SEX in Real Life

The United States Department of Justice reported 72,240 rapes and 44,650 attempted rapes in 2003 (U. S. Department of Justice-Office of Justice Programs, 2005). This trans­lates into someone being sexually assaulted every 21/) minutes in the United States (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, 2005). Although the incidence of reported rape and attempted rape has decreased over the last few years (see Figure 17.1, where you’ll notice the 1992-2002 average rape incidence was much higher), these numbers are still a cause for concern, especially because rape rates are significantly underreported. There is also a seasonal variation in rape, with the highest percentage occurring during the summer, and the lowest percentage in December (U. S. Department of Justice-Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2004). Although rape prevalence in industrialized nations is estimated to be between 21% and 25%, among nonindustrialized nations the prevalence is between 43% and 90% (Rozee, 2005).

Rape is prevalent on U. S. college campuses. It is estimated that approximately 3% of women experience a completed and/or attempted rape during a typical college year (Fisher et al., 2000). The majority of the offenders are acquaintances of the victim (B. S. Fisher et al., 2005; see Figure 17.2). Verbal sexual coercion is also prevalent on college campuses (DeGue & DiLillo, 2005). Sanday (1990) refers to verbal sexual coercion as “working a yes out.” Some men have been found to use nonphysical methods of coercion to obtain sex­ual contact with an unwilling partner, such as continual arguments, verbal pressure, and/or deceit (DeGue & DiLillo, 2005). Men who use verbal sexual coercion have been found to believe in more rape myths*, report more hostility toward women, and have more sexual partners than men who do not use such coercion (DeGue & DiLillo, 2005).

It is difficult, however, to assess the actual number of rapes because rape has been one of the most underreported crimes in the United States (U. S. Department of Justice-Office of Justice Programs, 2002). However, rape victims are significantly more likely to report a rape today than they were a few years ago (National Crime Victimization Survey, 2004).

*Martha Burt (1980) proposed the concept of rape myths, which she defined as false beliefs about rape, rape victims, and/or rapists. Myths would include “Only bad girls get raped,” “Men can’t be raped,” or “Women ask for rape.”

Rape, injury, and reporting in the United States, 1992-2002

Attempted and completed rapes and sexual assaults, average annual, 1992-2002

366,460

Injured

193,930

Incidence of Rape

Reported to police 73,950

 

Not reported to police 119,340

 

Not injured 172,530

 

Most rapes and sexual assaults are not reported to police, and injuries sustained during a rape are often left untreated.

Source: U. S. Department of Justice-Office of Justice Programs, 2002.

 

Incidence of Rape

120 000 116,99° (total)

In fact, close to half of all rapes are reported today (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 2005).

Why are many women unlikely to report rape? Some do not re­port it because they do not think it was rape, they believe they did something to put themselves at risk, they feel shame and humilia­tion, or fear their report won’t be taken seriously (U. S. Department of Justice-Office of Justice Programs, 2002). Others fear no one will believe them or that no legal action will be taken.

 

140,000

 

77,160
Well knowh

 

100,000

 

80,000

 

Incidence of Rape

ReviewQuestion

Identify what researchers have found about the characteristics of rapists.

 

Incidence of Rape

Rapist Psychopathology: A Disease Model

 

Modern ideas about why rape occurs evolved first from psychiatric theories, which sug­gested that men rape because of mental illness, uncontrollable sexual urges, or alcohol intoxication. This theory of rapist psychopathology suggests that it is either disease or intoxication that forces men to rape and that if they did not have these problems, they would not rape.

According to this theory, the rape rate can be reduced by finding these sick individu­als and rehabilitating them. The theory makes people feel safer because it suggests that only sick individuals rape, not “normal” people. However, research consistently fails to identify any significant distinguishing characteristics of rapists (Fernandez & Marshall,

 

I rapist psychopathology

A theory of rape that identifies psychological issues in a rapist that contribute to rape behavior.