The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has initiated two projects to identify, develop and test the best methods for collecting self-report data on rape and sexual assault. In June 2011, BJS charged an expert panel from the National Research Council’s Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) to examine conceptual and methodological issues surrounding survey statistics on rape and sexual assault and to recommend to BJS the best methods for obtaining such statistics on an ongoing basis. In September 2011, BJS made a competitive award to Westat, Inc. to develop and test two different survey designs for collecting self-report data on rape and sexual assault. One design is to be an optimal design identified by the CNSTAT panel and the other will be similar to designs used in the public health approach for measuring rape and sexual assault. Estimates from these two designs will be compared to data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Please see BJS Activities on Measuring Rape and Sexual Assault for more information on these projects.Rape – Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means penetration by the offender(s). Includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and same sex rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.Sexual assault – A wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape.  These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender.  Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling.  It also includes verbal threats.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – Rape and Sexual Assault