What the CDC's Sexual Violence Report Tells Us About Women and Assault

Nearly one in five women have been raped, according to a new report on sexual victimization from the Center for Disease Control. 

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Nearly one in five women have been raped, according to a new report on sexual victimization from the Center for Disease Control. The data tracks the responses of 12, 727 men and women over the age of 18, based on their experiences during and through 2011. The report's findings — particularly how prevalent rape is, and the fact that most rapists aren't strangers — shouldn't be surprising, but there's a difference between knowing facts dispel certain myths and seeing the numbers laid out.

19.3% of Women Have Been Raped

That breaks down to 23.3 million women over the age of 18. The C.D.C. defines rape as "completed forced penetration" (11.5 percent, 13.8 million),  "attempted forced penetration" (6.4 percent, 7.7 million), and "Completed alcohol- or drug-facilitated penetration" (9.3 percent, 11.2 million).

Also, 43.9 percent of women have experienced other forms of sexual violence, including being groped, kissed, made to penetrate (0.6 percent of women and 6.7 percent of men report this), or shown explicit materials against their will.

40.4% of Women Were Under 18 When They Were Assaulted

Via C.D.C.

According to the report, 40.4 percent of women said they were under 18 when they were first assaulted, and 78.7 percent say they were under 25 years old. That doesn't include "attempted penetration" rapes.

The Majority of Women Know Their Rapist

Not only do most women know their attacker, 45.4 percent of victims were assaulted by a former intimate partner, and 12.1 percent were assaulted by a family member. Knowing the perpetrator also applied to other forms of sexual violence. Based on the data, women are slightly more likely to receive unwanted sexual contact — like kissing or fondling — from a family member (22.1 percent) as they are from a complete stranger (21.1 percent).

The same is true for men — 29 percent of male victims were raped my an intimate partner, and 44.9 percent were raped by an acquaintance.

15.2 Percent of Woman Have Experienced Some Form of Stalking

Some forms of stalking are more extreme than others — calling and hanging up is not as invasive as entering a person's home and doing things to let them know you were there — but stalking is something experienced by women (15.2 percent) and men (5.7 percent). Of the individuals who reported being victims of stalking:

  • 49.7 percent of women and 32.2 percent of men experienced their stalker watching them from a distance with a camera or listening device
  • 61.7 percent of women and 47.7 percent of men experienced the stalker showing up at their home, school, or work place
  • Over 50 percent of men and women received unwanted text messages, phone calls or voice mails
  • 26.8 percent of women experienced their stalker breaking into their home, or car and "did things to scare victim by letting victim know they had been there." 
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.