It’s a sad fact, but sex crimes occur across America every day. Millions of men and women across the country are affected by sexual violence, with the statistics showing an assault occurs every 73 seconds in some corners of the United States.

On average, there are 463,634 rape and sexual assault victims reported in the US every year, with many others going unreported. That’s a shocking statistic, so let’s break it down in more detail to get an understanding of the scale of the problem.


Young People Are at the Highest Risk of Experiencing Sexual Violence

Most victims of sexual assault are under 30, with the statistics breaking these victims down into five age groups.

  • 15% of sex crime victims are between 12 to 17.
  • 54% of sex crime victims are between 18 to 34.
  • 28% of sex crime victims are between 35 to 64.
  • 3% are aged 65 and over.

The 12 to 34 age group is at the highest risk years for sexual assault and rape. Individuals aged 65 and older are 92% less likely to experience a rape or sexual assault than 12 to 24-year-olds and 83% less likely than individuals in the 25 to 49 category.


Girls and Women Experience High Rates of Sexual Violence

It’s shocking to learn that 1 in every 6 women in America is the victim of a rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, with 14.8% experiencing rape and 2.8% an attempted rape. While it’s outdated, an estimated 17.7 million women were victims of attempted or completed rapes in 1998, with these figures dramatically higher today.

  • Young girls and women are at the highest risk of experiencing an attempted or completed rape.
  • 82% of all minor rape victims are female, and 90% of adult rape victims are female.
  • Women aged 16 to 19 are 4X more likely to be victims of sexual assault, rape, or attempted rape than the general population.

Women college students aged 18 to 24 are 3X more likely to experience a sex crime than women in general. Shockingly, women in the same age group that aren’t enrolled in college are 4X more likely to experience a sex crime than women in general.


Sexual Violence also Affects Boys and Men

Millions of American men have been rape victims.

Male college students aged 18 to 24 are 5X more likely to experience sexual violence than non-students in the same age group.

2.78 million men in the United States were victims of attempted or completed rape as of 1998. Around 3% of American men (1 in 33) experienced an attempted or completed rape during their lifetime. And 1 in 10 rape victims are male.


Transgender Students Are at Higher Risk for Sexual Violence

21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary) college students experienced a sexual assault compared to 4% of non-TGQN males and 18% of non-TGQN females.


Victims of Sexual Violence May Experience Long-Term Effects

  • 94% of female rape victims experience PTSD symptoms during the 2 weeks following a rape.
  • 30% of women who experience a rape report PTSD symptoms 9 months after enduring the rape.
  • 33% of women who experience rape think about committing suicide.
  • 13% of women who experience rape commit suicide.

Approximately 70% of sexual assault or rape victims experience severe to moderate emotional distress, which is a larger percentage than any other violent crime. People who experience a sexual assault are more likely to use drugs than those that don’t.


Victims of Sexual Violence May Experience Problems with Relationships

38% of victims who experience sexual violence develop problems with their performance at work or school.

37% of victims experience problems with their friends and family relationships. These issues include a lack of trust, not feeling as close to them as before the event, and getting into frequent arguments.

84% of sex crime survivors victimized by their intimate partner experience emotional or professional issues, including severe to moderate distress or increased problems at school or work.

79% of sex crime survivors victimized by family members, close friends, or acquaintances experience emotional or professional issues, including severe to moderate distress and increased problems at school or work.

67% of sex crime survivors victimized by strangers experience emotional or professional issues, including severe to moderate distress or increased problems at school or work.


Sex Crime Victims are at Risk of Unwanted Pregnancy and STIs

Studies indicate that the chance of falling pregnant from unprotected intercourse is between

Studies suggest that the possibility of getting pregnant from one-time, unprotected intercourse is between 3.1-5%. It depends on several factors, including the victim’s age and the time of the month in which the rape occurs.

There are approximately 250,000 annual sexual assaults and rapes against women of childbearing age. As a result, the number of children born in the US each year from these encounters varies between 7,750 to 12,500.


Native Americans Are at the Highest Risk of Experiencing Sex Crimes

On average, 5,900 female Native Americans aged 12 and older experience sexual assaults per year. They are also twice as likely to experience a sex crime than any other ethnic group in the United States.

41% of sexual assaults against Native Americans are committed by strangers, 34% by acquaintances, and 25% by intimate family members.


Prisoners Experience Sex Crimes

  • Each year, approximately 80,600 inmates experience sexual violence while in jail or prison.
  • 60% of all sexual crimes against inmates are perpetrated by staff members.
  • Over 50% of the sexual contact between inmates and staff members is non-consensual.


Sexual Crimes in the Military Usually Goes Unreported

In 2018, approximately 6,053 members of the military reported a sexual assault during their service.

The Department of Defense estimates approximately 20,500 service members experience sexual assaults annually as of 2018.

The DoD estimates 0.7% of active duty men and 6.2% of active duty women experienced a sexual assault as of 2018.


Why Are Sex Crime Victims Requested to take a Polygraph?

If law enforcement services, like the police, ask you to take a polygraph exam regarding your experiencing a sex crime, it doesn’t mean they don’t believe you endured the ordeal. In many cases, undergoing a polygraph can provide evidence useful to prosecuting the person that committed the sex crime against you.

Polygraph results may also validate and verify your statement, making it easier for law enforcement officials to arrest the suspect and for prosecutors to obtain a conviction against the attacker. However, it’s important to note that it is not a mandatory requirement, and victims of sex crimes do not have to consent to a polygraph exam if they don’t want to.

Please don’t assume that being nervous about taking the polygraph exam will affect the outcome of its results. Everyone who undergoes a polygraph exam is anxious; the examiner knows this.

The polygraph device is capable of determining the difference between a nervous response and deception (lying). If you’re using prescribed medication, such as anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, tell the examiner before they start the test.


What are the Rights of Sex Crime Victims?

Victims of sex crimes are not obligated to take a polygraph test and have the right to refuse the exam. The examiner must obtain your consent to take the test in writing before starting the polygraph exam.

The investigating officer of the crime must submit a written, signed statement showing that they notified you the investigation will continue if you refuse to take the polygraph exam. The officer must also describe the investigative strategies they intend to use to catch the suspect and those already used in the case.

Officers are prohibited from threatening victims of sex crimes with a statement saying they will not continue to investigate the offense unless the victim takes a polygraph test.

If you take the polygraph exam and feel distressed, you can ask the examiner to stop the test at any stage. Victims also have the right to have their lawyer attend their polygraph session. The attorney can view the exam through a 2-way mirror or via closed-circuit television.

Victims of sex crimes have the same Miranda rights as all American citizens, and you have the right to remain silent until you have a lawyer present to observe the session. Sex crime victims also have the right to file a complaint if they feel the examiner or investigating officer violates their civil rights.

Sex crime victims can write these complaints to the Secretary of the Cabinet for Justice & Public Safety.


What Questions Does the Examiner Ask During the Lie Detector Test?

The examiner may only ask you questions relating to the sex crime under investigation. They may not ask you questions about your personal life that don’t relate to the incident. However, the examiner will ask generic background questions to help them establish a baseline response for purposes of test accuracy. For instance, they may ask you where you live and your age.

These questions are used for comparison purposes in the test. However, the examiner may not ask you questions about your sexual history. The examiner will revise the questions they intend to ask in the exam with you before starting the polygraph session.

There are no surprise or trick questions in the session. However, the examiner may repeat certain questions if they don’t get a verifiable response the first time they ask them. The examiner may not ask you any questions that they didn’t discuss with you in the pre-exam interview.


How Long Does the Polygraph Exam Last?

The total time for the setup, exam, and post-exam process is around 3 hours, but the exam itself will last approximately 90 minutes. Before starting the lie detector test, the examiner spends around an hour with you discussing the test requirements and answering any questions you have about the polygraph device and the exam process.

The examiner conducts a debriefing session after completing the polygraph exam. During this session, they’ll review your answers and give you a chance to explain any issues they have with your replies to their questions.

You can tell the examiner you want to take a break from the polygraph exam at any time.


Other Rules Involved in Regulating the Polygraphing of Sex Crime Victims

The police cannot ask a sex crime victim to take a polygraph to prove they experienced a sex crime. The investigating officer appointed to the case must use other strategies to identify the suspect involved in the alleged crime before asking the victim to take a polygraph test.

Victims of sex crimes cannot be polygraphed if the examiner determines they are mentally or physically unfit to take the test. If the investigating officer doesn’t comply with the document requirements proving they’ll investigate the crime, even if the victim refuses the test, the examiner must decline to conduct the polygraph.

The examiner must videotape and audio record the polygraph exam session, and the victim cannot be tested in the same facility as the suspect or at the same time. The victim must not undergo any interrogation before, during, or after the polygraph exam.


Do Sex Offenders Have to Take a Polygraph Exam?

Unlike sex crime victims, suspects involved in these crimes must undergo a polygraph examination in Federal districts to ensure they remain compliant with the conditions of their parole, supervised release, or treatment.

An examiner administers these polygraph exams periodically every six months. The average exam lasts 90 to 120 minutes. Before starting the exam, the examiner must explain the examination technique they intend to use in the test.

The pre-test interview is necessary for the examiner to use this information to develop the questions delivered in the polygraph exam. The examiner must review these questions with the sex offender before starting the test.

The polygraph exam is thorough, and the test results are accurate, with the American Polygraph Association (ASPA) claiming the polygraph test has an accuracy of 85%. Polygraph software developers claim the test is up to 97% accurate, and it’s next to impossible to “beat” the polygraph.

The polygraph exam on sex offenders aims to expose violations of their parole, supervised release, or treatment program. It’s also a highly effective deterrent to prevent non-compliance.

Polygraph results are not the sole evidence to revoke the sex offender’s suspension. However, the results may allow for an increase in the level of suspension, changes to treatment plans, or as grounds to open a separate investigation.