Statistics of Sexual Abuse

1. NZ research suggests that up to 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be the subject to an unwanted sexual experience by the age of 16. The majority of those incidences would be considered serious with over 70% involving genital contact. 

1. Up to 1 in 5 women will experience a sexual assault as an adult.

2. Most sexual assaults take place in private settings – typically the victim’s or the offender’s home (two-thirds to three quarters).

2. Sexual violence and alcohol and other drug use are strongly correlated, with alcohol commonly used to assist perpetration of assault.

2. Maori women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-Maori women with recorded rates of sexual victimisation double the average for women overall. Sexual violence is one of the leading causes of trauma amongst Maori females.

2. Approximately 90 percent of sexual offences go unreported, of the offences that are reported, approximately only eight percent result in a perpetrator being convicted. 

3. Overwhelmingly, sexual assault is perpetrated by men against women. It is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality. 

3. Only nine percent of sexual offences against men and women were reported to the Police. 

3. Sexual violence is more likely to be committed by a person known to the victim, with over one-third of sexual offences committed by current partners, a quarter a friend, one in 10 by a boyfriend or girlfriend and one in 20 incidents a work colleague.

4. 86% of adult survivors rated counselling and specialist sexual violence services as important or very important to their recovery. 

5. Sexual abusers come from all backgrounds, racial groups, income groups and can be from any sexual orientation.

6. The New Zealand Treasury estimated that in 2003/4 sexual violence cost our country $1.2 billion or $72,130 per incident. 

7. At least 50 percent of girls and women who are sexually assaulted are likely to be sexually re-victimised. 



  1. Briere, J.N. & Elliott, D.M. 2003. Prevalence and psychological sequelae of self-reported childhood physical abuse and sexual abuse in a general population sample of men and women. Child Abuse & Neglect, 27: 1205-1222.
  2. Summary of findings from two samples in the  Ministry of Women’s Affairs research (ibid.): the Pathways sample based on interviews with 58 survivors and surveys of 17 survivors, and the Attrition sample of all sexual offences recorded by the New Zealand Police between 1 July 2005 and 31 December 2007.   
  3. 12. Report of the Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence. 2009.  Ministry of Justice
  4. Kingi, V. & Jordan, J. 2009. Responding to sexual violence: Pathways to recovery. Wellington: Ministry of Women’s Affairs: 161.
  5. Dixon, H. 2010. Characteristics of men referred to sex offender treatment programmes (Unpublished working paper). Wellstop.
  6. Roper, T. & Thompson, A. 2006. Estimating the costs of crime in New Zealand 2003/2004 (Working Paper). Wellington: The Treasury.
  7. Ministry of Women’s Affairs. 2012. Lightening does strike twice: preventing sexual revictimisation