Domestic violence or intimate partner violence affects the lives of millions of people. Physical violence is only one part of domestic violence. It affects individuals both physically and emotionally. Gender, race, age, socio-economic status or religion has no effect on whether a person will be a victim of sexual or domestic violence.
At least 15 percent of women have been physically or sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Between 15-20 percent of female college students report being the victim of forced sexual intercourse. (Only 5-15 percent of college men admit to forcing intercourse with their partner). Somewhere between 4 percent and 8 percent of women were assaulted by an intimate partner or ex-partner in the past year.
Sexual assault refers to a variety of behavior, including rape, incest, child sexual assault, date rape, statutory rape, sexual harassment, and exposure. The perpetrator can be a total stranger, an intimate partner, a family member or an acquaintance.
Understanding sexual and domestic violence is often difficult despite the vast amount of information available because of many myths that exist in our culture. These myths surrounding rape and sexual violence prevent a true understanding of the realities of rape and sexual assault and may increase vulnerability instead of safety. Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter how the victim was dressed, if the victim was drinking or using drugs, out at night alone, homosexual, on a date, etc.
The absence of injuries often suggests to others that the victim failed to resist and, therefore, must have consented. Often, rapists only need the threat of violence to control their victims. They also sometimes use "date rape" drugs to incapacitate their victims.