Sexual violence can be perpetrated by, or against, anyone regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or ability.

However, not all people are at equal risk of sexual violence and research indicates that risk of being targeted for sexual violence varies according to a range of personal and socio-demographic factors such as gender, age and relationship to the perpetrator. Read more about risk factors for sexual violence here.

Gender is a major predictor of sexual victimisation, with women having a disproportionately higher risk of sexual victimisation than men. Also, being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is a risk factor, including victimisation from partners and victimisation that occurs as a result of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic violence.

Research indicates that young women and Māori women are almost twice as likely to experience sexual violence and young Pacific peoples also report high rates of unwanted sexual contact. In addition to this, studies indicate that sexual violence is more likely to be experiencedby people with a disability and people who have been abused as children or adolescents.


Just as there is no typical survivor, there is no typical offender. However, research suggests that offenders are more likely to be people that are known to the survivor with over one-third of sexual offences committed by current partners, a quarter a friend, one in 10 by a boyfriend or girlfriend and one in 20 incidents a work colleague. From the Report of the Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence.

The National Collective of Rape Crisis statistics for the years 1992-1996 found that 92.6% of survivors knew the offender.

The majority of perpetrators in a New Zealand Study of survivors of child sexual abuse, were male family members, (with uncles being the most frequently reported perpetrator) with a median age of 21 years or older.