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New Report Shows Dramatic Increase in
Willingness to Report Rapes to Police
Sexual Assaults Down by Half Over Last Decade

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 2001.

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 sexual assaults.

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 report:

Victim/Offender Relationship:
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 2002:
Rape down by 60% (from 1.0 per 1000 persons age 12 and older to 0.4 per 1000)
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.



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

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