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Do Sexual Assault Survivors Often Know Their Attacker?

Most Sexual Assault Victims Are Acquainted With Their Attacker

One of the most common misconceptions about sexual assault is that a victim's perpetrator is more likely to be a stranger than someone they know. However, the statistics of reported sexual violence cases paint a different picture. Most sexual assault survivors are acquainted with their attacker. Here are the facts you should know.

Sexual Violence Statistics

According to reported data from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Other concerning statistics show the following:

  • 39% of sexual violence is committed by someone the victim knows.
  • 33% of sexual violence is committed by a former intimate partner (former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend).
  • 19.5% of sexual violence is committed by a stranger.
  • 6% of sexual violence is committed by more than one person, or the survivor cannot remember.
  • 2.5% of sexual violence is committed by a non-spouse relative.

While the above statistics are alarming enough, many sexual abuse and assault cases are underreported, and the numbers may even be higher. Read on to learn why.

Why Are Sexual Assault Survivors Afraid to Speak Out?

RAINN states that only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the authorities. To put this in perspective, it means that more than 2 out of every 3 cases of sexual assaults go unreported. Here are some reasons why survivors keep their sexual assault a secret.

  • Fear of retaliation from their perpetrator
  • Self-blame (fear that they are somehow responsible for the sexual assault)
  • Feelings of shame
  • Fear of victim-blaming
  • Fear they won't be believed
  • Fear of being shunned

How Can Sexual Assault Survivors Can Get Help

Speaking out against your perpetrator is not easy. It can be emotionally taxing and trigger memories that you don't want to relive. Many sexual assault survivors also face a lifetime of psychological challenges, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Flashbacks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Sexual assault survivors may also engage in:

  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Thoughts of suicide

Many survivors find healing in speaking out and holding their perpetrators accountable for their heinous actions. Speaking out can also help you end a false sense of guilt and shame. It can also pave the way for other survivors who are afraid to share their stories and give them the courage to speak out.

Many national organizations and other resources are available to help survivors find their voice and receive support and guidance to help them get through a difficult time. For your convenience, The Zalkin Law Firm, P.C. has curated a list of supporting organizations that you can view here.

Related Article: Supporting Your Loved One Who is a Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor

Moving Forward With Your Life After Sexual Assault

The impact of sexual assault on a survivor's life is devastating. Many survivors are left to deal with a lifetime of emotional and psychological challenges and are often unsure where to turn for help. We understand that keeping the sexual assault you endured a secret is a difficult burden to bear, and speaking out against your perpetrator can be a triggering experience. When you need support, The Zalkin Law Firm, P.C. is here for you. We believe you and are ready to guide you through the process so you can move forward with your life.

Contact us today (800) 477-2989 to learn your rights.