Earlier this week, I referenced a CDC study on rape statistics as part of my post about tiresome mansplainers and harassment. It was pointed out that this particular study was potentially problematic in the narrow way it defined the rape of men. Fair enough — and I agree that from my reading and experience, the actual number of male rape survivors is significantly higher than the CDC found in their study.
So let’s bring in some additional data. Looking through these statistics, please keep in mind that no single study is perfect. Also remember that rape tends to be underreported, due to a combination of factors including shame, fear, lack of support from friends & family, aggressive victim-blaming from law enforcement and the judicial system, confusion over rape myths and the definition of rape, and more.
- “9 of every 10 rape victims in 2003 were female.” (Source)
- A U.S. Department of Justice study in 2005 estimated 15,130 male victims of rape/sexual assault, and 176,540 female victims. (Source)
- “The first and most inclusive set of measures we present are the number and percentage of undergraduate women who reported being a victim of attempted or completed sexual assault of any type before entering college (15.9% ) and since entering college (19.0%).” (Source – study did not examine male victims of rape)
- “1 in 6 women (17 percent) and 1 in 33 men (3 percent) reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives.” (Source)
- “In 1994 victims reported about 1 rape/sexual assault victimization of a female victim for every 270 females in the general population; for males, the rate was substantially lower, with about 1 rape/sexual assault of a male victim for every 5,000 male residents age 12 or older. Overall, an estimated 91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault were female. Nearly 99% of the offenders they described in single-victim incidents were male.” (Source)
- Another U. S. Department of Justice study found that 95.4% of single-offender rapes/sexual assaults were committed by men. (2.9% were committed by women, and in 1.8% of cases, the gender of the rapist was unknown.) When multiple offenders were involved, then the offenders were all male in 89.6% of cases. (Source)
- “In a single year, more than 300,000 women and almost 93,000 men are estimated to have been raped [in the U.S.]” (Source)
“[E]stimates for the percentage of false reports begin to converge around 2-8%.” (Source)
- The U.S. Department of Justice has consistently found that only about 1 in 4 rapes are committed by strangers. (Source)
I could go on all day, but I’ve got a doctor appointment to get to. My takeaway from everything I’ve read over the years, as well as my personal experiences and interactions, is that:
- No single study is perfect.
- Rape is too damn common.
- Women are far more likely to be raped/sexually assaulted than men.
- Men are also raped and sexually assaulted. This is a real and valid problem too, and male victims are just as deserving of support.
- Men are far more likely to commit rape/sexual assault than women.
- Most rapes/sexual assaults are committed by friends, romantic partners, or family members, not strangers.
And of course, no matter how many studies you cite, no matter how many people share their stories and experiences, there will always be people — often but not exclusively guys, in my experience — who get extremely defensive and refuse to believe it.