Sexual Violence on College Campuses

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Scope of the Issue

-          About 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted before the end of their college career. (Fisher, Cullen, and Turner, 2000)

-          About 90% of survivors on a college campus know the person who assaulted them. (Fisher et al.)

The American College Health Association (ACHA) carried out The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) in Fall 2011. Their survey of 8,960 male students and 18,308 female students found that:

-          3% of male students and 7% of female students reported experiencing sexual touching without their consent.

-          1% of male students and 3% of female students reported experiencing attempted sexual penetration without their consent.

-          1% of male students and 2% of female students reported experiencing sexual penetration without their consent.

In the same semester, 484 male students and 1089 female students completed the assessment at Emory. The survey found that:

-          2.1% of male students and 7.5% of female students reported experiencing sexual touching without their consent.

-          0.6% of male students and 3.5% of female students reported experiencing attempted sexual penetration without their consent.

-          0.2% of male students and 1.9% of female students reported experiencing sexual penetration without their consent.

The findings from the Emory assessments also show an increase in the number of students reporting nonconsensual sexual touching, attempted penetration, and penetration between Fall 2008 and Fall 2011.

Dating Violence on College Campuses

This section presents an overview of the data relating to dating and relationship violence in the general population and among college students.

Scope of the Issue

The 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey carried out by the Center for Disease Control found that:

-          More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

-          Most survivors of intimate partner violence (69% of female survivors and 53% of male survivors) experienced some form of intimate partner violence before 25 years of age.

-          More than half of female stalking survivors and more than one third of male stalking survivors reported being stalked before the age of 25. Two thirds of female survivors reported that their stalker was an intimate partner. 

-          81% of women and 35% of men who experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short-term or long-term consequences for their health, including post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and injury.

-          43.7% of women of non-Hispanic Black race/ethnicity, 46% of women of American Indian or Alaska Native race/ethnicity, and 53.8% of multiracial non-Hispanic women reported experiencing rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

-          45.3% of American Indian or Alaska Native men, 38.6% of Black men, and 39.3% of multiracial men reported experiencing rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

-          44% percent of lesbian women, 61% of bisexual women, and 35% of

heterosexual women experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

-          26% percent of gay men, 37% of bisexual men, and 29% of heterosexual men experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.



Recent studies also show that intimate partner violence is common among college students. The following statistics are taken from the 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll, commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. and conducted by Knowledge Networks, Inc. The study surveyed 508 college students (330 female-identified and 178 male-identified) between the ages of 18 and 29.

-          29% of college women and 17% of college men said they had been in an abusive relationship at some point in their lives.

-          43% of college women and 28% of college men reported experiencing violent and abusive behaviors including physical, sexual, technological, verbal, or controlling abuse from someone they were in a dating relationship with.

-          31% of college women and 22% of college men report being the victim of controlling behavior in a dating relationship. The most common controlling behaviors were:

  • trying to prevent a dating partner from spending time with family and friends (16%)
  • telling a dating partner how to dress (16%)
  • buying a dating partner anything he or she wanted in order to control him or her (7%)
  • threatening to spread rumors about a dating partner if he or she did not do what the abuser wanted (7%)

-          22% of college women and 11% of college men reported experiencing verbal abuse in a dating relationship.

-          52% of college women reported knowing a friend who has experienced violent and abusive dating behaviors.

Each one of us is a part of one or more larger communities – whether willingly or not – and it is important to recognize and acknowledge the impact of an assault as it relates to the communities that a survivor belongs to. Understanding the complexity of this experience and these relationships gives the survivor the space to create their own path to recovery.

Adapted to Emory University with permission by a team of Respect Program staff and interns from the University of Michigan’s Striving for Justice document.