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One in 4 women has been harmed by an intimate partner, CDC says

December 14, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Women and men are often victims of stalking, a CDC report finds, which can be done via computer and smartphones.
Women and men are often victims of stalking, a CDC report finds, which can… (Illustration credit: Reuben…)

Incidences of sexual violence, physical violence from an intimate partner and stalking may be far more widespread in the U.S. than many people think: A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey finds that nearly one in five women has been raped in her lifetime, one in four has experienced serious physical violence from an intimate partner at some point in her life and one in six has been a victim of stalking.

Men have been victimized as well: About one in seven reports an intimate partner has been physically violent and one in 19 has been the victim of stalking. More than a fourth of all male rape victims were first abused at age10 or younger.

The information comes from the ongoing National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey; these 2010 results are from interviews with 9,086 women and 7,421 men. Researchers also discovered that for nearly 70% of women who were victims of some type of intimate partner violence, that violence happened for the first time before age 25.

Most people who were victims of some type of violence knew their perpetrator, who was typically a partner or acquaintance.

The survey also found that being a victim of violence may have health-related repercussions. Women who had been raped or stalked by anyone or physically harmed by an intimate partner had higher incidences of asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes.

Women and men who had been victims of violence were more likely to have chronic pain, frequent headaches, trouble sleeping and overall poor physical and mental health compared with those who hadn't.

"This report highlights the heavy toll that sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence places on adults in this country," said Linda Degutis, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in a news release. "These forms of violence take the largest toll on women, who are more likely to report immediate impacts and long-term health problems caused by their victimization. Much victimization begins early in life, but the consequences can last a lifetime."

Added Dr. Howard Spivak, director of the Division of Violence Prevention in CDC's Injury Center,  "In addition to intervening and providing services, prevention efforts need to start earlier in life, with the ultimate goal of preventing all of these types of violence before they start."

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