University of Southern California

Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

Denim-Day_MSMSexual assault is any sexual contact committed without consent or using force or threats.

Rape is a specific category of sexual assault that involves forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration. By law, an intoxicated person is unable to give consent. And silence is not consent. 

Examples of sexual assault include:

  • inappropriate touching
  • vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
  • sexual intercourse or sexual activity that you do not agree to
  • rape
  • attempted rape
  • child molestation
  • indecent exposure
  • voyeurism

Who are the Victums

Both men and women are victims of sexual assault, though the vast majority of victims are women.

United States - (raped during lifetime statistics):

  • 1 out of every 6 women
  • 1 out of every 33 men

Of all rape victims identified in a national survey of 8,000 women and 8,005 men, 85% of the victims were women and 14.2% were men.

Perpetrator Trends

No matter what the biological sex of the victim is, the perpetrator tends to be a man.

In 2006, the National Institute of Justice reported that:

  • 99.6% of female victims and 85.2% of male victims were raped by men
  • Less than 1% of female victims and 18.2% of male victims were raped by women

(Because some victims had been raped by a man and a woman, the total exceeds 100%.)

For more statistics about rape and sexual assault, download the Sexual Victimization of College Women report.

What is Rape

Rape is an act of violence, not sex. It is not the result of sexual desire or sexual deprivation. Perpetrators tend to be motivated by control and anger. Part of their gratification comes from gaining power over the victim or discharging anger. For example, heterosexual men have raped gay men as a form of gay bashing, acts which were based on hate.

All rape, no matter what the biological sex of the victim is, tends to be inspired by feelings of power, discharging anger or eroticizing aggression.