Rape victims are significantly more
likely to report their attack to
the police than they were just a
few years ago, according to the
2002 National Crime Victimization
Survey (NCVS), just released by
the US Department of Justice's Bureau
of Justice Statistics.
The percentage of all rapes and
sexual assaults that were reported
to police rose to 53.7% last year,
up from less than 30% in 1999, the
report found. While this increase
should be interpreted cautiously,
given the small sample size, it
does continue a trend that began
in 2000. From 2000-2002, an average
of 46.8% of rape victims reported
the attack to police, up from an
average of 30.8% from 1993-1995.
The report also showed that the
total number of rapes and sexual
assaults in the US continued its
record decline last year. In 2002,
there were 247,730 rapes and sexual
assaults against victims age 12
and older. This is a slight decline
from the 2001 total of 248,250,
and a massive decline from 1993's
total of 485,000. There was one
rape/sexual assault every 2 minutes
last year, about the same as in
Of this total of about 248,000
sexual crimes last year, about 87,000
were completed rapes, 70,000 were
attempted rapes and 91,000 were
The annual NCVS study is based
on interviews with 76,050 Americans.
Children 11 and younger are not
interviewed, and so crimes against
them are not included in NCVS totals.
NCVS is considered the most comprehensive
and trustworthy source of crime
stats in the country (as a measure
of crime against people 12 and older).
Unlike the FBI's Universal Crime
Reports, NCVS includes crimes whether
or not they were reported to police.
Experts believe two trends are
largely responsible for the tremendous
decline in sexual violence over
the last decade. "First, tough-on-crime
policies of recent years, including
longer sentences, three-strikes
laws and mandatory minimums, mean
fewer criminals overall are on the
streets. Because rapists commit
many kinds of crimes, and because
all kinds of criminals commit rape,
locking up an armed robber or drug
dealer will often prevent future
sexual assaults," said Scott
Berkowitz, president and founder
of the Rape, Abuse & Incest
National Network (RAINN), America's
largest anti-sexual assault organization.
"The second trend is generational.
Rape victims are overwhelmingly
young-80% are under 30 years old.
This generation has grown up knowing
that 'No Means No,' and young women
today are both more careful about
entering into potentially dangerous
situations and more willing to forcefully
express their own desires,"
Berkowitz continued. "This
generational shift, combined with
increased media attention and a
greater societal openness about
the issue, are likely the key factors
in the increased willingness to
report to police."
Separately, RAINN reported that
calls to the National Sexual Assault
Hotline, 1.800.656.HOPE, are up
by 27% this year to more than 10,000
per month, further evidence of the
effects of increased media attention.
Other key stats from the new
69% were attacked by a non-stranger
(57% friend/acquaintance, 10% intimate,
2% other relative)
28% by a stranger
About 12.8% of victims were male,
higher than in previous years, but
women were nearly seven times more
likely to be victims than men.
--31,640 male victims (0.3 per 1000
persons age 12 and older)
--216,090 female victims (1.8 per
1000 persons 12 and older)
Overall Decline from 1993 through
Rape down by 60% (from 1.0 per 1000
persons age 12 and older to 0.4
Attempted rape down by 57.1% (from
0.7 per 1000 to 0.3 per 1000)
Sexual assault down by 62.5% (from
0.8 per 1000 to 0.3 per 1000)
The complete NCVS 2002 report can
be downloaded at www.rainn.org/ncvs_2002.pdf.
PAST RAINN NEWS COLUMNS:
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation's largest
anti-sexual assault organization. With a national perspective and broad
reach, RAINN is a trusted resource for media, policymakers and the public.
Additionally, RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at
1.800.656.HOPE. Comprised of more than 1,000 local affiliates, the hotline
has helped more than half a million victims of sexual assault since 1994.
For more information, please visit the RAINN website at www.rainn.org