Research Finds Sexual Victimization Perpetrated by Women More Common than Previously Known

Lara Stemple, Andrew Flores, and Ilan H. Meyer
November 2016

Using U.S. federal agency data, researchers find that female sexual perpetration is more common than previously recognized. The researchers’ findings contradict the common belief that female sexual perpetration is rare.

Sexual victimization by women perpetrators occurs mostly against men and occasionally against women.

The research, published in a paper titled “Sexual Victimization Perpetrated by Women: Federal Data Reveal Surprising Prevalence” was written by Lara Stemple, Director of the UCLA Law School’s Health and Human Rights Law Project, and Williams Institute researchers Andrew Flores and Ilan H. Meyer and was recently published in Aggression and Violent Behavior.

The researchers suggest that inclusive approaches to understanding sexual victimization are essential to ensuring that professionals responding to sexual victimization address it appropriately. Gender and heterosexist stereotypes, such as the idea that only men are sexual perpetrators and that women are incapable of sexual abuse, interfere with complex understandings of sexual victimization.

“Sexual victimization perpetrated by men remains a serious, ongoing threat,” said Lara Stemple. “Without detracting from this, our research aims to reflect the broader reality that women can also be perpetrators.”

This is the first study to assess the role of women as perpetrators of sexual abuse in large federal data sets, providing more reliable estimates about the prevalence of female sexual perpetration than has been published in the literature to date.

Read the Press Release.

Read the Report.