Sexual Assault Statistics
The following discussion of sexual assault statistics took place on
WMST-L in February 2002. For additional WMST-L files now available
on the Web, see the WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2002 22:28:14 -0600
From: "Brenda L. Bethman" <bbethman @ NEO.TAMU.EDU>
Subject: Fw: stats for an argument
I received the following question from a colleague, and I'm afraid I don't
know the answers. I'm wondering if any of you happen to know the references
to the studies/statistics mentioned? If so, I'd appreciate any references
you might have (or an idea of where a good place to look it up would be).
Texas A&M University
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2002 9:17 PM
Subject: stats for an argument
Anyway, a couple of the men present have heard the statistic about 1 in X
women between ages of 16-24 being sexually assaulted but don't believe it's
true. They said that they'd never seen the study that statistic came from.
They also doubted the validity of a study that said a high percentage
college males would rape if they thought they would never get caught.
Would you happen to have info. on these two studies?
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 01:08:53 -0500
From: Judith Lorber <judith.lorber @ VERIZON.NET>
Subject: Re: unwanted sex
The statistic is about unwanted sex, not necessarily sexual assault, and it
probably comes from the Edward Laumann et al. survey of sexual behavior in
the US. The other statistic may also.
1. Laumann EO, Michael RT, Gagnon JH, et al. The Social Organization
of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. Chicago, Ill:
University of Chicago Press; 1994
Judith Lorber, Ph.D.
President, Eastern Sociological Society
319 East 24 Street, Apt. 27E
New York, NY 10010
Email: judith.lorber @ verizon.net
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 09:47:53 -0500
From: Molly Dragiewicz <mdragiew @ GMU.EDU>
Subject: rape/unwanted sex stats
It seems we have this discussion at least once a year on this list. Save
these references. It will come up again.
The 1 in 4 women have experienced attempted or completed rape stat is from
the Koss, Gidycz, and Wisniewski study, which contrary to anti-feminist
mythology (thanks for the misinformation Katie, New York Times, Christina
and IWF) has not been debunked.
Koss, M.P., Gidycz C.J. and Wisniewski, N. "The Scope of Rape: Incidence
and Prevalence of Sexual Aggression and Victimization Among a National
Sample of Students in Higher Education. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology 55 (1987): 162-70.
See my article "Women's Voices, Women's Words: Reading Acquaintance Rape
Discourse" in _Feminist Interpretations of Mary Daly_ (2000) for an analysis
of the rhetoric around the study.
Or, have them watch the video made on this topic - Media Education
Foundation- "The Date Rape Backlash: the Media Denial of Rape" 1994, about
an hour long. Your library probably owns it.
Or refer them to http://www.fair.org/extra/9311/rape-statistics.html
There are multiple studies where men talk about how they would rape of they
could get away with it, and that they deserve sex and can take it if they
buy dinner etc. Have your students look at the bibliography for Robin
Warshaw's _I Never Called it Rape_ 1988 and they can read all the studies
they like. They can also find some of these studies here
Those who claim to debunk the Koss et al. study, for example by claiming
that the women surveyed "denied they had been raped," or that the study
includes women who gave in to sex after being pressured as rape victims,
have never read the study. Read it yourself. It is explicit about what is
asked and how and why and what the responses were.
If you don't understand the study, contact Dr. Koss at the University of
Arizona, who will be happy to answer your questions. The study uses the
legal definition of rape to determine whether the incidents survey
respondents experience fit the definition.
Many women don't call rape "rape" until much later. They say things like "he
forced himself on me" "I said no but he wouldn't stop" etc. This is not the
same thing as "denying" they were raped. Many women don't think you are
allowed to use the word rape unless it's a stranger and comes with a
Asking questions about behavior is commonplace and considered good practice
in interviewing and surveying about sensitive issues. There are peer
reviewed publications that discuss this, too, if your students would care to
do a lit search on that topic.
Women's Studies and Cultural Studies
George Mason University
mdragiew @ gmu.edu
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 10:14:09 -0600
From: Deleene Menefee <Deleene.Menefee @ MAIL.UH.EDU>
Subject: Re: stats for an argument
The following is a brief list of empirical studies that have detected the
evidence of rape prevalence, most couched in terms such as "unwanted sex
experiences." Of special note are the studies by Mary Koss.
It was shocking to me to realize the depth of rape myths that still abound
in our society. As a part of my master's thesis, I examined traditional
attitudes towards women and rape myth acceptance among emergency health care
providers. It amazed me to see the number of men and women that have
victim-blaming attitudes and that fail to conceptualize certain scenarios as
rape. If those students (mentioned in the original post) were to accept all
scenarios where the lack of consent, coercion, threat, or intoxication are
present, then perhaps they would agree with the higher prevalence data that
exists. In my study, many participants endorsed forced sex when the woman
let her breasts be touched, allowed kissing and petting, or she had been
Since then, I have asked men in various situations if they believe that
there is ever a point of no return during sex. I wanted to know if men
really subscribe to the idea that they will completely lose control once sex
is initiated. When men were asked this question - outside of a rape
scenario - just in general, very few ascribed to this belief and many were
insulted by the question. This was so amazing. The same question asked
during a forced sex scenario (she let him touch her breasts and then he
couldn't stop) received the opposite results. As a teacher, I think getting
students to think through these types of scenarios and help them realize
what they hold as truths can be a powerful and enlightening experience.
43. Koss, M. P., Dinero, T. E., Seibel, C. A., & Cox, C. L. (1988).
Stranger and acquaintance rape: Are there difference in the victimÆs
experiences. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 12,
49. Koss, M. P. (1985). The hidden rape victim: Personality, attitudinal,
and situational characteristics. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, 193-212.
51. Lewin, M. (1985). Unwanted Intercourse: The difficulty of saying no.
Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, 184-192.
52. Muehlenhard, C. L., Friedman, D. E., & Thomas, C. M. (1985). Is date
rape justifiable? The effects of dating activity, who initiated, who paid,
and menÆs attitudes toward women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, 297-310.
54. Bostwick, T. D., & Delucia, J. L. (1992). Effects of gender and
specific dating behaviors on perceptions of sex willingness and date rape.
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 11, 14-25.
62. Kahn, A. S., Mathie, V. A., & Torgler, C. (1994). Rape scripts and
rape acknowledgment Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 53-66.64.
Abbey, A. (1987). Misperceptions of friendly behavior as sexual interest:
A survey of naturally occurring incidents. Psychology of Women Quarterly,
76. Behtke, T. M., & DeJoy, D. M. (1993). An experimental study of factors
influencing the acceptability of dating violence. Journal of Interpersonal
Violence, 8, 36-51.
77. Resick, P. A. (1983). The psychological impact of rape. Journal of
Interpersonal Violence, 8, 223-255.
78. Koss, M. P. (1993). Detecting the scope of rape: A review of
prevalent research methods. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 8, 198-222.
79. Koss, M. P., & Gaines, J. A. (1993). The prediction of sexual
aggression by alcohol use, athletic participation, and fraternity
affiliation. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 8, 94-108.
81. Frazier, P. A. (1993). A comparative study of male and female rape
victims seen at a hospital-based rape crisis program. Journal of
Interpersonal Violence, 8, 64-76.
87. Campbell, R., & Johnson, C. R. (1997). Police officers perceptions of
rape: Is there consistency between state law and individual beliefs? J. of
Interpersonal Violence, 12, 255-274.
109. Ullman, S. E., & Knight, R. A. (1991). A multivariate model for
predicting rape and physical injury outcomes during sexual assaults.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 724-731.
110. Shotland, R. L. (1992). A theory of the causes of courtship rape:
Part 2. Journal of Social Issues, 48, 127-143.
111. Koss, M. P/ (1992). The underdetection of rape: Methodological
choices influence incident estimates. Journal of Social Issues, 48, 61-75.
125. Koss, M. P., Leonard, K. E., Breezley, D. A., & Oros, C. J. (1985).
Nonstranger sexual aggression: A discriminant analysis of the psychological
characteristics of undetected offenders. Sex Roles, 12, 981-992.
126. Giacopassi, D. J., & Dull, R. T. (1986). Gender & racial differences
in the acceptance of rape myths within a college population. Sex Roles, 15,
127. Fischer, G. J. (1986). College student attitudes toward forcible date
rape: Changes after taking a human sexuality course. Journal of Sex
Education and Therapy, 12, 42-46.
128. Fischer, G. J. (9187). Hispanic and majority student attitudes toward
forcible date rape as a function of differences in attitudes toward women.
Sex Roles, 17, 93-101.
129. Koss, M. P., & Dinero, T. E. (1989). Discriminant analysis of risk
factors for sexual victimization among a national sample of college women.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 242-250.
130. Koss, M. P., & Oros, C. J. (1982). Sexual experiences survey: A
research instrument investigating sexual aggression and victimization. J.
Consult. Clin. Psychol, 50, 455-457.
131. Koss, M. P., & Gidycz, C. A. (1985). Sexual experiences survey
reliability and validity. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol, 53, 422-423.
137. Hall, E. R., Howard, J. A., & Boezio, S. L. (1986). Tolerance of
rape: A sexist or antisocial attitude. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 10,
138. Costin, F. (1985). Beliefs about rape and womenÆs social roles.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, 14, 319-325.
139. Check, J. V. P., & Malamuth, N. M. (1985). An empirical assessment of
some feminist hypotheses about rape. International Journal of WomenÆs
Studies, 8, 414-423.
171. Muehlenhard, C. L., Danoff-Burg, S., & Powch, I. G. (1996). Is rape
sex or violence? Conceptual issues and implications. In David M. Buss &
Neil M. Malamuth (Eds.), Sex Power, Conflict: Evolutionary and Feminist
Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 119-137.
University of Houston
dmenefee @ mail.uh.edu
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 10:42:58 -0500
From: Deborah Louis <louis @ UMBC.EDU>
Subject: Re: rape/unwanted sex stats
it might be useful to reinforce the more recent stats with the original
and follow-up studies by margaret bacon at rutgers in the mid-70s--her
results were so startling at the time that there was a lot of journal
interest, so references aren't hard to find...
debbie <louis @ umbc.edu>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 17:38:40 -0000
From: Judy Evans <jae29 @ BTINTERNET.COM>
Subject: Re: Fw: stats for an argument
holds references to the 1 in 4 women and
the "date rape controversy"
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 11:43:34 -0500
From: "Claire N. Kaplan" <cnk2r @ VIRGINIA.EDU>
Subject: Fwd: Ending Men's Violence Citebase (fwd) and 1:4 stat
Re: the 1 in 4 statistic. I tried to email an answer to the list, but as
usually happens for me, it bounced back because the server didn't recognize
whatever address my institution attached to it, so I hope this one
works. Everyone else has made the points I tried to make, so I won't
belabor them, but yes, it's Koss's research that revealed the 1:4 women are
raped from the age of 14, and which is constantly under attack. The
suggestion to look at "The Date Rape Backlash" was a good one. You can get
a copy of the video at http://www.mediaed.org/ . I also strongly recommend
"Tough Guise" which is distributed by the same people.
Also, I just received the following from Jack Stratton. I didn't attach
the document, as I don't think it's possible through this list. However,
if you email him, he can send it to you directly.
Attached you will find the latest version of my Ending Men's Violence
Citation Database. Those of you with version 1.4 will find 114 new
citations (look at the last column to see which go with which versions).
!!!Please send me items for inclusion in the next version!!!
For those of you who have never heard of it, what follows is a brief
This citation database (Citebase) is designed to provide phrasing and
reference information to increase the credibility of ending men's violence
activists with news media and public officials. We have come under attack
for saying things such as "The FBI says that a woman is battered every 7
seconds" with no research to back up what we claim. If you search the
Keyword columns of the Citebase for "DV" (or "Woman Abuse"), you will find
a number of studies to reference, mostly primary documents. E.g.,
"Within the last year, 7% of women (3.9 million) who are married or are
living with someone as a couple were physically abused, and 37% (20.7
million) were verbally or emotionally abused by their spouse or
partner."^1 That is 7.4 women battered per minute (once every 8.1 seconds),
and 39.3 verbally or emotionally abused (once every 1.5 seconds).
This phrase has a footnote attached that reads:
^1 Louis Harris and Associates, The Commonwealth Fund Survey of Women's
Health (The Commonwealth Fund, New York, 1993), p. 8. This form allows you
to copy from Citebase and paste into the letter or article you are writing,
with the footnote automatically renumbered by Microsoft Word.
Additional columns allow you to sort by author or editor and many contain
cross-references to other studies. Citebase currently has 377 entries in
categories of studies spanning:
Child Sexual Abuse
Custody (custodial coercion, battering in visitation sessions...)
DV -- Woman Abuse
Sexual assault Of men
Jack C. Straton
Portland State University
Portland, OR, 97207-0751
straton @ pdx.edu
Claire N. Kaplan
Coordinator, UVA Sexual Assault Education Office
Doctoral Candidate, Curry School of Education
UVA Women's Center * P.O. Box 800588 * Charlottesville VA * 22908-0588
434-982-2774 (V/TTY) 434-982-2901 (Fax)
ckaplan @ virginia.edu
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 16:05:01 -0500
From: Molly Dragiewicz <mdragiew @ GMU.EDU>
Subject: 1:4 stat
> 1:4 women are raped from the age of 14
This is not a correct citation of this study. Please note that the 1 in 4
proportion is for attempted _and_ completed rapes combined. In other words,
one in four respondents for the study reported a rape or attempted rape (as
defined by law in the state where Koss was teaching at the time of the
study) as part of their past sexual experiences during the time and ages
included in the study. The completed rape proportion is more like 1 in 10
according to "The Scope of Rape" study.
Women's Studies and Cultural Studies
George Mason University
mdragiew @ gmu.edu
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 17:42:04 -0500
From: Sharon Snow <ssnow @ ZOO.UVM.EDU>
Subject: stats on sexual assault
A recent nationwide study (2000) commissioned by the National
Institute of Justice and completed by Bonnie Fisher of the Univ of
Cincinnati found that 3% of college women are the victims of
attempted or completed rape each academic year. Fisher also found
that 15% of college women are subjected to stalking behaviors each
academic year. You can download the entire study at:
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