A comprehensive government survey of rape and domestic violence released on Wednesday determined that sexual violence against both men and women in the United States is occurring at surprisingly high rates, although assaults still affect women at disproportionally high rates.
Nearly one in five women survey for the study, called the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, said they have been raped at some point in their lives. Just over half of female rape victims reported the assault was perpetrated by an intimate partner, while another 40 percent said they were raped by an acquaintance. Meanwhile, a third of female respondents said they had been stalked by an intimate partner, a quarter reported being beaten by a partner, while almost half of all respondents -- including men -- said they had experienced psychological and/or emotional abuse by an intimate partner.
The study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is based off a continuing telephone survey of a nationally representative e sample of 16,507 adults. It contains a broad definition of sexual violence that encompasses behaviors that have not typically been tracked by national surveys, such as sexual violence other than rape, control of reproductive and sexual health and psychological aggression.
Incidents Begin Early in Life
This report highlights the heavy toll that sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence places on adults in this country. said Dr. Linda C. Degutis, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in a statement. Much victimization begins early in life, but the consequences can last a lifetime.
Based on the results, the report estimates 1.3 million U.S. women reported rape or attempted rape in the 12 months prior to taking the survey, which defines the act an complete forced penetration, attempted forced penetration or an alcohol or drug facilitated complete penetration. Approximately 80 percent of female victims said they experienced their first rape before the age of 25, with almost half of those saying the rape occurred before age of 18. Thirty-five percent of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults, according to the report.
Although there were far fewer male rape victims, 1 in 17 of the 7,400 men surveyed said they had been raped at some time in their life, 28 percent who said they were first assaulted before the age of 11. Fifty-two percent of men said they were raped by an acquaintance, while most said -- similarly to the female respondents - that they were victimized by one person.
In addition, 1 in 7 men said they had experienced severe physical violence at the hands of a partner and 1 in 19 said they had experienced stalking to the point that they were fearful for either their own or a loved one's life.
Both men and women who had experienced rape, stalking or physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime were more likely to report lasting psychological and physical ailments, including frequent headaches, chronic pain, and generally poor physical health compared to those who had not been victimized. A majority of women and about one-third of men who were victimized reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The World Health Organization reports that intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women are major world-wide public health problems that can result in poor physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health.
A WHO multi-country study of 10 mainly developing nations found extreme variations on sexual assault statistics based on region -- for example, about 15 percent of women in Japan reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, compared to 70 percent of those in Ethiopia and Peru.