Oppression and Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence and Oppression go hand in hand. Where you find one, you will find the other.

Oppression by sex, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preferences, disability, age, and more all contribute to ongoing sexual violence. Wherever oppression is allowed to continue, you will inevitably find higher instances of sexual violence than in groups who do not experience oppression.

Oppression and Sexual Violence by the Numbers

Lifetime Prevalence of Sexual Violence by Race and Ethnicity in American Women:


  • Multiracial women: 33.5%
  • Native women: 26.9%
  • Black women: 22.0%
  • Hispanic women: 14.6%
  • White women: 18.8%

Other Sexual Violence

  • Multiracial women: 58.0%
  • Native women: 49.0%
  • Black women: 41.0%
  • Hispanic women: 36.1%
  • Asian or Pacific Islander women: 29.5%

Ethnicities of Individuals Reporting Contact Sexual Violence, Physical Violence and or Stalking

  • Almost two-thirds of non-Hispanic multiracial women (63.8%)
  • More than half of non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native women (57.7%)
  • More than half of non-Hispanic black women (53.6%)
  • About half of non-Hispanic white women (48.4%)
  • Two-fifths of Hispanic women (42.1%)
  • More than one-quarter of non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander women (27.2%)

Source: National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey

Poverty and Sexual Violence

Poverty is a major form of oppression – poverty and sexual violence go together. Wherever you find poverty, you will find increased rates of sexual violence.

According to the 2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted by the CDC, people who made less than $7,500 report being victims of sexual violence at a rate 12 times higher than the rate reported by people with household incomes greater than $75,000 per year.

Source: 2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey from the Centers for Disease Control

Sexual Abuse Among the Elderly

One of the most horrible types of abuse is elder sexual abuse. Elder abuse occurs when caregivers or others violate the trust they were given to care for an elderly person and take advantage of that person sexually. Although elder sexual abuse can occur anywhere, it tragically occurs most often in nursing homes. These are incredibly immoral and illegal actions, and both families and caregivers need to recognize the signs of this type of abuse

Important Facts about Elder Sexual Abuse

  • 70% of reported abuse occurs in nursing homes
  • Only 30% of victims of elder sexual abuse report it to authorities
  • The abuser is the primary caregiver 81% of the time
  • Elderly women are six times more likely than men to be sexually abused

Source: Nursing Home Abuse Guide

Abusers target elderly people who they believe are vulnerable and easy targets. They also abuse the elderly because they believe they will not be punished if they abuse senior citizens who are isolated from family or easily confused.

Sexual Violence Against the LGBTQ Community

Oppression and discrimination against the LGBTQ community are high – and so are the rates of sexual violence. The numbers show 44% of lesbian women, and 61% of bisexual women experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Members of the LGTBQ community are also unlikely to report abuse as they have had many discriminatory experiences in attempting to gain the cooperation of hospitals as well as law enforcement.

  • Nearly 10% of LGBTQ individuals have experienced sexual assault by their intimate partners.
  • Transgender people and bisexual women face the highest rates of sexual violence.
  • LGBTQ individuals often face discrimination when seeking help from resources.
  • Greater awareness and protection is needed for LGBTQ individuals against sexual violence.

Read the Entire Report from the 2016 U.S. Transgender Survey

Oppression and discrimination against the LGBTQ community lead to elevated instances of sexual violence, and an unwillingness to report sexual violence.

Sexual Violence Against Undocumented Immigrants in the United States

It is nearly impossible to get numbers associated with the prevalence of sexual violence perpetrated against undocumented immigrants. Often sexual violence goes unreported simply from fear of being deported by the victim or survivor.

But the bottom line is, undocumented immigrants have reported being sexually assaulted as a condition for entering the country by their transporters. They have been sexually assaulted in farming environments where they work because perpetrators know they are not going to contact authorities because they are afraid of being a deported. At one time, 4,500 children in federal detention facilities operated by the United States reported instances of sexual violence according to a New York Times Article.

Societal and Community Based Factors Contributing to Sexual Violence

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, there are both community and societal factors that contribute to sexual violence. If you read the list below, you will see that many of the factors also contribute to oppression.

Community Factors

  • Poverty
  • Lack of employment opportunities
  • Lack of institutional support from police and judicial system
  • General tolerance of sexual violence within the community
  • Weak community sanctions against sexual violence perpetrators

Societal Factors

  • Societal norms that support sexual violence
  • Societal norms that support male superiority and sexual entitlement
  • Societal norms that maintain women’s inferiority and sexual submissiveness
  • Weak laws and policies related to sexual violence and gender equity
  • High levels of crime and other forms of violence

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/riskprotectivefactors.html


Sexual violence does not happen in a vacuum. Systems, cultural beliefs, and societal norms that contribute to the oppression of individuals based on race, sexual orientation, age, income level, immigration status, and more all contribute to an environment where sexual violence can flourish. Wherever you find oppression and discrimination, you will find elevated instances of sexual violence – often perpetrated against people who are the least likely to report, or who have a limited ability to report.

Help is Available

Remember, you are NOT alone. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual violence and would like guidance and/or support, please call our 24/7 HOTLINE at 215-985-3333 – all calls are confidential and you can remain anonymous.