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Study Reveals Troubling Violence Against Women Statistics

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New findings from a Center for Disease Control survey reveal that nearly one in five women have experienced sexual violence.

CREDIT: istockphoto / Spauln

A new study by the Center for Disease Control reveals that violence against women continues to be a significant problem in the United States, and some of the troubling findings indicate that sexual violence occurs at a high rate.

According to the national survey, nearly one in five women has been raped or has experienced an attempted rape. The results also found that one in six women has been stalked, and one in four have been reported being beaten by their intimate partner.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey [PDF], conducted by the CDC in 2010, found that the majority of victims encountered rape and sexual assault for the first time in their youth. Of rape victims, 80 percent reported being raped before 25 and nearly half of female victims said they were raped before they turned 18. Of male victims, more than a quarter—28 percent—said they were first assaulted when they were 10 years old or younger.

According to the New York Times, the study also linked being raped at an early age with being more likely to be raped in adulthood–about 35 percent of women who had been raped as minors also reported rapes as adults.

This study also recorded other types of domination like psychological aggressions, coercion, and control of reproductive and sexual health—factors that had not been previously considered when conducting such surveys.

Women and men who were sexually assaulted also reported having more physical and mental health problems, ranging from asthma to diabetes to irritable bowel syndrome. The majority of victims reported symptoms that are typically associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In the majority of cases, both male and female victims said they were raped by someone they knew—either an intimate partner or an acquaintance. 

According to the Times, the study’s “broad” definition of rape—completed forced penetration, forced penetration, facilitated by drugs and alcohol, or attempted forced penetration—calculated that one percent of the women surveyed were raped last year, suggesting that as many as 1.3 million women could have been raped in 2010.

That number is considerably high when compared to the Department of Justice’s estimate that around 188,000 persons were raped last year. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s statistics indicate that there were just fewer than 85,000 assaults defined as forcible rapes reported in 2010.

Those low figures indicate that the common definition of rape may be too narrow, or that many victims are afraid to report such violence.

Earlier this month, the FBI expanded its definition of rape from “carnal knowledge of a female forcible and against her will” to include “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim."

Naima Ramos-Chapman is an associate editor at Campus Progress.

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