Since our founding, the Alliance has upheld a commitment to promoting research about our sector and expanding the range of studies conducted to validate approaches in sexual violence prevention and response.

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Sexual Violence Prevalence
Sexual Violence Prevention
Criminal Legal System Response to Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence Prevalence

National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)

The NISVS, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measures lifetime and past 12-month prevalence of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking through telephone surveys using a public health behavioral framework.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2016/2017 Report on Sexual Violence (released 2022)

National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

The NCVS, implemented through the U.S. Department of Justice, surveys a nationally representative sample of U.S. households regarding annual incidents of crime victimization – including sexual violence-related offenses. This is a key source of annual data on nonfatal crimes reported and not reported to police.

Bulletin: Criminal Victimization, 2021

National Crime Victimization Survey Collection includes a broad range of bulletins, reports and sub-sets of information gleaned from NCVS data 1972-2021.

National Crime Victimization Survey Data Dashboard offers an analysis tool allowing users to examine NCVS data on victimization by select victim, household, and incident characteristics.

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Community Health Survey (CSH)

Though New York City does not currently benefit from a regular, citywide sexual violence prevalence study, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) conducts an annual telephone survey regarding the health of New Yorkers, including neighborhood, borough, and citywide estimates on a range of chronic diseases and behavioral risk factors. A matrix of which topics have been included in the survey each year since 2002 can be found here. Sexual violence-related questions have been included in the CSH in 2008 and 2019.

DOHMH’s Community Health Survey Public Use Data page provides access to CSH datasets for each year the survey has been conducted.


Rape survivors’ experiences with the legal and medical systems: do rape victim advocates make a difference? (Author: Rebecca Campbell; published in Violence Against Women, 2006)

This study examines whether rape survivors who had the assistance of rape victim advocates had more positive experiences with the legal and medical systems compared to those who did not work with advocates. Eighty-one survivors were interviewed in two urban hospitals about what services they received from legal and medical system personnel and how they were treated during these interactions. Survivors who had the assistance of an advocate were significantly more likely to have police reports taken and were less likely to be treated negatively by police officers. These women also reported less distress after their contact with the legal system. Similarly, survivors who worked with an advocate during their emergency department care received more medical services, including emergency contraception and sexually transmitted disease prophylaxis, reported significantly fewer negative interpersonal interactions with medical system personnel, and reported less distress from their medical contact experiences.

Sexual Violence Prevention

Feasibility and Acceptability of Engaging Significant Adults in Youth Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention Work (Authors: Victoria Banyard, Gena C Jefferson, Anna Segura, Susan G Forman, Mary Haviland, Sarah McMahon, Abigail R DeSilva, Victoria Frye, and Saswati Sarkar; published in Violence Against Women, 2022)

NOTE: article full-text must be requested from the authors

[Assessment of the Alliance’s Project DOT sexual violence programming with youth.] Relationship and sexual violence (RSV) disproportionately affect youth in immigrant and other marginalized communities yet few prevention initiatives are truly grounded in their experiences. The current study represents a pilot implementation evaluation of youth-led workshops to engage significant adults (parents, grandparents, aunts, adult siblings, community leaders) as RSV prevention partners in diverse communities in a large urban area. The current mixed methods evaluation examined the perceptions of 66 adults and six youth leaders of four, day-long adult training workshops. Results showed high feasibility and acceptability and an important role for significant adults in enhancing RSV prevention.

Rethinking Dating and SEXUAL Violence Prevention for Youth During the Pandemic: Examining Program Feasibility and Acceptability (Authors: Anna Segura, Michelle Henkhaus, Victoria Banyard, Lena M. Obara and Gena C. Jefferson; published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2023)

NOTE: article full-text must be requested from the authors

[Assessment of the Alliance’s Project DOT sexual violence programming with youth.] Sexual and dating violence (SDV) is a social and health but preventable public issue. Most evidence-based prevention programs have been evaluated using an in-person delivery mechanism. Project Dream, Own and Tell (DOT) is a 13- to 18-week SDV prevention program targeting youth from traditionally underserved communities in New York City that shifted from in-person to online delivery in response to social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of the current study was to understand how youth perceive learning SDV prevention in an online environment (acceptability and feasibility of the online DOT program). A mixed methods triangulation design was used including responses to Ecological Momentary Assessments (n = 25), a brief post survey with Likert-scale items (n = 18), and semi-structured interviews with 12 participants. The sample comprised Latinx/Hispanic, Asian American, Arab American, and African American youth between the ages of 15 and 21 from urban communities. Youth indicated both strengths and challenges of the online format. Strengths included ease of fitting the program into their schedules, avoiding long commutes, and the potential to create a safe online space for participants to engage in sexual violence prevention discussions and thus, feel less exposed. Challenges included internet connectivity issues, difficulties in building trustworthy relationships with other participants when not sharing the same physical space, some characteristics of the program’s activities, and the lack of adequate space from which to attend the program (i.e., shared spaces). Findings suggest that synchronous online prevention program delivery is a feasible and acceptable strategy for engaging adolescents in relationship violence prevention.

Center for Disease Control’s Sexual Violence Prevention Resource for Action

(en español) DETENGAMOS LA VS: Paquete técnico para prevenir la violencia sexual

This technical package includes a select group of strategies based on available evidence to help communities and states sharpen their focus on prevention activities with the greatest potential to reduce sexual violence.

Criminal Legal System Response to Sexual Violence

New York City Police Department (NYPD)

NYPD Citywide Crime Statistics
NYPD publishes weekly updates of statistics on a range of crimes reported to law enforcement in New York City. These include rape, rape that conforms to the FBI’s definition of “Uniform Crime Reporting”, and other sex crimes. Users can generate reports in MS Excel and PDF format by borough and police precinct. Historical data is also available.

A Forward-Looking Plan for the Special Victims Division
Released by in May 2022, the NYPD details changes in its approaches to sexual assault cases that have already been taken, and a plan for continued improvement.

An Investigation of NYPD’s Special Victims Division—Adult Sex Crimes
A 2018 report released by New York City Department of Investigation’s Inspector General for the NYPD focused on the NYPD’s handling of sex crimes.

National Trends

The “Justice Gap” for Sexual Assault Cases: Future Directions for Research and Reform
(Authors: Kimberly A Lonsway and Joanne Archambault; published in Violence Against Women, 2012)

Media coverage often reports “good” news about the criminal justice system’s ability to effectively respond to sexual assault, concluding that the past two decades have seen an increase in rape reporting, prosecution, and conviction. The objective of this article is to examine the validity of such conclusions by critically reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of various data sources and comparing the statistics they produce. These statistics include estimates for sexual assault reporting rates and case outcomes in the criminal justice system. We conclude that such pronouncements are not currently supported by statistical evidence, and we outline some directions for future research and reform efforts to make the “good news” a reality in the United States. This publication includes the “funnel of attrition” graphic (Figure 5, pg. 157).

Why Rape Survivors Participate in the Criminal Justice System
(Authors: Debra Patterson and Rebecca Campbell; published in Journal of Community Psychology, 2010.)

After a rape, survivors may seek help from multiple community organizations including the criminal justice system (CJS). Research has found that few survivors report their assaults to the police and of those who do report, many withdraw their participation during the investigation. However, relatively little is known about the factors that lead survivors to participate in the CJS, and how other community services provided by forensic nurses or victim advocates may also help encourage survivor engagement. In the current study, 20 survivors who reported their victimizations to police within a large Midwest county were interviewed about the factors that influenced their involvement in the CJS. Further, we examined the role that the police, forensic nurses, and victim advocates played in their participation. Using qualitative analyses, our findings suggest that informal supports hold a strong role in the reporting process and formal supports are influential in survivors’ engagement in the investigational process.

Decision Making in Sexual Assault Cases: Replication Research on Sexual Violence Case Attrition in the U.S.
(Authors: Melissa S. Morabito, Linda M. Williams, April Pattavina; published by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) 2019)

Researchers tracked police reports of rape and attempted rape cases and documented the flow of reports on these cases through each stage of processing. Case records were analyzed in detail in order to determine the dynamics of the characteristics of victims, offenders, and cases associated with discontinued processing. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with police, prosecutors, and victim service providers. A cooperative victim was the strongest predictor of arrest across all jurisdictions. Results from medium and large jurisdictions showed that issues related to victim credibility reduced the likelihood of arrest. Race was a significant predictor only for small sites with higher odds of arrest for incidents that involved Black victims. Extra-legal factors were significant in predicting arrest and were often related to issues in victim credibility. Indicators of victim resistance were predictive of arrest for all victim-offender types of relationships.

Opening Doors: Alternative Reporting Options for Sexual Assault Victims
(Authors: Kimberly A. Lonsway, Sergeant Joanne Archambault and Heather Huhtanen; published by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI), 2022)

This module explores strategies to increase reporting options for sexual assault victims. These approaches are grounded in a victim-centered and trauma-informed philosophy, encapsulated in the concepts of one step at a time and opening doors. After defining key concepts, the module examines policy and practice considerations for communities seeking to implement such options. Ultimately, victims who have more ways to access information and support, to receive physical and psychological care, and to preserve the viability of a criminal justice intervention, will have more opportunities to successfully participate in the criminal justice process if and when they choose to do.

This page will be regularly updated with new studies, assessments, and key pieces of research about sexual violence. You can help us curate this list by reaching out to Emily Miles – Executive Directoremail with links to essential sexual violence-related research for possible inclusion.