Sexual victimization perpetrated by women: Federal data reveal surprising prevalence


Federal agency data find that female sexual perpetration is not uncommon.

Gender stereotypes interfere with complex understandings of sexual perpetration.

Broadened feminist approaches can shed light on female sexual perpetration.

Studies among college students and inmates provide context for at-risk groups.

Professionals responding to sexual victimization must address it in all its forms.

This article examines female sexual perpetration in the U.S. To do so, we analyzed data from four large-scale federal agency surveys conducted independently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2008 through 2013. We found these data to contradict the common belief that female sexual perpetration is rare. We therefore reviewed the broader literature to identify patterns and provide context, including among high-risk populations such as college students and inmates. We recommend that professionals responding to this problem avoid gender stereotypes that downplay the frequency and impact of female sexual perpetration so as to comprehensively address sexual victimization in all forms.