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New Justice Dept Study Shows Decline Continued in 2001

Defying the predictions of many criminologists, rape and sexual assault
continued to decline in 2001, according to data just released by the US
Department of Justice. There were 248,000 crimes of sexual violence in 2001,
less than half 1993's total of 485,000.

The new figures are a slight decline from 2000's total of 261,000 attacks.

The numbers come from Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey, an
annual study that is widely considered the most accurate crime measure in
the nation. NCVS counts only crimes against people 12 and older, so most
child sexual abuse is not reflected in the data. However, NCVS, which is
based on interviews with 79,950 people, does include all crimes against
adults and teenagers whether or not they were reported to police. (The FBI's
Uniform Crime Reports, the other major crime measure, counts only crimes
reported to police.)

According to NCVS estimates, there were 84,000 completed rapes in 2001, and 63,000 attempted rapes. There were also 102,000 sexual assaults (attacks
that fell short of rape). The total of 248,000 means that, somewhere, in
America, someone was raped or sexually assaulted every two minutes.

Less reliable, but also encouraging, are data that suggest more victims are
reporting their rape to police. About 38% of victims reported the crime to
police in 2001, up from an average of just over 30% in recent years.

It will take another year or two of data to ascertain whether this is a
statistical anomaly or a real change in behavior. In the past, victims have
indicated a number of reasons for declining to report, most notably that
they think it is a "personal matter," fear reprisal, or believe police are

The victimization rate, which measures the number of rapes and sexual
assaults per 1,000 people 12 and older (and thus accounts for population
changes), dropped by about 56% in the last eight years- from 2.5 to 1.1.

If there has been a relative constant in the statistics over the last 8
years, it has been in the victim-offender relationship. The vast majority
(between 62% and 74% ) of rapes and sexual assaults are committed by someone who is known to the victim - either an intimate, another relative or a
friend or acquaintance. The new NCVS shows that 2001 was no different: 66%
were committed by someone the victims knows (48% by a friend/acquaintance;
16% by an intimate; and 2% by another relative) while 30% were committed by
a stranger.

A complete copy of the 2001 NCVS and other statistics are available at

Excerpted from RAINNews, February 2003

Action Alert: Please call your members of Congress - Congress Considers Recognizing Sexual Assault Month


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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