Sexual violence is inappropriate or unwanted sexual behavior by individuals using force, enticements, or manipulation directed toward a non-consenting person or person who is unable to give informed consent. It is estimated that between 50% and 69% of all sexual violence is never reported, and boys are less likely than girls to disclose sexual victimization. In 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services reported approximately 2004 substantiated cases of sexual violence toward children involving such activities as rape, incest, statutory sexual assault, prostitution, and child pornography. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control’s 2010 Summary Report from The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found 18.3% of the women and 1.4% of the men experienced rape at some point in their lives. 5.6% of the women and 5.3% of the men surveyed experienced other forms of sexual violence including being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact, or non-contact unwanted sexual experiences during the previous 12 months. 13% of the women surveyed and 6% of the men surveyed reported experiencing sexual coercion at some point during their life.
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that, for female rape victims, 51.1% of the perpetrators were intimate partners, 12.5% were family members, 40.8% were acquaintances, and 13.8% were strangers. For male rape victims, 52.4% of the perpetrators were acquaintances and 15.1% were strangers. Male victims who were forced to penetrate someone else reported 44.8% of the perpetrators were intimate partners, 44.7% were acquaintances, and 8.2% were strangers.
The consequences of sexual violence are many and varied. For example, unwanted pregnancies, chronic mental health problems like depression and suicide, chronic substance abuse, long-term problems with intimate relationships, early-onset sexual activity, emergency room and other short-term and long-term medical costs. In addition to the victims, sexual violence has a significant impact upon families and communities within which the victims and perpetrators live.
Effective interventions for victims must focus upon multiple individual, family, and community factors. Effective interventions for perpetrators must not only address individual factors, but also peer and community factors which support sexual violence.