CDC data reveal high rates of intimate partner violence

Nearly one in five women in the United States has experienced rape or attempted rape, according to a CDC study released this week.

The study is CDC's first look at national rates of intimate partner and sexual violence in more than a decade. Researchers surveyed 9,086 women and 7,421 men on topics including rape, other types of sexual violence, psychological aggression, coercion, control of reproductive and sexual health, and the physical and mental health effects of sexual assault. The survey defined rape as completed forced penetration, forced penetration facilitated by drugs or alcohol, or attempted forced penetration.

According to the findings, sexual violence disproportionately affects women. Overall, one-third of women in the study had been raped, beaten or stalked, or were victims of a combination of assaults. About half of rapes involved women's intimate partners, and one in four women said they were violently attacked by an intimate partner. About 1.4% of U.S. men reported being raped at some point in their lives, with more than half by an acquaintance. The study noted that nearly 80% of rapes of female victims occurred before age 25, and more than 25% of men were first raped at age 10 or younger.

The researchers also found that rape and sexual violence often have negative health-related repercussions, such as higher incidences of asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and diabetes in victims. Victims of sexual violence were more likely to report symptoms of post-traumatic stress-disorder, frequent headaches, chronic pain and difficulty sleeping (Rabin, New York Times, 12/14; Stein, "Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 12/14; Fox, National Journal, 12/14 [subcription required]; Stobbe, AP/Sacramento Bee, 12/14).