Sexual violence is any physical sexual act perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent.  A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence including rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and sexual coercion.

Sexual violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class or profession. Although sexual violence is most frequently perpetrated against a woman by a man, it can and does occur between same sex partners, and also occurs by women abusing men. These less reported instances of sexual violence are being brought forth more and more. No matter who is involved, it is important to understand that sexual violence is not an act of sexual desire, but one of power and control

The statistics can be shocking: 

  • There are about 35.3 incidents and 27.7 victims of rape or attempted rape per 1000 college women each academic year. (Fisher, Cullen & Turner, 2000)

  • 90% of the college women who were victims knew their assailant (Fisher, Cullen & Turner, 2000)

Sex offenders who attack women they know are sometimes tagged with the misnomer, "date rapist." Often, there is the implication that the man and the woman went out on a date, started having sex, and then "somehow things got out of hand." Actually, these sex offenders typically premeditate the sexual assault with great detail and cunning.

These rapists typically manipulate their victims into positions of vulnerability by getting them alone in a room, a car, or in a secluded area. They ply their victims with alcohol and, increasingly, use so-called "date rape drugs" to disable them entirely.

Perhaps the clearest indicator of the premeditation behind these assaults is the fact that they tend to be repeated. Recent research indicates that, just like incarcerated rapists, undetected rapists are repeat offenders who use violence in many domains.

  • 75% of sexual assaults among college students involves alcohol (Crowell & Burgess, 1996)

Alcohol is an extremely common ingredient in sexual assaults, often consumed by both the victim and the perpetrator. Many rapists use alcohol to disinhibit themselves and also to render their victim more vulnerable. Many rapes occur when the victim has been rendered either semi-conscious or entirely unconscious from the effects of alcohol.


Some of the information on this page was adapted from materials by SUNY Binghamton to see more information on perpetrators you can go to their web site