As noted in the definition of “dating violence,” violence between young intimates is not limited to physical violence. Sexual assault is also a significant risk in intimate relationships. The stereotype that strangers pose the greatest risk of sexual assault is pervasive. College campuses generally offer escorts to students traversing the campus in the evening or late at night. On the other hand, colleges offer no escorts for students when they go out on dates—and yet more sexual assaults occur during social interactions, parties, and other social events, than on dark nights on campuses.

According to data collected as part of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), 6.1 per 1,000 college females (ages 18-24) reported they had experienced

Rape or sexual assault victimizations against females ages 18-24 reported to police, by post-secondary enrollment status, 1995-2013

figure 4.1 Rape or sexual assault victimizations against females ages 18-24 reported to police, by post-secondary enrollment status, 1995-2013.

Notes: a Includes victims ages 18-24 enrolled part time or full time in post-secondary institution (i.e. college or university, trade school, or vocational school).

b Includes female victims ages 18 to 24 not enrolled in post-secondary institution.

Source: Sinozich, S., & Langton, L. (2014, Dec.). Rape and Sexual Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995-2013. Special Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Studies.

a rape or sexual assault between 1995 and 2013. Eighty percent of the victims stated that they knew the offender (Sinozich & Langdon, 2014). The rate for women 18-24 who were not attending college was slightly higher—7.6 per 1,000. Only one out of ten assailants used a weapon (see Figure 4.1).

Sexual assault on campus is no longer hidden and is much discussed of late— because of victims are now pressing colleges and universities to develop and enforce polices punishing sexual assaults. Still, 80% of college students and two-thirds of non-college students did not report their victimization to the police.


High school students with lower grades, who engage in delinquent acts, who are sexually active, and who come from risky social settings and communities are more likely to engage in dating violence (CDC, 2006; Oudekerk, Balchman-Demner, & Mulford, 2014). Kaukinen’s (2014) review of the research on dating violence among college students points to a number of important risk factors, including exposure to and experience with violence in one’s family of origin; negative emotional states such as anger, anxiety, and depression; drug and alcohol use and abuse; and sexual risk-taking.

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