On college campuses — where one in five women are assaulted — only one in eight report it. That’s because college-aged victims often don’t “see the incidents are harmful or important enough” or “[want] family or other people to know.” They feel restricted by “lack of proof,” “fear of reprisal by the assailant, fear of being treated with hostility by the police, and anticipation that the police would not believe the incident was serious enough and/or would not want to be bothered with the incident,” according to a 2000 National Institute of Justice study.
Even for victims who do end up reporting their assault through police, there’s no guarantee the assailant will be convicted. Rape kits are backlogged by the thousands across the U.S., and as a recent White House report explains, “even when arrests are made, prosecutors are often reluctant to take on rape and sexual assault cases.”
In the military — where one in three women are assaulted by their fellow service members — the fear of reporting is intensified by chain of command, according to a Department of Defense survey. The DoD found that 62% of women who reported their assaults suffered retaliation for it. According to findings presented in the documentary Invisible War, 33% of servicewomen didn’t report their assaults because “the person to report to was a friend of the rapist,” while 25% didn’t report because “the person to report to was the rapist.”
According to RAINN, only about 3% of rapists are ever sentenced to prison. In the military, according to Invisible War, only 2% are convicted.