Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence: http://www.ocadsv.com/
Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force: http://oregonsatf.org/
National Sexual Violence Resource Center: http://www.nsvrc.org/
Oregon Statewide Crisis Line: 888-235-5333
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE
Many survivors wait days, weeks, months, or years before they tell anyone about the sexual violence.
American Indian and Alaska Native women are twice as likely to experience rape or sexual assault as white, black, or Asian and Pacific Islander women.i
A recent study found that of a nationwide sample of 2,000 Latinas, 17% had been sexually assaulted at some point during their lifetime.ii
Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18.iii
Most sexual assaults are committed against a person of the same race or ethnic background. One of the common myths related to sexual violence is that men of color, particularly black men, are more likely to commit sexual assault, and that they are more likely to assault white women. This is not true.
i Perry, S. W. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2002). American Indians and crime. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/otj/docs/american_indians_and_crime.pdf
ii Cuevas, C.A. & Sabina, C. (2010). Final report: sexual assault among Latinas (SALAS) study, Unpublished report.
iii Axtell, B. Black women, sexual assault and the art of resistance. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.bwhi.org/news/2013/04/16/women-health-news/sexual-violence-in-the-lives-of-african-american-women/
Sexual violence happens in all communities, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Racisim is still a reality that creates barriers for people, communities, and systems. Survivors of color may encounter unique challenges or barriers, including unequal access to services; services that are not culturally-appropriate; language barriers; cultural considerations; distrust of law enforcement; and encountering assumptions, stereotypes, and even racist views from the practitioners and systems designed to help.
In Oregon, culturally-appropriate services are provided through:
Healing Roots Village: http://bradleyangle.org
Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization: www.irco.org
Native American Youth & Family Center: www.nayapdx.org
South Asian Women's Empowerment and Resource Alliance: www.dvrc-or.org/sawera-1/
Self Enhancement: www.selfenhancement.org
Many local domestic and sexual violence services programs have culturally-and linguistically-appropriate programs available as well