Even before the FBI updated its antiquated definition of what constitutes “rape” to include acts that include non-forcible assault and crimes against men, the United States was experiencing an epidemic of sexual violence.
Findings from a study started in 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that nearly 1 in 5 women are estimated to have been the victims of rape. In almost all cases the perpetrator was someone the victim knew and more than half of the time the perpetrator was their own partner. For 80% of the victims their first rape occurred before age 25; for 42% that dropped to before age 18.
These are just some of the preliminary findings from the first annual report of what will be an ongoing, nationally representative survey of sexual violence in the US. The survey also looked at the rising prevalence of stalking and harassment. In 2010 the study estimates that 1.27 million American women were raped– the equivalent to one woman every 29 seconds–and 5.1 million were stalked–the equivalent to one woman every 7 seconds.
To put it in perspective, according to the findings more women have been raped than currently smoke cigarettes.
With this new data, and with a Department of Justice finally willing to track sexual violence in a way that is meaningful, just maybe we can take a step away from a culture that perpetuates rape and sexual violence to one that respects the physical autonomy of every American.
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