Sexual Violence

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Sexual violence happens in our communities every day. Statistics show:

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted by age 18 (Finkelhor, et al., 1990)
  • In Cambria and Somerset Counties during fiscal year 2019-2020, Victim Services served 1223 people:
    • 1006 were victims of sexual assault and their significant others
    • 217 were victims of other violent crimes and their significant others
  • VS provided 3178 hours of service and 317 accompaniments to police, medical, and justice proceedings
  • Every 68 seconds another American is sexually assaulted. (

What is Sexual Violence?

According to the CDC, sexual violence is sexual activity when consent is not obtained or not freely given. It has profound impact on lifelong health, opportunity, and well-being.  Sexual violence impacts every community and affects people of all genders, sexual orientations, and ages.

Who perpetrates sexual violence?

The perpetrator of sexual violence is usually someone the victim knows (a friend, current or former intimate partner, coworker, neighbor, family member, etc.).  In cases of child sexual abuse, this is the case approximately 91% of the time.  (Finkelhor & Shattuck, 2012).

Forms of sexual violence:

Sexual violence can occur in many forms and can happen in person, online, or through technology, such as posting or sharing sexual pictures of someone without their consent, etc.  According to PCAR, sexual violence is a term meant to include any type of unwanted sexual contact. This can include words and actions of a sexual nature including, but not limited to

  • rape
  • sexual assault
  • incest
  • child sexual assault
  • date and acquaintance rape
  • grabbing or groping
  • sexting without permission
  • ritual abuse
  • commerical sexual exploitation (i.e. prostitution)
  • sexual harassment
  • sexual or anti-lgbtq bullying
  • exposure and voyeurism
  • forced participation in the production of pornography

How common is sexual violence?

More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes.

Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 38 men have experienced completed or attempted rape and 1 in 14 men was made to penetrate someone (completed or attempted) during his lifetime. (Smith, et al., 2018)

1 in 3 female rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old and 1 in 8 reported that it occurred before age 10. Nearly 1 in 4 male rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old and about 1 in 4 reported that it occurred before age 10.

Reporting sexual violence

Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means more than 2 out of 3 go unreported. (

According to PCAR, It is estimated that less than one in 12 children will tell someone that they are being sexually abused.

The average age at the time of reporting child sexual abuse was 52 (Spröber, et al., 2014).

Although it’s often talked about, false reports of sexual assaults occur rarely.  According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) a review of research found that the prevalence of false reporting is between 2-8% of cases, which is similar to that of other crimes.

The cost of sexual violence

Estimates put the cost of rape at $122,461 per victim, including medical costs, lost productivity, criminal justice activities, and other costs (Peterson, DeGue, Florence, Lokey, 2017).

The total lifetime cost of child sexual abuse in the United States is $9.3 billion.  11

Letourneau, Brown, Fang, Hassan, & Mercy, 2018).

Helpful Links:  –  Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape – National Sexual Violence Resource Center – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network


Finkelhor, D., & Shattuck, A. (2012). Characteristics of crimes against juveniles. Durham, NH: Crimes Against Children Research Center. Retrieved from of%20Crimes%20against%20Juveniles_5-2-12.pdf

Letourneau, E. J., Brown, D. S., Fang, X., Hassan, A., & Mercy, J. A. (2018). The economic burden of child sexual abuse in the United States. Child Abuse and Neglect, 79, 413-422.

Smith SG, Zhang X, Basile KC, Merrick, MT, Wang J, Kresnow M, Chen J. (2018). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2015 Data Brief—Updated Release. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Spröber, N., Schneider, T., Rassenhofer, M. et al. Child sexual abuse in religiously affiliated and secular institutions: a retrospective descriptive analysis of data provided by victims in a government-sponsored reappraisal program in Germany. BMC Public Health 14, 282 (2014).

Peterson C, DeGue S, Florence C, Lokey C. (2017). Lifetime Economic Burden of Rape in the United States. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 52(6): 691-701.