Research indicates that approximately 1 in 5 women1 and 1 in 33 men2 will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime.

In New Jersey, sexual assault is the legal term to define what is most commonly referred to as rape.  Sexual assault is defined as any act of penetration by a penis, hand, finger or other object (vaginal, oral or anal) performed or perpetrated by another without mutual consent or with the inability of one party to consent due to age, mental or physical incapacitation.

Many people also use terms that indicate the relationship between the perpetrator and victim, such as acquaintance, date, stranger or marital rape.   At Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance, we believe this creates a hierarchy in which  acts of sexual violence that occur between people who know each other are not viewed as seriously as those that occur between strangers. In fact, most sexual assaults occur between people who know each other.  The National Institute of Justice indicates that 6 in 10 victims of sexual assault/rape were assaulted by someone known to them including: intimate partner, relative, friend or acquaintance.  On college campuses 85-90% of all victims knew their attacker. Most often, the perpetrator was identified as a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, classmate, friend, acquaintance, or coworker.3

1Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011) The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey(N ISVIS ): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.

3Fisher, Cullen and Turner, 2000