Sexual violence

This page gives information about sexual violence and answers the questions:

What is sexual victimisation?

The NZCASS measures sexual victimisation in a number of ways:

  • the number of sexual offences committed in a year
  • the number of adults who were the victim of one or more sexual offences in a year
  • the percentage of adults who were the victim of one or more sexual offences in a year (annual prevalence)
  • the number of sexual offences for every 100 adults in a year (incidence rate)
  • the percentage of adults who experienced a sexual offence at some point during their lives (lifetime prevalence).

What is a sexual offence?

In the NZCASS, we asked questions about different things that might have happened to respondents. Legal experts then coded these incidents to determine if a sexual offence occurred, allowing us to calculate the annual statistics. Sexual offences include sexual violation (vaginal, anal or oral penetration) and indecent assault.

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How much sexual victimisation is there?

We estimated 186,000 sexual offences were committed in 2013. While we found no statistically significant change between 2008 and 2013, we did record a decrease between 2005 (317,000) and 2013.

When we look at the percentage of New Zealanders who were victims of sexual violence, we found 2.1% of adults experienced one or more sexual offences in 2013. This decreased over time, from 3.9% in 2005 to 2.8% in 2008 and down to 2.1% in 2013.

Looking at sexual victimisation by gender, we found that women (2.9%) were more likely than men (1.1%) to have experienced a sexual offence in 2013.

Overall, we found there were 5.2 sexual offences for every 100 adults in 2013.

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What are the relationships between victims of sexual violence and the offenders?

Percentage of adults who were victims of one or more sexual offences, by type of offence and broad relationship to the offender (2013).

* Rounds to 1% from unrounded numbers.

Supporting information

The different relationship groups in this hierarchy shouldn’t be added together because:

  • multiple offenders could have been involved
  • not everyone has been in an intimate partnership


In 2013, 1.3% of adults were victims of a sexual offence by someone they knew (but where the offender was not an intimate partner or family member), down from 2.8% in 2005.

The percentage of adults who were victims of a sexual offence by a stranger has fallen over time, down from 1.6% in 2005 to 0.9% in 2013.

Women (1.6%) were more likely than men (0.5%) to have experienced a sexual offence committed by an intimate partner in 2013.

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How many sexual offences are reported to Police?

In 2005, 9% of sexual offences were reported to Police, compared to 7% in 2008.

Note: The 2008 estimate is flagged. Use it with caution because it has a margin of error of between 10 and 20 percentage points. Due to the decreasing number of sexual offences, an estimate for 2013 cannot be provided because the sampling error is too high.

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What is the lifetime prevalence of sexual victimisation?

As well as asking respondents about things that happened to them in the year before the interview, we also asked whether they had ever experienced sexual violence.

In 2014, 15% of adults had experienced one or more incidents of sexual violence at some point during their lives. Women were more likely to have experienced one or more incidents during their lives than men (24% compared to 6%).

Women were also more likely than men to have experienced:

  • distressing sexual touching – 22% of women compared to 5% of men
  • attempted forced sexual intercourse– 11% of women compared to 2% of men
  • forced sexual intercourse – 11% of women compared to 2% of men
  • other sexual violence – 10% of women compared to 2% of men

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