United States: Millions of Women Impacted by Sexual and Physical Violence
Thursday, September 11, 2014 9:50 PM

Sexual and intimate partner violence is a “substantial” public health burden impacting millions of women in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s second National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (Survey) found that one in four women in the U.S. has experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner, one in five women has been raped, and one in six women has been the victim of stalking. Nearly 45% percent of women have suffered “other forms of sexual violence, such as sexual coercion, groping, or exposure.” 

The Survey’s results demonstrate that women are disproportionately impacted by physical and sexual violence. As compared to men, women suffer much higher rates of violence and report greater levels of fear, stress, physical injuries, and lost days at work. Women were also far more likely to need medical, legal or housing assistance. 

The Survey’s author’s concluded, “[a]lthough progress has been made in efforts to prevent sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence, these forms of violence continue to exact a substantial toll upon U.S. adults.” Because most victims first experience violence before the age of 25, the CDC stressed the importance of prevention programs that target children and young people. To complete the Survey, the CDC compiled and analyzed data from thousands of confidential interviews conducted by CDC researchers in 2011. 

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued similar reports in 2014 documenting high rates of sexual, physical and intimate partner violence against women and girls in Europe and around the world. 

Compiled from: Cloutier, Catherine, Report finds women carry burden of sexual, domestic violence, The Boston Globe (September 9, 2014); Perry, Susan, 1 in 5 U.S. women raped during their lifetimes, CDC study finds, MinnPost (September 8, 2014); Breiding, Matthew, et al., Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization — National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (September 5, 2014).