Sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence are a public health threat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A national survey using the most recent data on the subject found that 19.3 percent of women and 1.7 percent of men had been raped in their lifetimes. In all, 1.6 percent of women said they had been raped in the past year.
“Consistent with previous studies, the overall pattern of results suggest that women, in particular, are heavily impacted over their lifetime. However, the results also indicate that many men experience sexual violence, stalking, and, in particular, physical violence by an intimate partner,” CDC noted in their recent report. “Because of the broad range of short- and long-term consequences known to be associated with these forms of violence, the public health burden of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence is substantial.”
Additionally, CDC found that many women and men had experienced sexual violence at a young age. An estimated 78.7 percent of women who had reported being raped, experienced this sexual violence before age 25 and 40.4 percent were raped before age 18.
Women of all races and ethnicities experienced high levels of sexual violence and the sexual abuse was a two way street, meaning both men and women were impacted. Other forms of sexual violence were also prevalent in the study–an estimated 43.9 percent of women experienced some other form of sexual violence including sexual coercion, stalking, unwanted sexual contact, and non-contact unwanted sexual experiences.
It’s worth noting that Time.com found that the statistics were skewed because of the way the questions were asked:
“CDC survey respondents are not asked whether anyone has used physical force or threats to make them engage in a sexual activity, but ‘how many’ people have done this (in their lifetime and in the past year). This wording removes the extra hurdle of admitting that such a violation has happened, and thus encourages more reporting. But could it also create “false positives” by nudging people toward the assumption that the default answer is affirmative—especially when preceded by a battery of other questions and statements about sexually coercive behavior?”
However the questions were asked, the statistics are startling both for women and men. CDC points to a culture of sexual violence that starts young. Changing this culture is no easy task but the realization that so many young women and men are dealing with sexual violence is difficult to swallow.
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