Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

Human Rights Defenders

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1



Rape Victims are Class of Persons often defined by Gender

“I discovered long ago that among the most effective advocates
I have seen are the survivors, those who have channeled
their pain and anger into activism to achieve lasting reforms.”
Attorney General, Janet Reno,
August 15, 1996

Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. (1, 2) One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. (3) Only one in 50 women who have been raped reports the crime to the police. (4)

Although both women and men may be victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, women are the victims of the vast majority of these crimes. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 85% of violent victimizations by intimate partners between 1993 and 1998 were perpetrated against women. Women are between 13 and 14 times more likely than men to be raped or sexually assaulted; for instance, in 1994, 93% of sexual assaults were  perpetrated against women. Four of five stalking victims are women. Data on male victimization do not show that males experience comparable victimizations and injury levels, do not account for women who act in self defense, and do not measure financial control, intimidation, and isolation used by perpetrators of domestic violence against women.

The gender issue is foremost in sexual assault issues, and is usually background in general victimization. The unique cultural bias and shaming that accompanies rape cases needs its own focused opposition. The history of rape law is a history of the law used as a tool to protect rapists, rather than the raped. The anti-rape movement confronts, as it must, the cultural myths that uniquely exist in the context of rape. Manipulation of these myths, along with humiliation and victim blaming, are typical informal defenses to rape charges. Blaming victims in rape  cases may be an effective means to secure acquittal.  .In contrast, blaming a robbery victim is typically ineffective because robbery is unaccompanied by the same pernicious cultural myths. The nature of stigma and abuse in rape cases is profound and unique, a criminal process that mistreats and excludes other types of victims also inflicts secondary victimization.

In 2002, there were 247,730 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault. (5) One out of every six American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape). A total of 17.7 million women have been victims of these crimes. (6) In 2002, one in every eight rape victims were male. (7) 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims knew their attacker; 34.2% were family members and 58.7% acquaintances. Only seven percent of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim. (8)

One of the most startling aspects of sex crimes is how many go unreported. The most common reasons given by victims for not reporting these crimes are the belief that it is a private or personal matter and that they fear reprisal from the assailant. In 2001, only 39% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials — about one in every three. (9) [1999 NCVS] Approximately 66% of rape victims know their assailant. (10) Approximately 48% of victims are raped by a friend or acquaintance; 30% by a stranger; 16% by an intimate; 2% by another relative; and in 4% of cases the relationship is unknown. (11) About four out of ten sexual assaults take place at the victim‘s own home. More than half of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within one mile of their home or at their home. (12) In one study, 98% of males who raped boys reported that they were heterosexual. (13)

Rapists are more likely to be serial criminals than serial rapists. In one study, 46% of rapists who were released from prison were rearrested within 3 years of their release for another crime -- 18.6% for a violent offense, 14.8% for a property offense, 11.2% for a drug offense and 20.5% for a public-order offense. (14) 61% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Those rapists, of course, never serve a day in prison. (15)
So, even in the 39% of attacks that are reported to police, there is only a 16.3% chance the rapist will end up in prison. Factoring in unreported rapes, about 6% of rapists—1 out of 16— will ever spend a day in jail. 15 out of 16 will walk free. (16)

Rapist are predators. Just like animal predators, they seek out the weakest and/or most vulnerable prey. Rape is not about sex, it is an act of brutal violence. Rape causes pain and suffering in the victim that m ay last a lifetime. It eats away at the soul and destroys the quality of life. FBI estimates indicate that only 10 percent of rapes are reported. Of those reported, in less than 25 percent are the rapists arrested. Of those arrested, only about 3 percent are charged. Of those charged, no more than 35 percent are convicted. In other words, most rapists are not caught. (17) According to The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault false rape reports only happen 2% of the time. That's a 98% chance that no matter how strange it sounds to you the rape isn't being fabricated. Delayed reports also are common, particularly in acquaintance rapes. The majority of mental health professionals surveyed (84 %) agreed that contact with social service providers re-traumatizes rape v ictims. (18)
Some reasons why women do not report rape seem are the fear of:

1) Ridicule
2) Personal questions asked by police investigators
3) Humiliating medical examinations
4) Publicity
5) Testifying in court
6) Fear that sexual past will come out in court
7) The victim has the burden to prove that the attack was forced, against her will, and that she resisted the attack.
8) Justice system's inability to put the criminal away
9) Retalia tion from assailant or his friends

These are real concerns that must be overcome before rapists may be brought to justice. Rape statistics show that Rapists are on an ascending scale of violence with each assault. More than 50% of all rapes occur in the home of the victim. More than 93% of the time, the assailant and the victim are of the same race.

The mass media represents males in superior social and physical positions and women as helpless and vulnerable. For example, in films, women are often depicted not only as vulnerable victims, but as victims who, once raped, degraded and dehumanized, come to accept this treatment and grow to love their attackers.

Myths have a manifest purpose of legitimizing aberrant behavior, such as rape. Studies have shown that women as well as men believe in many rape myths and are aroused by rape depictions. For example, some men believe that women will respond to sexual force even if they initially refuse sexual advances.

“All sexual assault is an act of aggression, regardless of the gender or age of the victim or the assailant. Neither sexual desire nor sexual deprivation is the primary motivating force behind sexual assault. It is not about sexual gratification, but rather a sexual aggressor using somebody else as a means of expressing their own power and control”
Nicholas Groth, a clinical psychologist

Another myth is that women can resist rape if they really want to. First of all, men have been raised differently than women. They have been trained to be physical and are usually stronger and faster than women. Likewise, women have been traditionally raised to be passive, weaker, and submissive to men. Such socialization enhances the possibility of a successful rape. In addition, the rapist chooses the time and place for the crime, usually when the woman is in a vulnerable situation.

Many people believe the myth that rapes are committed by strangers; however, in fact, prior relationships are usually present in rape cases. About half of rapes of adult women were committed by men who know their victims and data show this may be as high as 80%.

Another myth is that women falsely cry rape. No doubt this has occurred, but it is rare. Data shows that is more likely that women will not report a rape that occurred. Statistics show that only 16% sought medical treatment and 40% of rape victims were examined more than 24 hours after the rape. Of these rape victims only 2/3rds told doctor they had been raped. (19)

Delayed reporting to hospitals and/or police is much more likely in nonstranger rape than stranger rape20 In the ―Victim Reporting Study‖ - Beth Israel Hospital Rape Crisis Intervention Program in which 1000 rape victims were interviewed. The statistics showed that in Stranger rape 90% of rape victims reported in less than 24 hours. In nonstranger rape 90% reported after 1 week or more. So reporting by victims of nonstranger rape is more delayed than reporting by victims of stranger rape. ( 21)
All women want to be raped is a myth that has been romanticized in the media. Romance novels after start with a sexual attack where the women "melts into passionate acceptance." While it is true that some women have rape fantasies, these fantasies usually do not center on force or pain but on being "swept off one's feet" by a handsome stranger into a sexual liaison that one would not ordinarily entertain.

It can't happen to me is delusional belief that many women hold. Accepting the myth that rape victims are always young and attractive, leads many women to believe they are unlikely victims since they are not desirable. Remember rape is not a crime of sex; it is a crime of violence. Sexual attractiveness is not a trait considered by rapists when they are stalking victims.

Becoming the victim of a crime leaves victims – and those around them – in a state where they are not thinking as clearly as they usually do, and they may feel overwhelmed. There is often financial loss and physical injury connected with victimization, but the most devastating part for many victims is the emotional pain caused by crime. It is difficult for many victims to understand that someone else wanted to hurt them. The experience of becoming a crime victim can shatter a person‘s life in a variety of ways.

Becoming the victim of a crime is a major life stress. The victim may feel very uncomfortable (in a state of "crisis"). It may be difficult for her to easily restore a sense of balance in life. She may not be able to think clearly about what has happened, and her feelings about the crime may be very strong. It can take a long time and a lot of work to get back to the point where she feels comfortable again. Often rape victims are not be as trusting of other people, as before or may be afraid to do the things she normally does, or go to the places she normally goes. Victims may experience shock, disbelief, and/or denial. Many victims will find it difficult to believe (or know) that they became the victim of a crime, or they may pretend that it did not happen at all. This may last for only a few moments or it may go on for months — even years. Victims often assume a more "childlike" state, and may need to be taken care of by others, at least for a little while. In drug-facilitated rapes, the additional deprivation of cognition during the assault, combined with anterograde amnesia afterwards, subjects the victim to an extreme form of powerlessness which is profoundly traumatic. (22)

Crisis intervention and supportive counseling help victims move toward a new balance more effectively, but it is not an easy process. It is very important that the rape victim feel supported emotionally during this period.

A sexual assault can involve physical injuries or damage to the victim‘s body. Some of these injuries are visible and some are not. It may not be possible to see the physical injuries caused by a sexual assault or injuries that are covered by clothing or an injury that happens inside the brain. Do not assume that a person is not injured simply because the injury is not visible. As a result of the crime, some victims may experience health-related problems such as headaches, stomach aches, etc.  Even when the physical wounds caused by crime have healed, the victim may continue to experience pain or discomfort for a period of time.A person who already has a disability may find that the disability becomes more severe after the crime.


1 RAINN calculation based on 2002 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice

2 For more statistics and links to all primary sources, see RAINN‘s Statistics Archive. For information and resources on sexual assault, rape and drug-facilitated sexual assault, more information and statistics, visit the U.S. Department of Justice‘s Bureau of Justice Statistics.

3 National Crime Victims Rights Resource Guide 2005 2005/pdf/NCVRW2005resourceguide.pdf

4 National Crime Victims Rights Resource Guide 2005 2005/pdf/NCVRW2005resourceguide.pdf -

5 RAINN calculation based on 2002 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice

6 Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998

7 RAINN calculation based on 2002 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice

8 Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 2000

9 1999 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.

10 2000 NCVS

11 2000 NCVS

12 Sex Offenses and Offenders. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, February 1997:

13 Sexual Abuse of Boys, Journal of the American Medical Association, December 2, 1998

14 2002 Recidivism and Release Statistics 1994 For more statistics and links to all primary sources, see RAINN‘s Statistics Archive

15 1999 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.

16 Probability statistics compiled by NCPA from US Department of Justice statistics. See

17 "Promoting. US Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. An Analysis of data on Rape and Sexual Assault. Sex Offenses and Offenders‖

18 Secondary Victimization of Rape Victims: Insights from Mental Health Professionals Who Treat Survivors of Violence by Rebecca Campbell, and Sheela Raja, University of Illinois at Chicago Published: Violence and Victims, V. 14 (3), 1999

19 National Judicial Education Program Sexual Violence: The Judge‘s Role in Stranger and NonStranger Sexual Assault Cases (April 2002, Second Edition) - Prepared by the WA Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

20 National Judicial Education Program Sexual Violence: The Judge‘s Role in Stranger and NonStranger Sexual Assault Cases (April 2002, Second Edition) - Prepared by the WA Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

21 Excerpts from National Judicial Education Program Sexual Violence: The Judge‘s Role in Stranger and NonStranger Sexual Assault Cases (April 2002, Second Edition) - Prepared by the WA Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

22 Drug-Facilitated Rape: Looking for. the Missing Pieces. by Nora Fitzgerald and K. Jack Riley



“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

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Theodore Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910