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PR: Media Criticized for Biased Coverage of CDC Violence Report

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Teri Stoddard

Media Criticized for Biased Coverage of CDC Violence Report

WASHINGTON, December 18  — Men are equally likely to be victims of intimate partner aggression and are far more likely to have experienced coercive control at the hands of their girlfriends and wives. But SAVE, a victim advocacy group, is charging widespread media bias in its coverage of a recent Centers for Disease Control report.

The CDC study, known as the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, reached the following conclusions:

— 6.5% of men and 6.3% of women were victims of intimate partner aggression in the previous 12 months ( , pages 43-44).

— Men were 50% more likely to have experienced coercive control than women (men: 15.2%; women: 10.7%) (page 46).

— 8.7% of men currently have an intimate partner who tried to get pregnant when he did not want to, or tried to stop either of them from using birth control. In comparison, only 4.8% of women currently have a partner who tried to get her pregnant when she didn’t want to (page 48).

But none of these key findings was mentioned in articles by the New York TimesWashington PostCNN, or any other major media reports reviewed to date.

Instead, media coverage focused on the survey’s finding that nearly one in five women were victims of rape or attempted rape. But media accounts sidestepped a controversial aspect of the CDC survey: the study’s inclusion of “completed alcohol/drug facilitated penetration” in its count of rape victims.

The CDC’s broad definition includes situations where the couple mutually agrees to attend a party and then engage in sexual relations. So if a husband and wife go to a New Year’s Eve party, enjoy several rounds of champagne toasts, and afterwards have sexual relations, the CDC definition would count him a rapist and his wife a rape victim.

And a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary in similar manner would be counted by the CDC as parties to a violent and abhorrent crime.

Columnist Robert VerBruggen highlighted the irony: “Researchers ask women about their sexual experiences, and then classify some experiences as ‘rape’ that most people, including the women themselves, do not consider to be rape.” (

“The average weather forecast provides readers with a more accurate and balanced picture than how most media outlets covered the CDC report,” explains SAVE spokesman Philip Cook. “Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault deserve better than one-sided headlines, inflammatory images, and fawning editorials.”

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner abuse: