From Our 2011 Archives
Millions of Americans Are Victims of Sexual Violence: CDCBy Steven Reinberg
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Every minute in the United States, 24 people are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, according to an estimate from a new federal report.
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According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 million American women and men suffer some type of partner violence each year, with by far the biggest burden borne by women.
American women suffer more than 1 million rapes annually, the CDC report said, and almost one in every five women will be the victim of rape at some point in her life.
Men aren't immune from such victimization either, however, with one in seven experiencing intimate partner violence during their lifetime.
This is the first such report on sexual violence compiled by the CDC, and "the numbers from the first year of data collection are astounding," Linda Degutis, director of the agency's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said during a press conference Wednesday. "Most of the victims first experienced this type of violence before they were 25 years old, often during their teenage years," she added.
"Sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence are widespread and an important public health problem in this country," Degutis said. "We know this even without knowing the true magnitude of this problem. Many victims do not report this type of violence to the police, friends, family, or health providers."
The effect on victims can be immediate, Degutis said. "Eighty-one percent of women and 37 percent of men who experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner reported at least one impact of the violence, such as fear, concern for safety, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, injury, missing at least one day of work or school and the need for medical care or other victim services," she noted.
And some effects can last a lifetime. For example, "It's much more likely that women who experience violence will have long-term health problems," Degutis said.
The treatment and aftermath of sexual violence is also expensive, costing the nation more than $8 billion a year, Degutis said.
The new report is the first to provide national and state-level estimates of sexual violence. It's also the first report in 15 years to quantify the extent of this problem.
Other key findings include:
One expert in the field called the magnitude of the problem "staggering."
"The CDC survey findings also show a strong link between violence and health problems," said Esta Soler, founder and president of Futures Without Violence, an advocacy group based in San Francisco. "And given that victimization is starting younger, we need to do more to prevent violence with intervention programs for children and adolescents."
Degutis agreed. "Prevention needs to begin early by promoting healthy, respectful relationships in families," she said.
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SOURCES: Esta Soler, founder and president, Futures Without Violence, San Francisco; Dec. 14, 2011, press conference with Linda C. Degutis, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., director, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention