CDC: Violence Against Women is More Prevalent than Previously Thought

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On average, 24 people per minute (mostly women) are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, according to findings released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story – more than 1 million women reported being raped in a year and over 6 million women and men were victims of stalking in a year, the report says.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, or NISVS, is one of CDC′s latest public health surveillance systems and is designed to better describe and monitor the magnitude of sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence victimization in the United States. It is the first survey of its kind to provide simultaneous national and state-level prevalence estimates of violence for all states.

Key findings in the NISVS 2010 Summary Report include:

  • High rates of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence were reported by women.
    • Nearly 1 in 5 women has been raped at some time in her life.
    • One in 4 women has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime.
    • One in 6 women has experienced stalking victimization during her lifetime in which she felt very fearful or believed that she or someone close to her would be harmed or killed. Much of stalking victimization was facilitated by technology, such as unwanted phone calls and text messages.
  • Almost 70 percent of female victims experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before the age of 25.
  • Approximately 80 percent of female victims of rape were first raped before age 25.
  • Female victims of violence (sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence) were significantly more likely to report physical and mental health problems than female non–victims.
  • Across all forms of violence (sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence), the vast majority of victims knew their perpetrator (often an intimate partner or acquaintance and seldom a stranger).

The report findings also underscore violence as a major public health burden and demonstrate how violence can have impacts that last a lifetime. For instance, the findings indicate female victims of violence had a significantly higher prevalence of long-term health problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, frequent headaches, chronic pain, and difficulty sleeping. And nearly twice as many women who were victims of violence reported having asthma, compared to women who did not report violence victimization.

For more information about NISVS, including the executive summary and study details, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs.

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