Sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence are public health problems known to have a negative impact on millions of persons in the United States each year, not only by way of immediate harm but also through negative long-term health impacts. Before implementation of the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) in 2010, the most recent detailed national data on the public health burden from these forms of violence were obtained from the National Violence against Women Survey conducted during 1995-1996. This report examines sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence victimization using data from 2011. The report describes the overall prevalence of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence victimization; racial/ethnic variation in prevalence; how types of perpetrators vary by violence type; and the age at which victimization typically begins. For intimate partner violence, the report also examines a range of negative impacts experienced as a result of victimization, including the need for services.
Description of system:
NISVS is a national random-digit-dial telephone survey of the noninstitutionalized English- and Spanish-speaking U.S. population aged ≥18 years. NISVS gathers data on experiences of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence among adult women and men in the United States by using a dual-frame sampling strategy that includes both landline and cellular telephones. The survey was conducted in 50 states and the District of Columbia; in 2011, the second year of NISVS data collection, 12,727 interviews were completed, and 1,428 interviews were partially completed.
In the United States, an estimated 19.3% of women and 1.7% of men have been raped during their lifetimes; an estimated 1.6% of women reported that they were raped in the 12 months preceding the survey. The case count for men reporting rape in the preceding 12 months was too small to produce a statistically reliable prevalence estimate. An estimated 43.9% of women and 23.4% of men experienced other forms of sexual violence during their lifetimes, including being made to penetrate, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact, and noncontact unwanted sexual experiences. The percentages of women and men who experienced these other forms of sexual violence victimization in the 12 months preceding the survey were an estimated 5.5% and 5.1%, respectively. An estimated 15.2% of women and 5.7% of men have been a victim of stalking during their lifetimes. An estimated 4.2% of women and 2.1% of men were stalked in the 12 months preceding the survey. With respect to sexual violence and stalking, female victims reported predominantly male perpetrators, whereas for male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the specific form of violence examined. Male rape victims predominantly had male perpetrators, but other forms of sexual violence experienced by men were either perpetrated predominantly by women (i.e., being made to penetrate and sexual coercion) or split more evenly among male and female perpetrators (i.e., unwanted sexual contact and noncontact unwanted sexual experiences). In addition, male stalking victims also reported a more even mix of males and females who had perpetrated stalking against them. The lifetime and 12-month prevalences of rape by an intimate partner for women were an estimated 8.8% and 0.8%, respectively; an estimated 0.5% of men experienced rape by an intimate partner during their lifetimes, although the case count for men reporting rape by an intimate partner in the preceding 12 months was too small to produce a statistically reliable prevalence estimate. An estimated 15.8% of women and 9.5% of men experienced other forms of sexual violence by an intimate partner during their lifetimes, whereas an estimated 2.1% of both men and women experienced these forms of sexual violence by a partner in the 12 months before taking the survey. Severe physical violence by an intimate partner (including acts such as being hit with something hard, being kicked or beaten, or being burned on purpose) was experienced by an estimated 22.3% of women and 14.0% of men during their lifetimes and by an estimated 2.3% of women and 2.1% of men in the 12 months before taking the survey. Finally, the lifetime and 12-month prevalence of stalking by an intimate partner for women was an estimated 9.2% and 2.4%, respectively, while the lifetime and 12-month prevalence for men was an estimated 2.5% and 0.8%, respectively. Many victims of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence were first victimized at a young age. Among female victims of completed rape, an estimated 78.7% were first raped before age 25 years (40.4% before age 18 years). Among male victims who were made to penetrate a perpetrator, an estimated 71.0% were victimized before age 25 years (21.3% before age 18 years). In addition, an estimated 53.8% of female stalking victims and 47.7% of male stalking victims were first stalked before age 25 years (16.3% of female victims and 20.5% of male victims before age 18 years). Finally, among victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, an estimated 71.1% of women and 58.2% of men first experienced these or other forms of intimate partner violence before age 25 years (23.2% of female victims and 14.1% of male victims before age 18 years).
A substantial proportion of U.S. female and male adults have experienced some form of sexual violence, stalking, or intimate partner violence at least once during their lifetimes, and the sex of perpetrators varied by the specific form of violence examined. In addition, a substantial number of U.S. adults experienced sexual violence, stalking, or intimate partner violence during the 12 months preceding the 2011 survey. 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. 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. RESULTS suggest that these forms of violence frequently are experienced at an early age because a majority of victims experienced their first victimization before age 25 years, with a substantial proportion experiencing victimization in childhood or adolescence.
Public health action:
Because a substantial proportion of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence is experienced at a young age, primary prevention of these forms of violence must begin early. Prevention efforts should take into consideration that female sexual violence and stalking victimization is perpetrated predominately by men and that a substantial proportion of male sexual violence and stalking victimization (including rape, unwanted sexual contact, noncontact unwanted sexual experiences, and stalking) also is perpetrated by men. CDC seeks to prevent these forms of violence with strategies that address known risk factors for perpetration and by changing social norms and behaviors by using bystander and other prevention strategies. In addition, primary prevention of intimate partner violence is focused on the promotion of healthy relationship behaviors and other protective factors, with the goal of helping adolescents develop these positive behaviors before their first relationships. The early promotion of healthy relationships while behaviors are still relatively modifiable makes it more likely that young persons can avoid violence in their relationships.