On Wednesday, Dec. 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). This is an ongoing, nationally representative survey that assesses experiences of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence among adult women and men in the United States. This large-scale ongoing study confirms many realities that advocates and educators already know about sexual violence, intimate partner violence and stalking: These forms of violence continue to be pervasive and deserve more attention and funding. It also sheds new light on the scope and context of these forms of violence.
Sexual violence, intimate partner violence and stalking continue to be a serious public health issue. The survey data show that nearly 1 in 2 women (44.6%) and 1 in 5 men (22.2%) experience sexual violence other than rape throughout their lifetime. This may include behaviors such as sexual coercion, unwanted sexual touch and non-contact forms of sexual violence. In contrast, rape represents times when the victim, herself or himself, was sexually penetrated or there was an attempt to do so. The survey results show that 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime. Additionally, approximately 1.3 million women reported being raped in the 12 months prior to taking the survey.
As advocates and educators, we believe that violence can be prevented and its impact can be reduced. NISVS provides a compelling reason to support primary prevention initiatives to reduce sexual violence in our communities. The data from NISVS will help inform areas such as prevention & intervention efforts, strategic planning, policy and program development.
The CDC has prepared an extensive toolkit that describes the survey methodology, best ways to interpret and use the data, tips for working with media and answers to frequently-asked questions. Some key findings pertaining to sexual violence are highlighted below.