Nearly 1 in 5 Women in U.S. Survey Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted

RONI CARYN RABIN
December 14, 2011

An exhaustive government survey of rape and domestic violence released on Wednesday affirmed that sexual violence against women remains endemic in the United States and in some instances may be far more common than previously thought.

Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner. One in six women have been stalked, according to the report.

“That almost one in five women have been raped in their lifetime is very striking and, I think, will be surprising to a lot of people,” said Linda C. Degutis, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the survey.

“I don’t think we’ve really known that it was this prevalent in the population,” she said.

The study, called the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, was begun in 2010 with the support of the National Institute of Justice and the Department of Defense. The study, a continuing telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 16,507 adults, defines intimate partner and sexual violence broadly….

But men also reported being victimized in surprising numbers.

One in seven men have experienced severe violence at the hands of an intimate partner, the survey found, and one in 71 men — between 1 percent and 2 percent — have been raped, many when they were younger than 11.

A vast majority of women who said they had been victims of sexual violence, rape or stalking reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as did about one-third of the men.

Women who had experienced such violence were also more likely to report having asthma, diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome than women who had not. Both men and women who had been assaulted were more likely to report frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty sleeping, limitations on activity, and poor physical and mental health.

“We’ve seen this association with chronic health conditions in smaller studies before,” said Lisa James, director of health for Futures Without Violence, a national nonprofit group based in San Francisco that advocates for programs to end violence against women and girls.

“People who grow up with violence adopt coping strategies that can lead to poor health outcomes,” she said. “We know that women in abusive relationships are at increased risk for smoking, for example.”

The survey found that youth itself was an important risk factor for sexual violence and assault. Some 28 percent of male victims of rape reported that they were first assaulted when they were no older than 10. …

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/health/nearly-1-in-5-women-in-us-survey-report-sexual-assault.html?_r=3&hp