More than 400,000 Texans are sexually assaulted every year, and nearly 91% of the assaults go unreported to police, according to a University of Texas at Austin report.
The study was presented at the 11th Annual Conference on Crimes Against Women in Dallas. The three-day conference concentrates on domestic violence, sex trafficking, sexual assault, and stalking, reports the Dallas Morning News.
Since 2003, the rate of sexual assault has increased, while the number of people reporting the crime to authorities has decreased, said Noël Busch-Armendariz, director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at UT. She also said many victims fear others will question their story and don’t believe that authorities will take them seriously.
"Texas is in crisis," she said. "We have a social disease going on."
Chances of Assault
Though women are two times more likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime than men, the study showed that more men are being assaulted than previously believed. The study found that Texas men have a nearly equal chance of being raped by a woman or a man.
This may be because men feel more comfortable coming forward, said Ted Rutherford, communications program director for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.
Advocates for sexual assault survivors have noticed more willingness to report abuse, but many people still don’t rush to help change societal norms that make rape so prevalent, Rutherford said.
"It’s easy for folks to want to support survivors," he said. "The much harder work is to say, 'Help us change our community so sexual violence doesn’t happen.'"
Though many still fear the idea of "stranger rape," most sexual assaults are committed by someone close to the victim, the report shows.
"It’s not the Charles Manson in the bushes that’s going to be the assailant," said April Mitchell, chief executive officer of the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center. "It’s going to be the Mr. Smith next door, the Mr. Smith we go on a date with."
97% of sexual assaults are committed without a weapon.
25% of sexual assault victims were under the influence of alcohol at the time.
24% of victims said their assailant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the assault.
33% of Texans have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
9% of victims report their assault to law enforcement.