National Prevalence of Sexual Violence by a Workplace-Related Perpetrator

Published:December 10, 2019DOI:


      Workplace sexual violence is not a new phenomenon but has received increased attention recently with the re-emergence of the #metoo movement. Gaps exist in the understanding of the prevalence of this problem in the U.S., its perpetrators, and its impacts.


      Using 2010–2012 data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (22,590 women and 18,584 men), this study examined the prevalence of several types of sexual violence by a workplace-related perpetrator (authority figure or nonauthority figure) and numerous impacts of the violence, including psychological impacts, safety concerns, and missing days of work or school. Data were analyzed in 2018.


      In the U.S., 5.6% of women (almost 7 million) and 2.5% of men (nearly 3 million) reported some type of sexual violence by a workplace-related perpetrator. Almost 4% of women (3.9%) reported sexual violence by nonauthority figures and 2.1% reported authority figures; 2.0% of men reported sexual violence by nonauthority figures, and 0.6% reported authority figures. For women, the most commonly reported sexual violence type was unwanted sexual contact (3.5% of women); for men, it was noncontact unwanted sexual experiences (1.3% of men). An estimated 1 million women (0.8%) have been raped by a workplace-related perpetrator. For women and men, fear was the most commonly reported impact of workplace-related sexual violence.


      These findings suggest that workplace prevention efforts that do not address different components of workplace harassment may not be adequate to address all forms of sexual violence occurring across the U.S. in the workplace context.
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