Sexual Assault Statistics

Sexual Violence in Florida

Statistics can't convey all the impact that sexual violence has on victims and their families. However, they can provide a glimpse into how many persons are victimized, who they are, and the characteristics of the crimes.

The only statistics currently published in Florida are the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's totals gathered from law enforcement agencies throughout the state. These numbers do not reflect the total number of individuals that were victimized by sexual offenses, but represent only sexual offenses that were reported to law enforcement.

Total Forcible Sex Offenses Reported in Florida, 2007*

  • Forcible rape: 6,145
  • Forcible sodomy 1,402
  • Forcible fondling 3,667
  • Total Sexual Offenses Reported 11,214
  • 3,064 arrests were made for forcible sex offenses in Florida in 2007

(*Florida Statistical Analysis Center: FDLE, Crime in Florida, Florida Uniform Crime Report; Tallahassee, FL)


General Sexual Assault Statistics

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010*(1):

Women:

  • 1,266,000 women in Florida have been raped at some point in their lives. That’s 17% or 1 in 6 women in Florida. 
  • 41.8% of women, or 3,111,000, in Florida have been victimized by sexual violence other than rape.
  • 79.6% of female victims who have experienced one or more completed rape experienced the first rape before the age of 25; 42.2% were under 18 at the time of the first completed rape.

Men:

  • 20.4% of men, or 1,437,000 men, in Florida have been victimized by sexual violence other than rape.
  • More than one-quarter (27.8%)  of male victims who have experience at least one completed rape experienced the first rape when they were 10 years of age or younger.

*For this survey, rape is defined as completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated forced penetration. “Sexual violence other than rape” means unwanted sexual contact short of penetration, and unwanted, coerced penetration.

Reporting Rates

The National Women’s Study Replication, funded by the National Institute of Justice, in 2005 found that nationally only 18% of forcible rapes are reported to law enforcement.(2)  The study found only 10% of drug and alcohol facilitated rapes are reported. (2)

Women and Men with Disabilities 

A study of women with mobility and mobility and cognitive disabilities found participants experienced approximately twice the rate of lifetime sexual and physical abuse as generally reported for women without disabilities. (3)  A Massachusetts study found that the prevalence of lifetime sexual violence victimization was 13.9% among men with disabilities versus 3.7% among men without disabilities. (4)

Military 

According to Department of Defense statistics gathered by the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN)(5):

  • 3,158 military sexual assaults were reported in fiscal year 2010, a decrease of 2% from fiscal year 2009. Only about a quarter of these sexual assaults occurred during deployment to a combat zone.
  • While sexual assaults are notoriously underreported, this problem is exacerbated in military settings. The Department of Defense estimates that only 13.5% of survivors report the assault, and that in 2010 alone, over 19,000 sexual assaults occurred in the military.

Young Victims of Violence

Multiple studies and research over the past twenty years continue to confirm that childhood sexual abuse puts children at significant risk for a wide range of medical, psychological, behavioral, and sexual disorders that can persist into and throughout adulthood. (6)

The 2009 National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, found:

  • 6.1% of all children surveyed had been sexually victimized in the past year and nearly 1 in 10 (9.8%) over their lifetimes
  • Adolescents ages 14‐17 were by far the most likely to be sexually victimized; nearly one in six (16.3%) was sexually victimized in the past year
  • More than one in four adolescents (27.3%) had been sexually victimized during their lifetimes most commonly by flashing/exposure by a peer, sexual harassment and sexual assault. (Finkelhor et al., 2009)

References

  1. Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

  2. Kilpatrick, Dean G., Ph.D. (2010, September 14) Hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs “Rape in the United States: The Chronic Failure to Report and Investigate Rape Cases.” 

  3. Powers, L. E., Curry, M. A., Oschwald, M., Maley, S., Saxton, M, & Eckels, K. (2002). Barriers and strategies in addressing abuse: A survey of disabled women’s experiences. Journal of Rehabilitation, 68(1), 4-13. 

  4. Mitra, Monika, PhD, Mouradian,Vera E., PhD, Diamond, Marci, MPA. Sexual Violence Victimization Against Men with Disabilities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine ( 2011) 

  5. Stalsburg, B. (July 2011). Rape, Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in theh Military: The Quick Facts. Service Women’s Action Network. Retrieved May 18, 2012, from http://servicewomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Rape-Sexual-Assault-and-Sexual-Harassment-in-the-Military.pdf

  6. Maniglio,R. (2009). The Impact of Child Sexual Abuse on Heath: A systematic review of reviews. Clinical Psychology Review. 2009. 

  7. Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., Ormrod, R. K., Hamby, S. L., & Krack, K. (2009). Children’s exposure to violence: A comprehensive national survey. Juvenile Justice Bulletin, 1–11


Facts About Male Sexual Violence

  • Men and boys can be victims of sexual violence as children, teens or as adults.
  • The sexual abuse of boys has nothing to do with an abuser’s or victim’s sexual orientation.
  • Most perpetrators of male sexual assault are men, and they rape both gay and straight men or boys because rape is an act of violence, not of sexual desire.
  • Girls and women can sexually abuse boys. The boys are not “lucky,” but exploited and harmed.
  • Most boys who are sexually abused will not go on to sexually abuse others. (1)
  • Some men are assaulted by a stranger, or a group of strangers, while others may be assaulted by someone they know.
  • Some attackers use weapons, physical force, or the threat of force to gain the upper hand. Others may use blackmail or their position of authority to threaten someone into submission.
  • No matter how it occurs, it is a violation of a man's body and his free will and it can have lasting emotional consequences. (2)

Prevalence

  • In a 2005 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, on San Diego Kaiser Permanente HMO members, 16% of males reported they were sexually abused by the age of 18. For this study sexual abuse is defined as unwanted sexual contact involving force, threats, or a large age difference between the child and the other person. (3)
  • In Florida, 20.4% of men, or 1,437,000 men, have been victimized by sexual violence other than rape. (4)
  • More than one-quarter (27.8%)  of male victims who have experience at least one completed rape experienced the first rape when they were 10 years of age or younger. (4)
  • 35% of men who experienced rape, stalking or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short or long term impacts related to the violence experienced in this relationship such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms and injury. (4)
  • According to the US Department of Justice, in 2010 8% of rapes or sexual assaults involved a male victim. (5)

Effects of sexual violence on men

Male survivors of sexual violence may experience a wide variety of effects of the abuse, including:

  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Strong, negative emotions and difficulty managing them
  • Relationship problems with friends, coworkers and significant others
  • Sexual issues, including fear of sexual intimacy, difficulties performing sexually and sudden feelings of shame or guilt
  • Concern about their own sexual identity.
  • Withdrawal from interpersonal contact and a sense of isolation
  • Engaging in high risk behaviors, or drug or alcohol abuse
  • Stress-induced reactions such as problems sleeping, being easily startled, or being unable to relax
  • Confusion about their own sense of masculinity

Help and Resources for Men

Men and boys can heal from sexual violence, regain control over their emotions and their lives and enjoy meaningful relationships with friends and loved ones. Below are resources that can guide male survivors and people who care about them in their path to healing.

Florida Council Against Sexual Violence: the state coalition of rape crisis centers’ site lists rape crisis services in each Florida county where men and boys can get help. fcasv.org

MaleSurvivor: provides resources and support for men who were sexually victimized as children, adolescents, or adults. MaleSurvivor.org

Safe4athletes: an organization with a mission to advocate for athlete welfare where every athlete is provided a safe and positive environment free of sexual abuse, bullying and harassment safe. safe4athletes.org

1in6.org: offers a wealth of information and resources on its website, including an online helpline and a lending library, for men who have experienced unwanted or abusive childhood sexual experiences and those who care about them. 1in6.org

References:

  1. Myths and Facts. 1in6. Retrieved May 18, 2012, from http://1in6.org/family-and-friends/myths.

  2. Kulley, J. (2000). For Men Only: For Male Survivors of Sexual Assault. The Counseling & Mental Health Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved May 18, 2012, from http://cmhc.utexas.edu/booklets/maleassault/menassault.html

  3. Dube, S.R., Anda, R.F., Whitfield, C.L., et al. (2005). Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 430–438. 

  4. Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  5. Truman, J. (2011) Criminal Victimization, 2010.  Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin. Washington D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved May 18, 2012 from http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=2224


The low Incidence of False Reporting of Rape

What is false reporting?

According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a false report is an allegation of rape that evidence proves did not occur:

“The determination that a report of sexual assault is false can be made only if the evidence establishes that no crime was committed or attempted. This determination can be made only after a thorough investigation. This should not be confused with an investigation that fails to prove a sexual assault occurred. In that case the investigation would be labeled unsubstantiated. The determination that a report is false must be supported by evidence that the assault did not happen.” (IACP, 2005b, pp.12-13; italics in original)

Prevalence of false reporting

A comprehensive analysis of the research studies on false allegations of sexual assault conducted with adequate methodology indicates that the prevalence of false reporting is between 2% and 10%.

What are not indicators of a false report?

Societal beliefs about “real rape” sometimes cause responders to questions victims’ credibility if factors are present that go against how we think “real” victims would act. The following factors should not be assumed to contribute to the likelihood of false reporting:

  • Delayed report by days, weeks or even years
  • Lack of physical injury or DNA evidence
  • No weapon was used
  • Victim is young, homeless or has a mental illness
  • Victim used drugs or alcohol at the time of the attack
  • Victim knows the perpetrator
  • Victim was believed to be working in prostitution at the time of the assault
  • Victim was engaged in other “risky” behavior at the time of the assault
  • Lack of cooperation by the victim

In reality, the above factors are actually typical of sexual assault and the response to it by victims.

What if part of the report is false?

Sometimes investigators may find that some of the information victims provide is exaggerated, omitted, inconsistent with other statements or untrue.  There are a variety of reasons why this may be the case, but unless the investigation proves that no crime was committed or attempted, it still cannot be deemed a false report.

Reasons victims may exaggerate omit or alter the account of the assault:

  • The victim may omit what they consider embarrassing details such as oral or anal penetration.
  • The victim’s memories may be disorganized and inconsistent due to psychological trauma of the assault or memories may be impaired from drug or alcohol use.
  • The victim may omit details such as drug or alcohol use or illegal behavior if they think they will be blamed for the assault.
  • The victim may alter their accounts or leave out information because of their immigration status and fear of authorities or reprisal by the perpetrator.
  • The victim may exaggerate details of a rape to make it sound more “believable” to responders, such as saying there was weapon when there wasn’t or saying there was no prior sexual relationship when there was.

How to overcome challenges:

There are a number of techniques investigators and prosecutors can use to get the most accurate account from victims, avoid inconsistencies and gain victim cooperation.

  • Minimize the number of interviews with victims to avoid differing accounts. When possible, use the same law enforcement and prosecutorial personnel throughout the case and make sure follow up interviews are to gather new information rather than review previous information.
  • Develop a trusting  rapport with the victim that makes them feel safe to divulge unflattering information or even their own illegal activities related to the assault.
  • Corroborate the details of the victim’s account of events, highlighting the accuracy of other facts of the case.

What to do in the case of a false report:

While the incidence is low, investigators may encounter cases at some point where the crime has been fabricated, and no assault was attempted or committed. These false reports are frustrating to responders and can influence how they and the public will view future victims.

Prosecutors and investigators should only act upon the suspicion of a false report if these concerns are very serious and are based on the evidence uncovered in the investigation. Wrongly accusing a victim of a false report can have devastating consequences.

It is recommended that the tone of any challenge be supportive and based on the information provided by the victim.

In some cases, a false report is a cry for help by someone with grave emotional or personal issues, and it is important to connect them with appropriate mental health or social services.

There are legitimate reasons to prosecute someone for a false report.  However, such a prosecution will likely be remembered by future victims who fear they won’t be believed and by future jurors who use it as justification for their beliefs that all rape reports are false.

References:

  1. IACP. (2005). Investigating sexual assaults: Concepts and issues paper. Alexandria, VA: Author.

  2. Lisak, D., Gardinier, L., Nicksa, S. & Cote, A. (2010). False allegations of sexual assault: An analysis of ten years of reported cases. Violence Against Women, 16(12), 1318-1334.

  3. Lonsway, K., Archambault, J. & Lisak, D. (2009). False reports: Moving beyond the issue to successfully investigate and prosecute non-stranger sexual assault. The Voice, 3(1), 1-11.


Links to Statistic Source Web Sites:

Bureau of Justice Statistics: Crime and Victims Statistics

Census Bureau

Census 2000 Data for the State of Florida

FBI Uniform Crime Reports

FedStats - gateway to statistics from over 100 U.S. Federal agencies

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Sex Offences for Florida

RAINN Stats