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Rape of Older People In The United Kingdom: Challenging The ‘Real Rape’ Stereotype

Bows, Hannah; Westmarland, Nicole

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Despite extensive research on rape and sexual violence, there exists an important gap in knowledge around older victims. This gap exists in relation to national statistics (the Crime Survey for England and Wales has an upper age limit of 59 for intimate violence), and by both criminologists and gerontologists. This research used an under-utilized method by criminologists—freedom of information requests to police forces. Data were obtained from 45 forces relating to 655 cases of rape and sexual assault by penetration over a five-year period and were analysed in relation to victim and perpetrator age, relationship, location of crime and type of offence. The findings challenge the dominant real-rape stereotypes and have implications for future research, policy and practice.


Bows, H., & Westmarland, N. (2017). Rape of Older People In The United Kingdom: Challenging The ‘Real Rape’ Stereotype. The British Journal of Criminology: An International Review of Crime and Society, 57(1), 1-17.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 5, 2015
Online Publication Date Nov 24, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 5, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jan 15, 2016
Journal British Journal of Criminology
Print ISSN 0007-0955
Electronic ISSN 1464-3529
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 57
Issue 1
Pages 1-17
Keywords Rape, Sexual assault, Victims, Older victims, Age, Ageing.


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (433 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (ISTD).
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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