Surprising crime stats that affect women

Aug 31, 2010 at 7:42 a.m. ET

Statistics on crimes against women are horrifying -- especially given the fact that many, such as sexual assault, rape and domestic violence, are never even reported to the police. Here are some surprising crime stats that affect women.

Woman being attacked

Rape often goes unreported

The FBI estimates that only 37 percent of all rapes are reported to the police. US Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26 percent of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials. Take a lesson from Trinka Porrata, a volunteer with Mesa Police Department and 25-year veteran of the LAPD: "Time is crucial when it comes to drug-facilitated sexual assault." If you think "something happened":

  1. Get a urine sample right away; GHB, which is associated with sexual assault cases, leaves the blood in four hours and the urine in 12.
  2. Call the police or a rape crisis center to fill out a report.

The predator is likely someone you know

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, an astounding two-thirds of all rapes are committed by someone the victim knows -- even just a "distant connection" such as a roommate's friend. Results of the study noted that 73 percent of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger, broken down as follows: 

  • 38 percent, friends or acquaintances of the victim
  • 28 percent, intimates
  • 7 percent, relatives

It's more common than you think

Think of your four best girlfriends. Now, consider the fact that one of them may be, have been or will be the victim of domestic violence. Stats show that one in every four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her lifetime. Women ages 20 to 24 are at "greatest risk of nonfatal intinmate partner violence," according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Once again, however, most cases are never reported to the police.

Take Porrata's advice and make a police report, even if you get brushed off at first. If there are enough reports of, say, suspected sexual assault cases that happened at "Joe's Bar," the police will soon investigate what's going on there, and your report could help in someone else's case. So even if you are afraid to do it for yourself, call the police: You could be saving a life.

How to fight back

Rape defense tips for women

Here are a few simple moves and suggestions to escape an attacker who is on top of you.

More ways to protect yourself: