Perpetrators of Sexual Violence: Statistics

Perpetrators of Sexual Violence Often Know the Victim


Circle graph explains that 3 out of 4 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. The number is broken down further by type of acquaintance. 43% are committed by a friend or acquaintance, 27% by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, 7% are by someone the victim cannot remember or by more than one offender, 2% are non-spouse relatives, and 21% are committed by a stranger.

The majority of children and teen victims know the perpetrator. 

  • Of sexual abuse cases reported to law enforcement, 93% of juvenile victims knew the perpetrator:2
    • 59% were acquaintances
    • 34% were family members
    • 7%  were strangers to the victim

Victims of sexual violence who are incarcerated are most likely to be assaulted by jail or prison staff.

  • In jail or prison, 60% of all sexual violence against inmates is perpetrated by the institution’s staff.4

About Perpetrators 


Circle graph explains that half of perpetrators are 30 or older. The statistic is broken down into four separate age demographics. 50% of perpetrators are 30 and older, 25% are 21-29, 9% are 18-20, and 15% are 17 or younger.


5 circle graphs that represent the percentage of perpetrators by race or ethnicity. 57% of perpetrators are white, 27% are black, 8% are of an unknown ethnicity, 6% are other, and 1% are mixed.

Perpetrators of Sexual Violence Often Have Criminal Histories

Perpetrators of rape are often serial criminals.

  • Out of every 1,000 suspected rape perpetrators referred to prosecutors:7
    • 370 have at least one prior felony conviction, including 100 who have 5 or more
    • 520 will be released—either because they posted bail or for other reasons—while awaiting trial
    • 70 of the released perpetrators will be arrested for committing another crime before their case is decided

Bar graph explaining that the majority of released prisoners are rearrested for a new crime within 3 years. 21% within 6 months, 31% within 1 year, 44% within 2 years, 51% within 3 years, 56% within 4 years, and 60% within 5 years.


Infographic explains that more than half of alleged perpetrators have at least one prior conviction. Statistic is broken down by convictions for rape, robbery, and assault and battery per 1000.


Infographic explains that suspects who are released pre-trail often commit new crimes. Statistic broken down by three types of crime (rape, robbery, and assault and battery).

When convicted, perpetrators are spending more time in prison.

  • In 2013, there were 161,000 state inmates incarcerated as punishment for sexual violence crimes—that’s about 12% of all state inmates.9
  • These inmates are staying in prison longer: the median time served for sexual violence convicts has increased 10 months since 2002 (from 38 to 48 months served).9

Perpetrators Use Different Forms of Violence to Commit Sexual Assault

  • In 11% of rape and sexual assault incidents, the perpetrator used a weapon.6
    • 6% Gun
    • 4% Knife
    • 1% Other
  • Personal weapons—such as hands, feet or teeth—are used against victims of sexual violence in about 2 out of 3 cases.9
  • 90% of rapes and sexual assaults are perpetrated by one offender. 10% are perpetrated by two or more.6

View statistics on additional topics


Understanding RAINN’s statistics

Sexual violence is notoriously difficult to measure, and there is no single source of data that provides a complete picture of the crime. On RAINN’s website, we have tried to select the most reliable source of statistics for each topic. The primary data source we use is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which is an annual study conducted by the Justice Department. To conduct NCVS, researchers interview tens of thousands of Americans each year to learn about crimes that they’ve experienced. Based on those interviews, the study provides estimates of the total number of crimes, including those that were not reported to police. While NCVS has a number of limitations (most importantly, children under age 12 are not included), overall, it is the most reliable source of crime statistics in the U.S.

We have also relied on other Justice Department studies, as well as data from the Department of Health and Human Services and other government and academic sources. When assembling these statistics, we have generally retained the wording used by the authors. Statistics are presented for educational purposes only. Each statistic includes a footnote citation for the original source, where you can find information about the methodology and a definition of terms.

Learn more about RAINN's statistics.


  1. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2010-2016 (2017).
  2. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement (2000).
  3. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. Child Maltreatment Survey, 2012 (2013).
  4. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011-2012 (2013). 
  5. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, American Indians and Crime, 1992-2002 (2004).
  6. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010 (2013).
  7. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2009 (2013).
  8. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005-2010 (2014).
  9. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2013 (2014).

The rape kit backlog is currently one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence.

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Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 310 are reported to the police.

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