Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Definitions and Statistics

To end domestic violence and sexual assault, we have to be knowledgeable and clear about how these issues are defined, how these crimes affect survivors and how often they happen. All of us must educate ourselves and others. We can all learn how to speak up, how to seek help if we or someone we know experiences intimate violence, how to say NO MORE.


The next time you’re in a room with 6 people or discussing important issues with your family, think about this:

  • 1 in 7 women in Hawaiʻi have experienced forcible rape in their lifetime.6
  • 575 domestic violence survivors in Hawaiʻi seek support from local programs every day in Hawai’i. 5
  • 50,000 women between the ages of 18 and 64 are victims of domestic violence each year in Hawaiʻi.2
  • 1 in 3 teens in the United States experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend each year.3
  • 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men in the United States have experienced some form of sexual violence.1
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in America experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.1
  • 1 in 5 women in the United States experience rape.1
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in the United States were sexually abused before the age of 18.4

Looking for the citations for these stats? Click here.


To end domestic violence and sexual assault, we have to be knowledgeable.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is an intentional pattern of abusive behavior used to establish power and control by one person in a relationship over their intimate partner. This pattern of abusive and violent behavior includes the threat or use of physical and/or sexual violence as well as emotional, economic, psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Perpetrators engage in these behaviors in a conscious and intentional manner. They have not “lost their tempers” but purposely control their victims and/or family members by instilling fear of violence if victims do not comply.

Domestic violence affects individuals and families in every community, regardless of economic status, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender or nationality. The consequences of domestic violence can include short- and long-term emotional and psychological trauma, physical injury and in some cases, even death.

Examples of how domestic violence is perpetrated in a relationship vary, but abusive, controlling acts can include:

  • Enforcing complete control of all finances such as demanding and accounting for every penny spent by their partner or children
  • Controlling who the survivor sees, talks to, where the survivor goes and/or how the survivor dresses, speaks or acts
  • Stalking the survivor and/or monitoring their every move through constant contact, excessive texts and phone calls
  • Emotional abuse including name calling, shaming and/or degrading put-downs
  • Showing jealousy towards the survivor’s family, friends or even children
  • Criticizing the survivor’s parenting skills, especially in front of the children
  • Threatening to hurt or kill the victim, children or the abuser him/herself
  • Not honoring child visitation or custody arrangements, including kidnapping the children
  • Destroying property such as the victim’s family photos, memorabilia or valuable papers (such as school work)
  • Forcing sexual acts, such as rape, having sex after physical violence has been perpetrated or forced participation in pornography
  • Isolating the victim from family and friends by cutting off phone service, tracking cell use, denying access to transportation and/or checking emails


What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is forced or coerced sexual contact without consent. Sexual assault is unwanted, enforced by physical means, threats or coercion. Consent is the presence of a clear “yes,” not the absence of a “no.” Victim compliance with unwanted sexual acts for the sake of survival is not consent.

Perpetrators of sexual assault are not seeking sex or sexual pleasure, but to harm, humiliate, control and/or intimidate their victims. Sexual perpetrators come from all backgrounds, and survivors of sexual assault are from every community regardless of economic status, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender or nationality. The aftermath of sexual assault includes short- and long-term emotional and psychological trauma, physical injury and in some cases, even death.

Sexual assault includes:

  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Child sexual abuse or molestation
  • Oral sex
  • Harassment
  • Exposing/flashing
  • Forcing a person to pose for sexual acts, photos or videos
  • Unwanted sexual touching above and/or under clothing
  • Human sex trafficking
  • Sexual force or coercion including, but not limited to:
    • Use or display of a weapon
    • Physical abuse
    • Immobilization of the victim, including by use of drugs and/or alcohol
    • Threats to impose compliance


If you have experienced domestic violence and/or sexual assault you are not alone.

To get help for yourself or for someone you know who has experienced domestic violence and/or sexual assault, go to Resources.

Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault have a range of normal reactions, ranging from physical pain or injuries to a wide array of emotions. Survivors may feel alone and express fear, anger, guilt, embarrassment, denial, shame and/or shock. They may outwardly express these reactions or express very little. It is natural to feel these and many other feelings. If you are a survivor, it’s important to know that what happened to you was not your fault; the responsibility lies with the perpetrator. Help is available.

Friends and family around a survivor often have their own reactions to the violence their friend or loved one has experienced. Even suspecting that someone may have been abused may result in heightened fear, concern about safety, increased anger and/or distress. There are resources to support survivors and those close to them. Go to Resources to find out more.



  1. Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. Goebert, D. A. (1999). A review of male violence against women in Hawaii. Hawaii Medical Journal, 58 (September, 1999), 232-235. Honolulu, HI.
  3. Liz Claiborne, Inc. & Family Violence Prevention Fund. Teen Dating Abuse 2009 Key Topline Findings.
  4. Dube, SR, Anda, RF, Whitfield, CL, Brown, DW, Felitti, VJ, Dong, M, Giles,WH; National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control (2005). Long-Term Consequences of Childhood Sexual Abuse By Gender of Victim. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 28 (5) (June 2005), 430-8. Atlanta, GA.
  5. National Network to End Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence Counts: Census 2013 Report. Washington, D.C.
  6. Ruggiero, K.J. & Kilpatrick, D.G. (2003). Rape in Hawaii: A Report to the State. Charleston, SC: National Violence Against Women Prevention Center, Medical University of South Carolina.

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Hawaii Facts and Statistics

1 in 7 women in Hawaiʻi have been raped in their lifetimes. That's 67,000 women.

Over 500 victims seek services from domestic violence shelters in Hawaiʻi daily.

Because it's someone

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