Office on Women's Health

Sexual Violence

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual Violence is any criminal and non-criminal violation of a person, where this violation is of a sexual nature. Sexual violence can occur between any persons including acquaintances, strangers, family members or in dating relationships and is often part of domestic violence situations. Sexual violence occurs between individuals but is perpetuated at the system level by a set of community norms, behaviors and attitudes that allow for the sexual degradation, exploitation and objectification of individuals.

Why is Sexual Violence an issue?

Sexual Violence affects women of all ages, races, ethnicities, abilities, and sexual orientations. More than 60% of rapes are not reported to the authorities because of a lack of obvious physical harm, uncertainty as to the definition of rape, fear of the assailant, feelings that the crime is a private and personal matter, and fear of social stigmas that blame or doubt the victim.

  • 1 in 6 females and 1 in 33 males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
  • About 84% of survivors know their perpetrators.
  • 65% of survivors are sexually assaulted before the age of 18.
  • 15% of sexual assaults are reported to the police.
  • The FBI estimates that only about 2 percent of reports of sexual assault to law enforcement are false reports.
  • Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual people are at the same risk for sexual assault as people who identify as heterosexual.
  • Transgendered persons are at a greater risk for sexual victimization.
  • 25% of inmates report being sexually assaulted while in prison.
  • People with developmental disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.


What is the OWH doing about Sexual Violence?

The OWH provided representation on the Governor’s Advisory Council Against Sexual Violence (GACASV). The Council was established by Executive Order No. 40 (2002).  This multidisciplinary Council is comprised of governmental and non-governmental members from across the state.  They are charged with reviewing and recommending policies, procedures, protocols, legislation, trainings and standards related to sexual violence and recommending solutions in the prevention of sexual violence.

Primary Prevention Education and EMPOWER

As part of GACASV, the OWH participates in the Primary Prevention Education (PPE) subcommittee, which has developed a statewide, primary prevention plan against sexual violence.  The plan is available at:

  • EMPOWER provides New Jersey cutting edge technical assistance to design and implement a primary prevention program against sexual violence.
  • In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) selected New Jersey’s Division on Women as one of the six pilot sites for the EMPOWER (Enhancing and Making Programs and Outcomes Work to End Rape) project to build the capacity of states to do primary prevention work--preventing the perpetration of sexual violence before it occurs.
technical assistance to design and implement a primary prevention program against sexual violence.


Department of Health

P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
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Last Modified: Monday, 28-Jul-14 09:42:17