Back to Top

 Skip navigation

Key Findings

Four in ten adults reported experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime

CSO statistical publication, , 11am
National Helplines

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this survey, help is available from the following national helplines or from local/regional helplines which you can find in the Background Notes.

The Sexual Violence Survey 2022 – Main Results was published on 19 April 2023. Data within the publication were revised on 1 June 2023. These data revisions were due to a formatting issue. All content relating to the tables, including the text of the statistical release, Press Conference presentation and PxStat tables (, now reflect the revised data.

Details as to the extent of these revisions on previously published data can be found in the Information Note Sexual Violence Survey - Main Results.

Key Findings

  • The proportion of adults who experienced sexual violence in their lifetime was 40%, with higher levels for women (52%) compared with men (28%).

  • Overall, sexual violence prevalence rates in the survey show an age effect as younger people reported higher levels than older persons, for example, 22% of those aged 18-24 experienced sexual violence both as an adult and as a child compared with 8% of those aged 65 and over.

  • Four times more women (21%) than men (5%) reported experiencing non-consensual sexual intercourse over their lifetime.

  • One in ten women (10%) experienced non-consensual sexual intercourse as an adult when they were unable to give consent.

  • Almost one in five (17%) men aged 25-34 experienced non-consensual sexual touching as an adult.

  • One in five adults experienced unwanted contact sexual violence as a child (20%) and a similar number experienced unwanted non-contact sexual violence (19%).

  • The majority of adults (78%) who experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime knew the perpetrator, with very little difference between women (79%) and men (75%).

  • About half of adults (47%) who experienced sexual violence in their lifetime told someone about it, with disclosure more likely if the experience was with a non-partner-only (55%) than with a partner-only (16%). Women who experienced sexual violence in their lifetime were more likely to have told someone (53%) compared with men (34%).

Statistician's Comment

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) today (19 April 2023) released Sexual Violence Survey 2022 – Main Results.

Commenting on the results, Helen McGrath, Statistician in the Social Analysis Section, said:

“This publication outlines the main results from the Sexual Violence Survey (SVS) which was conducted in 2022, following a request from the Department of Justice and the Government. The objective of the survey is to provide high quality national prevalence data on sexual violence in Ireland which will act as a new baseline for the levels of sexual violence in Ireland. The survey is proposed to be conducted again in 10 years’ time.

We appreciate that behind the data in today’s publication are a range of individual stories, which speak to the lived experience of those who have, and those who have not, experienced sexual violence. The publication today provides a lot of important detail and insight on a very serious and sensitive societal issue.

About the Survey

The survey focused on respondents’ experiences of a broad spectrum of sexual violence and harassment experiences in their lifetime. Sexual violence is defined in this survey as a range of non-consensual experiences, from non-contact experiences to non-consensual sexual intercourse. The word “violence” is sometimes associated with the use of force. However, as outlined in the Luxembourg Guidelines, which is a set of guidelines to harmonise terms on childhood sexual violence and abuse, “violence” can also mean having a marked or powerful effect on someone. The experiences detailed in this publication range across a variety of experiences up to and including those which result in the most serious violations of personal dignity. 

Overall Results

Overall, we found that four in ten adults reported experiencing sexual violence over their lifetime. There were clear differences by sex and age in terms of experiences of sexual violence. Women were more likely to have experienced sexual violence (52%) compared with men (28%). Young women (aged 18-24) reported the highest levels of sexual violence experienced in their lifetime at 65%, compared with 17% for men aged 65 and over.

For non-consensual sexual intercourse, defined as sexual intercourse where the person was coerced, threatened or forced into having sex, women experienced four times the level (21%) in their lifetime compared with men (5%).


The CSO would like to thank everyone who took part in this survey. We are extremely conscious that this survey was very sensitive. We are very appreciative of the trust respondents put in us in terms of our conduct of the survey and in how we will protect the confidentiality of their experiences. Each person who engaged with this survey has helped the CSO to present a clear picture of the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland.

We would also like to thank the 500 or so respondents who indicated that they had not disclosed any of their sexual violence experience(s) to anyone, but these respondents did feel comfortable enough to share their experience with the CSO.  We are grateful to those people for placing their trust in us, to all those who took part in the survey, and everyone who contributed to this project.”

For more commentary on the findings of the survey please see the Press Release.

Editor's Note

Survey Details

The data for the survey was collected between May and December 2022. For the data collection phase, the survey was known as the “Safety of the Person” survey in accordance with ethical guidelines to ensure a graduated introduction to the survey and to better ensure the personal safety of respondents who may be in an ongoing abusive relationship. To ensure that a wide range of respondents could engage with the survey, a range of data collection modes were used: secure web form, self-completion facilitated by an interviewer, and a paper form. Despite the sensitive nature of the survey, more than 4,500 respondents took part. An FAQ for the survey is available. In addition, where the word reported is used in this publication it means that the person told the CSO as part of this survey.

Comparability of Results with Other Surveys or Results from Other Countries

Comparing the results of sensitive surveys like the SVS to other surveys or the results from other countries can be very challenging. Comparability between surveys on similar topics must take into consideration several factors, such as differences between definitions of variables over time and between countries, how the survey is introduced or collected, etc. For further information, see the Introduction to the publication and the Background Notes.