(Posted per request)
WASHINGTON, D.C . – About 3 percent of college
women experience a completed and/or attempted rape during a
typical college year, according to a new report released in January of 2001 by
the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The report, The Sexual
Victimization of College Women, offers a comprehensive look
into the prevalence and nature of sexual assault occurring at
The data show that about 1.7 percent of female college
students were victims of a completed rape, and about 1.1
percent were victims of attempted rape. About 1.7 percent of
the college women reported being coerced to have sex.
The study also estimated that about 13 percent of college
women had been stalked since the beginning of the school year.
Of the incidents of sexual victimization, the vast
majority occurred after 6 p.m. in living quarters. For completed
rapes, nearly 60 percent that took place on campus occurred in
the victim’s residence, 31 percent occurred in other living
quarters on campus and 10 percent occurred at a fraternity.
Most off-campus victimizations, especially rapes, also occurred
in residences. However, particularly for sexual contacts and
threatened victimizations, incidents also took place in bars,
dance clubs, nightclubs and work settings.
Most of the sexually assaulted women knew the person
who victimized them. For completed and attempted rapes,
nearly 90 percent of the victims knew the offender, who was
usually a classmate, friend, ex-boyfriend or acquaintance.
Most victims of completed or attempted rape reported
that they did not receive additional injuries during the
victimization. About one in five rape and attempted rape
incidents resulted in additional injury, most often “bruises, black
eyes, cuts, swelling or chipped teeth.”
The study found that for about half of the incidents
categorized as completed rapes, the women did not consider the
incident to be a rape. The study asked a number of questions to
determine what happened during incidents reported by survey
respondents and whether force or coercion was used.
Completed rape was defined as “unwanted completed
penetration by force or threat of force.”
The study also included a comparison component
sponsored by BJS that used methodology similar to that of the
National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The two
components used different questioning methodologies to screen
for incidents of rape. In addition, the NCVS based component,
presented as a crime survey, focused on incidents victims
perceived to be crimes; a more limited set of events than
covered by the main component of the study. The main
component, called the National College Women Sexual
Victimization (NCWSV) study, was presented as a survey of
“unwanted sexual experiences,” and obtained information on
incidents that victims may not have thought to be criminal. The
completed and attempted rape from the main component, asking
about unwanted sexual experiences were 11 and 6 times greater
than those of the companion study, which focused on criminal
The differences between the two components of the
study highlight how different
methodologies can influence estimates of rape. The two studies
were conducted at the same time and employed similar samples
and interviewing methodologies. The key differences were in
the context under which the surveys were conducted, the
wording of the questions used to screen for victimizations, and
the wording used to determine the type of incident.
Both components were conducted between February and
May 1997, and were asked of women who were enrolled in
college at the start of the 1996 fall semester. Both component
results were based on telephone surveys of a randomly selected
national samples of women who attended 2- or 4- year college
or university during fall 1996. The sample sizes were 4,445 for
the main component and 4,432 for the companion component.
Single copies of Sexual Victimization of College
Women (NCJ 182369), written by Bonnie S. Fisher, Francis T.
Cullen and Michael G. Turner, may be obtained by calling
NCJRS at 1-800/851-3420. The report may be downloaded
from the National Institute of Justice Website at:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij. Click on the “Highlights” section
on the NIJ homepage to obtain full copies of the report.
Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained
from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at: