American Women’s Self Defense Association

Facts and Statistics

Violence Against Women

The World Health Organization estimates that violence against women is a greater cause of death among women ages 15-44 than cancer, malaria, and traffic accidents combined.  Violence against women and girls is a grave violation of human rights.  Gender-based violence is rooted in a global culture of discrimination which denies women equal rights with men, and which legitimizes the appropriation of women's bodies for individual gratification or political ends. Everyday, all over the world, women face gender-specific persecution including genital mutilation, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, and domestic violence. At least one out of every three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

  • One sexual assault occurs every two minutes.  97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
  • In eight out of ten rape cases, the perpetrator is someone known to the victim.
  • One in four women will be the victim of domestic abuse in her lifetime.
  • Every day in the U.S. more than three women are murdered by a husband or boyfriend.
  • Nearly one in five teenage girls who have been in a relationship report a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if faced with a break-up.
  • One in twelve women will be stalked in her lifetime.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is defined as any sexual act that is attempted or completed by force, threat of force, or coercion against another person's will.


  • 80 - 85% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. 
  • 57% of rapes occur on dates.
  • 43% of college-aged men admitted to using coercive behaviors to have sex, including ignoring a woman's protest, using physical aggression, and forcing intercourse.  Only 15% acknowledged that they had committed acquaintance rape.


  • The majority of stranger rapists tend to target their victims from afar, such as seeing her in a parking lot or walking in the neighborhood.
  • Stranger rapists are more likely than acquaintance rapists to utilize a weapon.


  • Gang rape involves three or more assailants.  Typically there is a leader and co-offenders.
  • The amount of brutality and aggression increases in relation to the number of active participants.
  • Gang rape is most often committed by fraternity men and athletes.
  • Approximately 10% of rapes and sexual assaults are committed by multiple assailants.


  • Approximately 10% of all rape victims are men.
  • Rapists who rape men are heterosexual in 98% of the cases.  (Remember, rape is a crime about power and control, not sex).
  • In cases of male rape, a weapon is used more often, and the associated violence results in more serious physical injuries.


  • 10 - 14% of all married women have been raped by their husbands.
  • Women who did not finish high school reported four times more incidence of marital rape than women who received their diplomas.
  • In the United States, marital rape did not become a crime in all 50 states until 1994.


  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually victimized before the age of 18.
  • 1 out of every 5 rape victims is under the age of 12.
  • For 60% of "sexually active" girls under the age of 14, their only sexual experience had been a rape.
  • Childhood sexual abuse is highly associated with future revictimization.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is an entire pattern of behaviors engaged in by one partner in a relationship to establish and maintain power and control over the other person.  Physical violence is only one component of a larger picture.

  • One in four women will experience domestic abuse her lifetime.
  • More than 60% of incidents happen in the home.
  • 1 in 3 female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner
  • The vast majority of women who are murdered by their partners are murdered either after they left or while they were in the process of leaving.
  • More than 3 million children per year witness domestic violence in their homes.  Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to have health problems, including getting sick more often, frequent headaches or stomachaches, insomnia, and being more tired and lethargic.


Stalking is a criminal activity consisting of the repeated following and harassing of another person. Stalking is a distinctive form of criminal activity composed of a series of actions that taken individually might constitute legal behavior.For example, sending flowers, writing love notes, and waiting for someone outside her place of work are actions that, on their own, are not criminal. When these actions are coupled with an intent to instill fear or injury, however, they may constitute a pattern of behavior that is illegal. Though anti-stalking laws are gender neutral, most stalkers are men and most victims are women.

Stalking first attracted widespread public concern when a young actress named Rebecca Shaeffer, who was living in California, was shot to death by an obsessed fan who had stalked her for two years. The case drew extensive media coverage and revealed how widespread a problem stalking was to both celebrity and non celebrity victims. Until the enactment of anti-stalking laws, police had little power to arrest someone who behaved in a threatening but legal way. Even when the suspect had followed his victim, sent her hate mail, or behaved in a threatening manner, the police were without legal recourse. Law enforcement could not take action until the suspect acted on his threats and assaulted or injured the victim.