The Sexual Victimization of College Women National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice

This report gives the results of the National College Women Sexual Victimization Survey, conducted by the National Institute of Justice in the spring of 1997, of women who were enrolled in college at the start of the fall 1996 semester. Its objective was to determine the prevalence and nature of sexual victimization of women in college. The report shows that approximately 3 percent of college women during a typical college year experience a completed and/or attempted rape (defined by the report as “penetration by force or the threat of force”). Breaking this figure down: 1.7 percent reported that they had been raped since the beginning of the academic year, 1.1 percent had been victims of attempted rapes, and 1.7 percent had been coerced into having sex. About 13 percent said that they had been stalked.

About half of the women who reported to have been victims of “unwanted completed penetration by threat or force of threat” (the researchers’ definition of rape) did not consider the incident to be rape. For the purpose of comparison, this report includes a component sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics that employs the methodology used in the National Crime Victimization Survey, which focuses on incidents that the victims perceive to be crimes. Since women may be reluctant to define their victimization as rape (due to embarrassment, not understanding the legal definition of rape, or not wanting to define a person they know who victimized them as a rapist), according to the DOJ report, the NCWSV found a lower rate of rapes of college women. 39 pages. Free. National Criminal Justice Reference Service, P.O. Box 6000, Rockville, MD 20849. (800) 851-3420. E-mail:,


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