Characteristics of Forcible Rape and Sexual Offenses

James A. Woods, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Samuel Berhanu, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Few issues are of greater concern, both to the public and to law enforcement, than that of rape and sexual assault. It is covered closely by the media. It is a crime of violence of which anyone regardless of age, race, religion, sex, or size, can be a victim. The Uniform Crime Reporting Program has reported summary data on forcible rape for more that 70 years. The summary definition of forcible rape is "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will." One major criticism of the FBI's rape statistics is this definitional exclusion of male rape. With the National Incident-Based Reporting System the definition of rape is "the carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly and/or against that person's will; or not incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity."

The objective of this study is to examine the crime of forcible rape in the U.S. How have the numbers changed over time? Who are the victims-ages, sex, race, life circumstances? Are rapes associated with other crimes? Who are the offenders? What weapons are used? Where do these assaults occur? What are the differences between rapes reported to police and victimization studies?

Data will come from the UCR data collections, both summary and the National Incident-Based Reporting System and from the National Crime Victimization Survey.

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Updated 05/20/2006