Learn More about Sexual Violence

What is sexual violence

  • Sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim
  • Sexual violence is defined as a sexual act committed against someone without that person’s freely given consent.
  • Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent.
  • any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work


  • Among female rape victims, perpetrators were reported to be intimate partners (51.1%), family members (12.5%), acquaintances (40.8%) and strangers (13.8%)
  • In a nationally representative survey of adults, 37.4% of female rape victims were first raped between ages 18-24.
  • Among female victims of partner violence who filed a protective order, 68% reported they were raped by their intimate partner and 20% reported a rape-related pregnancy.



  • Of adults, 73% knew the attacker, 38% were friends of the attacker, 28% were an intimate partner of the attacker, and 7% were a relative of the attacker
  • Perpetrators of acquaintance rape might be a date, but they could also be a classmate, a neighbor, a friend’s significant other, or any number of different roles. 


  • Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to:
    • rape within marriage or dating relationships
    • rape by strangers or acquaintances
    • unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment (at school, work etc.)
    • systematic rape, sexual slavery and other forms of violence, which are particularly common in armed conflicts (e.g. forced impregnation)
  • In addition, sexual violence may also take place when someone is not able to give consent – for instance, while intoxicated, drugged, asleep or mentally incapacitated.
  • Sexual violence frequently goes hand in hand with Coercion. Coercion can encompass: • varying degrees of force; • psychological intimidation; • blackmail; or • threats (of physical harm or of not obtaining a job/grade etc.).



  • Based on 2005 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), for both women and men, links were found between history of nonconsensual sex and high cholesterol, stroke and heart disease; female victims of nonconsensual sex were more likely to report heart attack and heart disease compared to non-victims.
  • More than 32,000 pregnancies result from rape every year with the highest rates of rape-induced pregnancy reported by women in abusive relationships



      • Chronic pain
      • Gastrointestinal disorders
      • Gynecological complications
      • Migraines and other frequent headaches
      • Sexually transmitted infections
      • Cervical cancer
      • Genital injuries


  • Emotional detachment
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Flashbacks
  • Mental replay of assault
      • Shock
      • Denial
      • Fear
      • Confusion
      • Anxiety
      • Withdrawal
      • Shame or guilt
      • Nervousness
      • Distrust of others
      • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
      • Depression
      • Generalized anxiety
      • Attempted or completed suicide
      • Post-traumatic stress disorder
      • Diminished interest/avoidance of sex
      • Low self-esteem/self-blame


      • Strained relationships with family, friends, and intimate partners
      • Less emotional support from friends and family
      • Less frequent contact with friends and relatives
      • Lower likelihood of marriage
      • Isolation or ostracism from family or community