Rape and Other Sexual Assault

Document Type

Book Section

Publication Date


Publication Title

Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment


Wiley Blackwell

Publisher Location

Thousand Oaks, CA


Rape and sexual assault are crimes measured by official law enforcement and victim survey data, with variation in prevalence and correlates across different definitions and collection methods. While rape and sexual assault appear to be less common than other violent offenses such as robbery and aggravated assault, disagreement across victimization surveys has led to disparate estimates, from one‐third lifetime victimization to one‐eighth, and from annual victimization of 1.3 per 1,000 population to 6.9 per 1,000 population. Some assessments of rape and sexual assault of women in college have likewise been controversial. Victimization surveys indicate that slightly less than one‐tenth of victims are male, that victims are on average younger (mostly teens) than victims of other violent crimes, and that most victimizations involve offenders known to the victim – acquaintances and intimate partners. Theoretical scholarly discourse about rape and sexual assault has been largely comprised of debates between feminist and sociobiological perspectives.



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