U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Sexual Assault Awareness


Sexual assault is a widespread issue in the United States, with nearly 325,000 people experiencing rape or sexual assault in 2021, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Moreover, sexual assault can have lifelong physical, emotional and financial impacts. The Office of Justice Programs is committed to providing victim-centered services to survivors of sexual assault, working to help individuals and communities access justice and working to prevent perpetration. As we observe National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month each April, it is important to recognize the need for survivor voices to be elevated, engaged and heard to effect change in our communities and for perpetrators to be held accountable.

Help for Victims of Sexual Assault

If at any time you feel that you are in immediate danger, we strongly urge you to call your local police department's emergency number (911)

National Sexual Assault Hotline

The National Sexual Assault Hotline’s trained support specialists are available to offer support, information, advice or a referral. You are not alone.
800.656.HOPE (4673)

Public Safety 

The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website allows users to search all state, tribe and territory sex offender registries in one stop. It’s an unprecedented public safety resource that provides access to sex offender data nationwide for free.

Featured Resources

Sexual Assault Advocate and Service Provider Training (SAASPT)
A course designed to teach advocates how to provide competent, effective crisis intervention services to victims and survivors of sexual assault.

OVC Help Series for Crime Victims – Sexual Violence
A website and brochure with a definition of sexual violence, what to do if you are the victim of sexual assault and national resources for more information and assistance on where to go for help.

OVC-funded Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)
This program provides specialized medical forensic care to sexual assault survivors. The program supports the training and certification of SANEs and the development and implementation of SANE programs at healthcare facilities across the country.

SAKI Sexual Assault Kit Initiative 
Thanks to the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, to date more than 199,467 sexual assault kits have been inventoried, 92,944 kits have been sent for testing, and 16,468 DNA hits to the national CODIS database have been made. 

National Crime Victimization Survey Dashboard (N-DASH)
National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
This dynamic analysis tool allows you to examine National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data on both personal and property victimization, by select victim, household, and incident characteristics.

Strengthening Military-Civilian Community Partnerships to Respond to Sexual Assault
The military has its own way of life – its own social structure, unique hierarchy, and even its own laws. Community-based victim service providers who are not familiar with the military may find it baffling and impenetrable. But when a sexual assault involves both community and military providers, both parties must know how to work together to support the victim more effectively.

Take it Down
Free online tool to support victims of online child sexual exploitation 

SurvivorSpace is a new technology-based resource informed by survivors, for survivors. It is a clearinghouse of resources and information for survivors of child sexual abuse.

Funding Opportunities

Explore OJP's funding opportunities to support victims and victims’ services.

Learn about JustGrants, DOJ's grants management system.

Featured Sexual Assault Awareness Events

  • National Sexual Violence Resource Center
    August 22, 2023 – August 24, 2023

    This event brings together over 2,000 advocates and activists invested in ending sexual violence. This annual conference provides opportunities to share information and resources, advance learning, develop new skills, and increase capacity to assert the dignity of all people. The 2023 conference theme of “Equity in Action” will allow the opportunity to build strong partnerships and strategies that strengthen work to end sexual violence.
  • Exploring the Link Between Dating Apps and Sexual Assault: Novel Research Findings
    April 4, 2023 (recorded)
    Series: 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month Webinar Series: Novel Research On Sexual – Forensic Technology Center of Excellences 

    Dr. Julie L. Valentine shared background information on dating app usage and user demographics to provide context for research findings on dating apps and sexual assault. Research findings were presented on sexual assaults committed at the first in-person meeting when the victim and assailant met on a dating app compared to other sexual assaults not associated with dating apps. Practice and policy recommendations were shared to improve dating app safety.
  • Solving Violent Crime Through Lawfully "Owed" DNA: Outcomes of Efforts to Address Missed DNA Samples
    April 11, 2023 (recorded)
    Series: 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month Webinar Series: Novel Research On Sexual – Forensic Technology Center of Excellences

    This presentation explored the issue of lawfully “owed” DNA, which is a DNA sample from a qualifying offender who should have their DNA sample in CODIS (based on applicable state law), but from whom a sample has never been collected or submitted to a lab for testing. As the first jurisdiction funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative to address lawfully owed DNA, this presentation provided information on the scope of the problem in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland, OH), the process by which individuals who owe were identified, the outcomes of these efforts, the lessons learned and recommendations for other jurisdictions.
  • Touch DNA Evidence Collection in Sexual Assault Cases: Knowledge to Inform Practice
    April 18, 2023 (recorded)
    Series: 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month Webinar Series: Novel Research On Sexual – Forensic Technology Center of Excellences

    Dr. Julie L. Valentine introduced the application of touch DNA in sexual assault cases through a case study. A literature review on touch DNA was summarized to provide contextual information and research on touch DNA analysis findings in groping sexual assault cases will be discussed. The webinar concluded with recommendations for multidisciplinary partners to collect, submit, and analyze evidence in sexual assault cases for touch DNA.
  • Low Prosecution Rates in Sexual Assault Cases: Can We Make Sustainable Improvements?
    April 25, 2023 (recorded)
    Series: 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month Webinar Series: Novel Research On Sexual – Forensic Technology Center of Excellences

    Dr. Julie L. Valentine provided background information on the challenges in tracking prosecution outcomes in sexual assault cases of adult victims. Research utilizing the National Institute of Justice Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Practitioner Toolkit in two Utah counties were presented. Variables predicting prosecution were explored. Participants were invited to consider societal, structural, and legislative barriers to prosecution of adult sexual assault cases faced in their jurisdiction to encourage multidisciplinary collaboration.

Featured Sexual Assault Awareness Publications


The Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Sexual Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking produced a series of factsheets for SOMAPI.

Key Things to Know About Adults Who Sexually Offend
Sex offenders vary in the reasons why they offend, who they offend against and their reoffense risk. Specialized supervision — in conjunction with assessment and treatment — can be effective in reducing sex offenders’ recidivism risk.

Adult Sex Offender Recidivism
Measuring sex offender recidivism is difficult due to underreporting and different methods used in research studies. Studies with longer follow-up periods show that recidivism increases over time. Furthermore, different “types” of sex offenders have different recidivism rates.


Sexual Assault Awareness Videos and Podcasts

PREA: What You Need to Know

This 16-minute inmate education video is designed to help adult prisons, jails, and lockups to meet the inmate education requirements of the Department of Justice's National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape (§§115.33 and 115.132).

The video includes an introductory section that can be used during intake. The intake education portion of the film informs incoming inmates about a facility's zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse and ways that victims can report. The full video can be used to provide a comprehensive inmate education program, which covers the definition of sexual abuse and sexual harassment, the absolute right of inmates to be free from such violence, agency policies and procedures toward preventing and responding to it, and how inmates can get support and medical and mental health care after an assault.

The video features a range of experts, including prisoner rape survivors, former PREA inmate peer educators, advocates, and corrections officials. Because inmate education should be facility-specific, the video has information that is applicable to all adult detention settings.

Sexual Assault Kit Initiative: Addressing the Backlog of Unsubmitted Kits

SAKI was designed specifically to address the backlog of unsubmitted kits. The focus is to account for every kit in every jurisdiction, make sure it gets tested & investigated, and let the victims know something is happening with their kit. 

Normal is Normal: Effective Use of Medical Evidence in the Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse Cases

This webinar discussed the importance of pediatric sexual assault exams in cases of child sexual abuse and how to present the findings of that exam to a jury. A majority of the exams will be "normal" and that evidence can be used to corroborate a child's statement using expert medical testimony. The testimony of the expert can also be used to explain anatomy which gives prosecutors medical evidence to argue issues of penetration.

Campus Sexual Assault Responses (CSAR): Informing Trauma-Informed Policies, Protocols, and Training

Sexual violence is a significant criminal justice problem with long-term effects for its victims. In particular, sexual assault on or related to college campuses across the United States presents a growing public health and economic burden, starting with significant impacts on academic outcomes.

The long-term goal of this study is to support the development of policies, protocols, training, and interventions to strengthen responses to campus sexual assault (CSA) by campus public safety agencies in partnership with campus health and wellness centers, as well as with local law enforcement agencies and health and victim service providers.

The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website

Originally launched in 2005, NSOPW.gov is the only federal website that searches public sex offender registries in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the five principal U.S. territories and participating federally recognized Indian tribes. One search provides comprehensive, up-to-date sex offender information—anytime, anywhere, for free. 

Just DNA Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases

In episode one of our 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month mini-season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Julie L. Valentine, a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, to discuss how large-scale data collection can provide a better understanding of sexual assault cases and improve sexual assault response practices, policy, and education.

Throughout her career, Dr. Valentine identified a gap in data-driven practices for responding to sexual assault cases. Using her experience providing care to survivors, Dr. Valentine embarked on research to collect comprehensive data regarding which factors assist in developing an assailant’s DNA profile so that it can be entered into local, state, and national databases. Listen along as Dr. Valentine describes the relationship between research and providing care, her goals for developing best practices and public policy, and some of her specific research findings.

Dr. Valentine is also participating in the FTCOE's Sexual Assault Awareness Month webinar series where she will present on the use of dating apps, the value of trace/touch DNA, and research on prosecution rates associated with sexual assault cases.

Just Improved Response to Sexual Assault

Just Science sat down with Dr. Julie L. Valentine, the Associate Dean of the Brigham Young University College of Nursing, to discuss the factors contributing to low prosecution rates for sexual assault cases.

Despite national efforts to improve the submission rate of sexual assault kits for forensic testing and to support the investigation of sexual assault cases, Dr. Valentine's research indicates that prosecution rates for sexual assault cases remain low.

Listen along as Dr. Valentine discusses the challenges associated with resource allocation for improved sexual assault response reform, the outcome of her research related to prosecution rates for sexual assault cases, and how future legislation may positively impact response reform efforts.

Just DNA Searches in Codis

In episode three of our 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month mini-season, Just Science sat down with Orlando SalinasLieutenant Trampas Gooding, and Jennifer Pollock from the Texas Department of Public Safety to discuss how statutes regarding lawfully owed DNA and familial DNA searches are utilized in sexual assault investigations. 

When an unknown DNA profile is found in samples collected within a sexual assault kit, the unknown profile is searched within national DNA databases such as the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS. To ensure a comprehensive national database and enhance its use as an investigative tool, all states have legislation requiring the collection of DNA from known offenders of qualifying offenses and subsequent entry into CODIS. Some states also allow the use of familial DNA searching in CODIS. Listen along as Orlando, Lieutenant Gooding, and Jennifer describe how they collect lawfully owed DNA samples, conduct familial DNA searches, and talk about specific cases that were solved by using these investigative tools.

Date Modified: April 24, 2023
Date Created: April 24, 2023