Sexual Violence Prevention
These webpages list, briefly describe, and provide resources for more information on data sources on sexual violence and intimate partner violence in Minnesota. Please contact Marissa.Raguet@state.mn.us with questions or comments.
Important things to know about sexual violence and intimate partner violence data
Victimization versus perpetration
What is known about sexual and intimate partner violence in Minnesota is thanks to the stories and information shared by victims and survivors.
Data from victims/survivors is a window into the true cause of violence, which is perpetration.
The real number of perpetrators and incidents of perpetration are unknown. Perpetrators rarely admit to their behaviors and may not even recognize their own behaviors as violence. Therefore, the burden has been on victims/survivors to share their stories for the world to know the magnitude and experiences of sexual and intimate partner violence.
While the best data available in Minnesota is provided by victims/survivors disclosing violence, the total actual number of sexual and intimate partner violence victims/survivors and experiences of victimization are unknown. As a result, the data most likely represents an undercount of the true magnitude of the harm. We understand these limitations, and we honor the experiences of all people whose lives have been affected by sexual and intimate partner violence, including those who are not included in surveillance systems.
There are significant gaps in data availability, data access, and data tracking of sexual and intimate partner violence. Strong efforts are being made to improve these gaps, including for the gaps listed below.
Gaps described here have been identified based on an understanding of the data collection systems that exist and based on input from community partner experts.
This is not a comprehensive list.
- Sexual and intimate partner violence that occurred before surveillance systems is usually not represented in data systems. Also, surveillance tracking of sexual and intimate partner violence is a relatively recent activity in the modern era. This means that to better understand the burden of sexual and intimate partner violence in Minnesota, there is a need to unearth and document individual and collective narratives about historical experiences of sexual and intimate partner violence victimization.
- Sexual and intimate partner violence victimization perpetrated against marginalized communities, including but not limited to people of color, American Indians, people who are low income, disabled, LGBTQ, recent immigrants and refugees, undocumented immigrants, or non-English speakers is under-represented in surveillance data systems. At times, the same societal structures that marginalize communities and increase threat of victimization, also create barriers to reporting. Also, the methods of data collection may conflict with community context or cultural practices. As a result, marginalized communities may have reduced access to report victimization.
- Sexual and intimate partner violence perpetrated within and by systems such as law enforcement, criminal justice system professionals, and immigrant enforcement and detention professionals is under-represented in surveillance data systems because individuals who are within these systems have reduced access to reporting or fear reporting. However, work is being done to address this data gap in some systems through the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
- Sexual and intimate partner violence victims who are murdered and/or kidnapped by perpetrators, including those who go missing, are not captured well in common surveillance systems. In such cases, victims are missing for various lengths of time, and some are never found. Those who are murdered are unable to share what happened, therefore while investigators might code the case as a homicide, depending on the available evidence they may not be able to code it as a sexual assault or intimate partner violence case. Death certificates and medical examiner reports, two common sources of death data, include the physical direct cause of death, such as a gunshot wound, but the motives and context behind the homicide are not included and sometimes unknown. However, work is being done in Minnesota to address this gap through the National Violence Death Reporting System, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relative’s Office, and the non-profit state coalition Violence Free Minnesota which has tracked and reported on intimate partner homicides since 1989.
- Data on sexual and intimate partner violence victims who die by suicide is not specifically tracked by surveillance systems. Victimization can negatively impact mental health through fear and feelings of hopelessness, a contributing factor to suicide. While not specifically tracked by surveillance systems, work is being done to start to gather this data through the National Violence Death Reporting System.
- Types of sexual or intimate partner violence that are less understood or not commonly focused on, that are new or emerging, that are not asked about in surveillance survey efforts, and/or that are not reportable as crimes or rights violations are not always well-captured by surveillance systems. Examples include nonconsensual sexual messaging; creation and distribution of child sexual violence images and videos; intimate partner violence perpetrated using reproductive coercion and coercive control; sexual harassment; and commercial sexual exploitation.