Facts about Power-Based Personal Violence and Sexual Violence

Facts about Power-Based Personal Violence and Sexual Violence

Facts about Power-Based Personal Violence and Sexual Violence


The facts noted on this page are from data gathered from research on sexual violence and national crime statistics. Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes. It is estimated that less than half of the crimes involving sexual violence go unreported. If the assailant is someone the survivor knows it is even less likely to be reported.    

  • Only 16 percent of rape victims will ever report their assault to the police because survivors often may face post assault adversity and hostile reactions from law enforcement, family and friends.    
  • 63 percent of completed rapes, 65 percent of attempted rapes, and, 74 percent of completed and attempted sexual assaults against females were not reported to law enforcement.

Sexual assault is not a crime of passion. Sexual violence is a crime in which assailants seek to assert their power to dominate their victims.

  • One in six women and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime.

Victims can be assaulted against their will. Assailants use many strategies to manipulate and overpower victims including isolation, intimidation, coercion, threats of violence or actual violence.

  • 75 percent of assaults involve drugs and/or alcohol

Survivors may or may not be very emotional and can exhibit a range of emotional and physical responses to assault such as: calmness, hysteria, laughter, anger, shock, depression, shame, guilt, anxiety, fear, confusion, denial, embarrassment, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating, difficulty trusting others, change in appetite, sleep problems, weight loss or gain, headaches, stomach aches or other aches and pains, increased use of alcohol and/or drugs, and loss of interest in normal activities and interactions.

Sexual violence is not an impulsive act. In nearly all cases assailants plan the violence ahead of time looking for targets who appear to be vulnerable. Assailants repeat the offense many times using the same pattern of behavior for victim identification. 

  • Offenders commit an average of 17 assaults before being caught
  • One in ten reported assaults go to prosecution
  • When convicted assailants are listed on the Sex Offenders Registry

Assailants are not generally strangers. An assailant may be someone the victim knows intimately and trusts.

  • 80 percent of all assaults involve acquaintances
  • 84 percent of victims know their offenders

Dressing “sexy” does not mean that a person is asking to be sexually assaulted. Sexual assault victims range from infants to elderly persons and include victims with special needs.

  • One in three women are assaulted before age 18
  • One in five men are assaulted before age 18
  • Over 55 percent of offenders are adolescents
  • 33 percent of high school and college student experience violence in an intimate relationship

Women tell the truth when reporting sexual assault.   

  • Only 4 to 6 percent of sexual assault cases are based on false accusations; a similar percentage to reports of other unsubstantiated cases for many other crimes.

Survivors who fail to seek medical help may be at risk for HIV, sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. Survivors who get medical help after the assault are administered a regimen of drugs\medications to prevent HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.

  • 35 percent of victims get a sexually transmitted infection
  • 8 percent of victims get pregnant

Power-Based Violence
Power-based personal violence is a form of violence that has as a primary motivator the assertion of power, control and/or intimidation in order to harm another. This includes partner violence, sexual assault‚ stalking‚ and other uses of force‚ threat‚ intimidation‚ or harassment of an individual. It also includes the use of alcohol or drugs to commit any of these acts. Men can be victims of power-based personal violence and this kind of violence can happen in gay and lesbian relationships, meaning perpetrator and victim can be of either sex.

Sexual violence: Any sexual contact that lacks consent and/or capacity to give consent.
Partner violence: Physical, sexual, or psychological harm, or threat of harm, by a current or former partner.
Stalking violence: Course of conduct targeted at an individual or group that would cause a reasonable person to feel afraid (following, Facebooking, texting, calling, unwanted letters, gifts, etc.)

Though rates of sexual violence, stalking violence and partner violence are at levels unacceptable to all of us; and though the challenge of effectively intervening and actually reducing violence can seem overwhelming and insurmountable – there are ways to bring attention to this issue and intervene.



Chamberlin, Linda. 2006. Assessment for Lifetime Exposure to Violence as a Pathway to Prevention, National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women. Accessed  December 11, 2010. http://new.vawnet.org/category/Main_Doc.php?docid=301.

Kaukinen, Catherine, and Alfred DeMaris. 2009. “Sexual Assault and Current Mental Health: The Role of Help-Seeking and Police Responses.” Violence Against Women 15: 1331-1357.

Kilpatrick, Dean G., et. al. 2007. Drug-facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, NCJ 219181. 9 Kaukinen, Catherine, and Alfred DeMaris. 2009. “

Rennison, Callie M. 2002. Rape and Sexual Assault: Reporting to Police and Medical Attention, 1992–2000, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 194530.  

Sexual Violence in the United States: Summary of Round Table Proceedings 2010, Center for Violence Against Women, Washington, D.C.

Tjaden, Patricia, and Nancy Thoennes. 2006. Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Rape Victimization: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, NCJ 210346. 2.

Tjaden , Patricia, Nancy Thoennes, (2000),  Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey. November 2000 NCJ 183781

United States Department of Justice: Sexual Assault Services Program

United States Department of Justice: Office on Violence Against Women

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Violence Prevention