Characteristics of Sexual Assault

Children as Victims:

  • Only 10% to 15% of child sexual abusers ever use physical force or threats to gain compliance from their victims.
  • Most child sexual abusers offend against children who they know and with whom they have established a relationship.
  • Most sex offenders are male; however, recent research indicates that 20% of sex offenses against children may be committed by female offenders.
  • More than any physical injuries the victim sustains, the violation of trust that accompanies most sexual assault has been shown to dramatically increase the level of trauma the victim suffers.  Emotional and psychological harm last much longer than physical wounds.
  • Children rarely make up stories of abuse.
  • Children often do not tell about the abuse for a variety of reasons including shame, embarrassment, wanting to protect the offender, fear of being held responsible or being punished, and fear of losing the offender.
  • The victim's recovery will be enhanced if the child feels believed, supported, and protected and receives counseling following the disclosure that s/he was assaulted.

Rape Victims:

  • Sexual gratification is often not a primary motivation for a rape offender.  Power, control, and anger are more likely to be the primary motivators.
  • Rape victims are never to blame for the assault, regardless of their behavior.  Actions that some may think reflect victims' poor judgments, such as being out late or getting drunk, are never justifications for being sexually abused or assaulted.
  • Rape victims often report being frozen by fear during the assault, causing them to be unable to fight back; other victims may not fight back for fear of angering the rapist and causing him to use more force in the assault.


  • More often than not, sex offenders are not able to stop their offending behavior on their own.
  • Studies suggest that most rape offenders are married or in consenting relationships.
  • Drugs and alcohol do not cause individuals to offend sexually.

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