Sexual Abuse – 2023 Data

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may have been sexually abused or has questions around the topic:

What is Sexual Abuse? Definitions & Meanings
Who Commits Sexual Abuse & Why?
What are Signs & Symptoms of Sexual Abuse?
Handling & Dealing with Sexual Abuse
How to Heal and Recover from Sexual Abuse
What Impact Does Sexual Abuse Have on Victims, Families & Friends?
How to Report Sexual Abuse (and Who to Report it to)
How is Sexual Abuse Proven in Court?
Punishment & Sentencing for Sexual Abuse
How can Sexual Abuse be Prevented?
Sexual Abuse Data & Statistics
Sexual Abuse Helplines, Support & Further Reading


Unfortunately, sexual abuse is not always reported or detected, most victims are too scared or embarrassed to come forward. The low rates of conviction for this awful crime can also add to the hesitancy of victims to report the abuse. In this guide, we will look at the data and statistics on sexual abuse and why so many cases are unreported. Please note that even with the latest figures reported in data and statistics, the true extent of sexual abuse will always be unknown due to the high number of cases that are not reported.

How many adults are sexually abused?

According to statistic reports in England and Wales, 20% of women (1 in 5) and 4% of men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men experience rape or sexual assault in England and Wales every year which is around 11 sexual offences every hour.

Estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales in the year ending March 2022 showed that 2.7% of adults aged 16-59 years experienced sexual assault (including attempted offences) in the previous year.

How many children are sexually abused?

The NCPCC published a child sexual abuse statistics briefing in March 2021. Research with 2,275 young people aged 11-17 about their experience of sexual abuse suggested around 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused.

According to the latest statistics provided by the charity Rape Crisis, 1 in 6 children has been sexually abused.

What percentage of sexual abusers are male/female?

Although the exact figures are not available, research suggests most perpetrators of sexual abuse are male.

What percentage of sexual abuse victims are male/female?

The charity ‘Rape Crisis’ has reported 1 in 4 women being raped or sexually assaulted as an adult. The overall statistics in England and Wales found 85,000 women experience rape, attempted rape or sexual assault every year.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) in 2017 found that 4% of men which is 631,000 male victims have experienced some form of sexual assault since the age of 16. Approximately 12,000 men (aged 16-59) are raped in the UK every year. The charity Rape Crises reported 1 in 20 men have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult.

How many cases of sexual abuse involve someone close to the victim committing the abuse?

Sadly, most sexual abuse cases involve someone who is known and close to the victim. Only 10% of perpetrators are strangers, and 90% are often someone the victim knew.

How many cases of sexual abuse go unreported?

Unfortunately, a number of sexual abuse cases go unreported, 40% of adults who are raped will not report it. Unreported childhood cases are much higher, 72% of adults who experienced sexual abuse as a child do not tell anyone at the time of the abuse.

There are many reasons why sexual abuse cases will go unreported, some of which include the following for the victims;

  1. Feelings of shame
  2. Embarrassment
  3. Denial
  4. Stereotypes
  5. Fearful of potential repercussions from the perpetrator
  6. Feeling that no one will believe them

How many reported cases of sexual abuse result in a conviction and/or victim compensation?

Only 10-15% of sexual offences are reported to the police. In 2018 less than 1 in 65 reports of rape (1.5) resulted in a charge or summons. However, according to CSEW statistics for the year ending March 2022, sexual offences recorded by the police were at the highest level recorded within a 12-month period (194, 683 offences). According to the charity Rape Crisis, the highest-ever number of rapes recorded by the police in the year ending March 2022 was 70,330, however, only 2,223 charges were bought in these cases.

The average custodial sentence for sexual offences in the UK is between 5 and 10 years, whether this is long enough for those found guilty of such horrendous crimes is questionable. Many people are of the view that the minimum and maximum sentencing for sexual offenders should be increased to reflect the seriousness of the crime and that victims deserve better justice.

You will need to have made a formal complaint to the police if you are seeking compensation, we understand this process can be difficult but remember claiming compensation is your right. No amount of money could ever compensate for the trauma you have been through, but it can certainly help towards trying to build a new life and getting the help that you need.


We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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