Ever since the sexual assault investigations began at the U of M, I’ve been struggling to discover how abnormal, if at all, Missoula is compared to the rest of the country. As part of my research, I contacted the National Sexual Violence Research Center hoping to find both the rate of sexual assaults in Missoula compared to other cities nationwide and the rate of reported sexual assaults compared to arrests.  I haven’t reached any strong conclusions yet, but I thought you might want to know what I have found. Below are some of the statistics that the center dug up for me.



  • Studies estimate that 20 – 25% of college women are victims of forced sex during their time in college and at least 15% of college men (Fisher).
  • College women are more at risk for rape and other forms of sexual assault than women the same age but not in college (Sampson).
  • Most perpetrators are known to the victim (Fisher).
  • A 2002 study revealed that 63.3% of men at one university who self-reported acts qualifying as rape or attempted rape, admitted to committing repeat rapes (Lisak and Miller).
  • Ninety percent or more of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault (Fisher).
  • Fear of hostile treatment or disbelief by police prevents almost 25% of college rape victims from reporting (Fisher)
  • According to a March 2006 study “An Examination of Sexual Violence Against College Women,” 27% of college women have had some unwanted sexual contact.

A lot of the research comparing the problem of sexual assaults on a state-to-state basis relies on a 2010 study called the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS).


In December 2011, the CDC released The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey(NISVS). View it here: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/

Here’s the state-by-state info.

You can view the rape stats here: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/state_tables_71a.html and the background here:

For stats of sexual violence other than rape, look here: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/state_tables_72.html

Please remember that the estimates reflect the proportion of people in a given state with a history of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence victimization and prevalence estimates are based on a sample and not a census of the U.S. population. The fact NISVS is NOT based on census information, makes using this study to calculate the rate of sexual assault in Missoula compared to other cities very difficult.

For Montana the estimated number of victims: At least 178,000 (Lifetime Prevalence of Sexual Violence Other Than Rape: 108,000 + Lifetime Prevalence of Rape: 70,000)

  • ·         According to the NISVS, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives
  • ·         According to the NISVS, 51.1% of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance
  • ·         According to the NISVS, 52.4% of male victims report being raped by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger
  • ·         According to NISVS Summary report (page 25), nearly 80 percent of female rape victims were sexually assaulted before their 25th birthday

Truly sad and stunning stuff is going on in the world. I’m not sure the numbers will help to relieve any suffering, but they certainly give a perspective as to how bad the problem is.