National Data & Statistics
Though one victim is too many, it is important to understand the scope of the issue at hand. Read below to learn more about what Federal research tells us about the issue of sexual violence on college campuses.
Who are the victims?
About 20% of college women and 6% of college men will experience completed or attempted sexual assault during their college career (1). This means with a population of about 26,000 students, about 2,600 women and about 800 men will experience sexual assault while here at OSU. Other research has indicated that at large universities with at least 10,000 female students there may be more than 350 rapes in one year (2).
We know that freshmen and sophomores are at greater risk of experiencing sexual assault (1). We also know that about 16% of high school women experience completed or attempted sexual assault before they get to college (1).
These numbers are unacceptable. Here at OSU, we are working to lower and eliminate those statistics through education and awareness. Research also gives us some insight into how victims may respond to their experience.
We know that a large portion of sexual assault victims, over 50%, do not recognize what happened to them as rape or aren’t sure what happened to them (2).
Further, victims who had experienced previous sexual assault before entering college were more likely to experience sexual assault while in college (1).
Circumstances of assault with college students
Many people only think of rape as a scene from Law and Order SVU in which there is a stranger attacking people in alleys or out of bushes… In reality, sexual assault does not look like that on a college campus. Rather, 9 out of 10 perpetrators are known to the victim (2). Victims could know their attackers from class, as an ex or current boyfriend, someone they met at a party, a family member, or many other ways but it is someone that the victim has trusted.
Especially on a college campus, we know that the majority of sexual assaults involve alcohol or other substances, with almost 90% of victims reporting drinking alcohol before being assaulted (1).
A significantly low portion (3% - 19%) of sexual assaults results in physical injuries to the victim (1, 2). So, most of the time, there isn’t much, if any, obvious physical evidence of being sexually assaulted.
We also know that most sexual assaults occur off-campus at a party, a house, a bar, etc. (1,2). When sexual assaults do occur on campus, we know that they majority take place in a victim’s residence (2).
What happens after someone is assaulted?
It is very clear that only a very small number, from 2% to 13%, report their assault to the police, making it the most underreported crime in America (1, 2). Here are some of the reasons victims stated they did not report anything to law enforcement (2):
- Fear of not being believed
- Fear of retaliation from the perpetrator
- Thinking it was not serious enough to report
- Lack of proof
This also means that very few victims take any action against the attacker or to protect themselves, like getting a protective order or filing a complaint with University officials (1).
While very few victims report their assault to law enforcement, about 65% reported telling a family member or friend about it (1). So, it is important that everyone be prepared and educated in order to help victims when they turn to friends and family.
We know that victims of sexual assault suffer serious psychological consequences. Research has reported that rape victims are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than non-crime victims (1). Further, victims are more likely to suffer academically, experience depression or post-traumatic-stress disorder, or to abuse alcohol or other drugs (3, 4).
Sexual assault also has serious detrimental effects on society, costing about $93 billion per year (1).
With all of this information, it is imperative that everyone decide to do something to change these numbers. It will take each person on the OSU campus to make the decision to become informed and be an active bystander.
You can read more about research regarding sexual violence on college campuses by reviewing previously cited works listed below and can be accessed on Data.gov or by clicking the links.
- Krebs, C. P., Lindquist, C. H., Warner, T. D., Fisher, B. S., & Martin, S. L. (2007). The campus sexual assault (CSA) study final report xiii. U.S. Department of Justice; National Institute of Justice. Available at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/221153.pdf.
- Fisher, B. S., Cullen, F. T., & Turner, M. G. (2000). The sexual victimization of college women. U.S. Department of Justice; National Institute of Justice; Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf.
- Krug, E. G., Dahlberg, L. L., Mercy, J. A. (2002). World report on violence and health. World Health Organization. Available at http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2002/9241545615_eng.pdf.
- Centers for Disease Control (2011). Understanding sexual violence: Fact sheet 2011. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/SV_factsheet_2011-a.pdf.