Victims and Offenders


Who Is The Victim?

Rape is a crime that affects people from all backgrounds, but females between the ages of 12–34 are most often the targets of sexual assault. Risk peaks in the late teen years. Girls 16 to 19 years of age are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault (National Crime Victimization Survey, 2000). Male victims comprise about 10% of all victims ( In West Virginia, 1 in 6 adult women and 1 in 21 men will be the victim of an attempted or completed forcible rape in their lifetimes (WV Health Statistics Center, BRFSS, 2008).


According to the 2009 West Virginia State Police Incident-Based Reporting System (WV-IBRS):

Over l,200 sexual offenses were recorded by law enforcement:


  • The average age of the victim was 17 years old.
  • The most frequently reported age was 15.
  • 64.8% of the victims were juveniles.
  • The majority of victims were female (83%).
  • The majority of the victims (93%) and offenders (83%) were white.
  • Over 2/3 of the victims were not related to the offender.


Who Is The Offender?

Despite stereotypes of rapists as strangers in a dark alley, approximately 73% of adult victims and 93% of child victims of sexual assault know their offender. Most offenders are male. Even in sexual assaults where men are the victims, the offender is usually another man (RAINN).


There are no clear characteristics to identify sex offenders. Most sex offenders identify themselves as being heterosexual. They can be of any age, race, economic class, religion or marital status. Approximately 90% of offenders sexually assault someone who is of the same race.


Most sex offenders will continue to commit sexual offenses until they are caught. In cases that involve sexual abuse of children, the offenders are often people the child knows and trusts. Most offenders in child sexual abuse cases are male.


According to the 2009 WV-IBRS:

1,336 offenders were reported to have committed sex offenses:


  • 312 arrests were made.
  • 93% of the offenders were males, while 6% were females.
  • The majority of the offenders were white (85.2%), 11.8% were black, 3% were other or unknown.
  • The most common age of offenders was 20 and the average age was 31.
  • Juveniles accounted for 29.4% of sex offenders for this reporting period.



When Does It Happen?

  • 43% of rapes occur between 6:00pm and midnight.
  • 24% occur between midnight and 6:00am.
  • The other 33% take place between 6:00am and 6:00pm (



Where Does It Happen?

In WV, approximately 70% of the reported sex offenses occurred at a residence or in a home. Other locations included highways, alleys, fields or wooded areas, parking lots, garages, hotels, schools/colleges and others (WV-IBRS, 2009).



Why Does It Happen?

Rape is an act of violence that uses sex as a weapon. It is not an act of romance or lust. Studies of convicted rapists have found that the majority have consenting sexual partners. The motive for rape is the offender's need to feel powerful and in control. Rapists surprise their victims by catching them off-guard, by manipulating or drugging them, and taking advantage of the situation when they have gained the victim's trust.


Sexual violence is never the victim's fault. Just as we do not blame robbery victims for the crime because they own expensive homes or live in exclusive neighborhoods, neither should we blame sexual assault victims for the crime because of what they were wearing or their location. No one would ask to have their life threatened, to be humiliated or degraded. Offenders are accountable for their own behaviors.



What Are Ways Someone Can "Force" You to Have Sex?

Most sexual assaults involve some type of force, but force is not only physical violence (such as hitting or using a weapon). Force has many forms. The following are examples of how someone can force you to have sex without using a weapon or physical violence:


  • Using threats to scare or intimidate you
  • Having sex with you when you're too drunk or high to say "no"
  • Not taking "no" for an answer
  • Threatening to harm a friend or family member
  • Manipulating or tricking you by not telling the truth or leading you on
  • Overpowering you physically
  • Implying that something even worse will happen if you don't give in
  • Using a position of authority and trust (such as a teacher or coach) to get you to agree to do something sexual




Retrieved April, 2011 from Original Sources: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1997 Sex Offenses and Offenders Study. 1997; U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Victimization Study. 2005.


U.S. Department of Justice. 2000 National Crime Victimization Survey, 2000.


West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, Health Statistics Center (2008). Behavioral risk factor surveillance system survey. Charleston, WV: Department of Health and Human Resources. See


West Virginia Incident-Based Reporting System, 2009. Retrieved April, 2011 from:



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