EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE                                                                                             BJS/NIJ

January 26, 2001 at 4:30 p.m.                                                                                        202/307-0703







WASHINGTON, D.C . – About 3 percent of college women experience a completed and/or attempted rape during a typical college year, according to a new report released today by the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The report, The Sexual Victimization of College Women, offers a comprehensive look into the prevalence and nature of sexual assault occurring at American colleges.

The data show that about 1.7 percent of female college students were victims of a completed rape, and about 1.1 percent were victims of attempted rape.  About 1.7 percent of the college women reported being coerced to have sex.

The study also estimated that about 13 percent of college women had been stalked since the beginning of the school year.

Of the incidents of sexual victimization, the vast majority occurred after 6 p.m. in living quarters.  For completed rapes, nearly 60 percent that took place on campus occurred in the victim’s residence, 31 percent occurred in other living quarters on campus and 10 percent occurred at a fraternity.  Most off‑campus victimizations, especially rapes, also occurred in residences.  However, particularly for sexual contacts and threatened victimizations, incidents also took place in bars, dance clubs, nightclubs and work settings. 

Most of the sexually assaulted women knew the person who victimized them.  For completed and attempted rapes, nearly 90 percent of the victims knew the offender, who was usually a classmate, friend, ex‑boyfriend or acquaintance.

Most victims of completed or attempted rape reported that they did not receive additional injuries during the victimization. About one in five rape and attempted rape incidents resulted in additional injury, most often "bruises, black eyes, cuts, swelling or chipped teeth."

The study found that for about half of the incidents categorized as completed rapes, the women did not consider the incident to be a rape.  The study asked a number of questions to determine what happened during incidents reported by survey respondents and whether force or coercion was used.  Completed rape was defined as "unwanted completed penetration by force or threat of force."

The study also included a comparison component sponsored by BJS that used methodology similar to that of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).  The two components used different questioning methodologies to screen for incidents of rape.  In addition, the NCVS based component, presented as a crime survey, focused on incidents victims perceived to be crimes; a more limited set of events than covered by the main component of the study.  The main component, called the  National College Women Sexual Victimization (NCWSV) study, was presented as a survey of “unwanted sexual experiences,” and obtained information on incidents that victims may not have thought to be criminal. The estimates of completed and attempted rape from the main component, asking about unwanted sexual  experiences were 11 and 6 times greater than those of the companion study, which focused on criminal victimizations.

The differences between the two components of the study highlight how different

 methodologies can influence estimates of rape.  The two studies were conducted at the same time and employed similar samples and interviewing methodologies.  The key differences were in the context under which the surveys were conducted, the wording of the questions used to screen for victimizations, and the wording used to determine the type of incident.

Both components were conducted between February and May 1997, and were asked of women who were enrolled in college at the start of the 1996 fall semester.  Both component results were based on telephone surveys of a randomly selected national samples of women who attended 2‑ or 4‑ year college or university during fall 1996.  The sample sizes were 4,445 for the main component and 4,432 for the companion component. 

Single copies of Sexual Victimization of College Women (NCJ 182369), written by Bonnie S. Fisher, Francis T. Cullen and Michael G. Turner, may be obtained by calling NCJRS at 1‑800/851‑3420. The report may be downloaded from the National Institute of Justice Website at:  http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij.  Click on the “Highlights” section on the NIJ homepage to obtain full copies of the report.

Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at:  http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov


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