Rate of Rape has been Falling, but ...
There has been some really good news from the U.S.Dept of Justice. The Bureau of Justice Statistics, which does very good studies of many things, has reported that in the 16 year period from 1995 to 2010, the number of women raped has taken a nosedive, from 5 victims per 1,000 to a whisker over 2 per 1,000. That’s a 58% drop - phenomenal news!. Here are more highlights, not all so rosy.
The report is Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994 - 2010, This work came from interviews, not police reports, so the BJS could capture events that were not reported to the police. This chart came from that report:
Attempted, but not completed, rape attempts bounced around a bit during that period, but stayed fairly constant.
What percentage of rapes and other sexual assaults were reported to the police? That reached a high of 56% in 2003, but declined to 35% in 2010.
Where did sexual assault victimizations happen? For the latest time period, 55% of attacks took place at or near the victim’s home, up from 49% 10 years earlier.
Do victims know their attackers? Yes, as always, about 3 in 4 victims know the offender, often current or former intimate partner, a relative, a family member, a friend or acquaintance. Just over 20% were committed by strangers, a number virtually unchanged over this 15 year period.
Who is most at risk? As always, women who are 34 or younger, have low income and live in a rural area are at the highest risk of sexual violence.
Now for some bad news. The percentage of women injured during a rape or sexual assault increased (a lot) from 26% to 35%.
Now for some more bad news. What about weapons? Since 1999, 11% of attackers had a weapon; this is up (a lot) from 6% originally. The offender was armed with a firearm in 6% of the situations, and a knife in 4%.
So, the good news is that in 1995 about 556,000 women were victims of these heinous crimes, but in 2010, that number fell to about 270,000. That is amazing and truly wonderful news. The bad news is that for the women who were raped or assaulted, they were more likely to be facing an armed attacker, and were more likely to be injured. So, let’s keep doing all the things that are helping to reduce the number of women victimized, and let’s keep educating ourselves and others about how to prevent rape, with strategies from awareness to fighting back.