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Research on Intimate Partner Sexual Assault Using Previously Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits

NCJ Number
Women & Criminal Justice Volume: Online Dated: MAR 2024
Heather C. Melton
Date Published
March 2024

Using data from one of the sites for the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), researchers compared characteristics of sexual assault cases involving intimate partners and those involving strangers.


This study exploring intimate partner sexual assault found that while both intimate partner and stranger victims were overwhelmingly young and female, intimate partner cases were more likely to occur in private residences and involved more violence in addition to the sexual assault than did stranger cases. Using data from one of the sites for the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), researchers examined the characteristics of the cases involving intimate partners, how they compare to stranger cases, and implications this might have for knowledge of intimate partner sexual assault and what should be done to respond to it. Of the 1411 previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits in the study, 276 (almost 20%) involved intimate partner cases. Over one-third of the intimate partner cases involved other violence. Intimate partner cases were also more likely to be charged and screened at the original incident. These findings have important implications for the response to intimate partner sexual assault. Law enforcement, service providers, and health care professionals must be knowledgeable about different types of sexual assault in order to employ the most effective and supportive responses. Sexual violence is most often perpetrated by someone a survivor knows, including intimate partners. Yet, this continues to be one of the least understood types of sexual violence. (Published Abstract Provided)