Sexual violence is a serious – yet preventable – public health problem. The 2016/2017 report on sexual violence includes updated data for women and men overall and by race and ethnicity and provides information on the types of perpetrators, age at first victimization, and associated health conditions among victims of sexual violence.
Sexual Violence Key Findings:
- Prevalence by sex: Over half of women and about a third of men reported being victims of sexual violence involving physical contact at some point in their lives.
- Prevalence by race and ethnicity: American Indian or Alaska Native people and people who identify with more than one race are heavily burdened by sexual violence victimization.
- Type of Perpetrator: Most victims of sexual violence knew their perpetrator. For most forms of sexual violence, most victims reported that their perpetrators were acquaintances or intimate partners.
- Age at First Victimization: Most victims of all forms of sexual violence involving physical contact reported that their first victimization happened before they were 25 years old. Additionally, many victims (between a third and a half of victims for the forms of sexual violence examined) reported that their first victimization was during childhood (before 18 years old).
- Sexual violence has immediate and long-term impacts: Many victims of rape, being made to penetrate, and sexual coercion reported immediate impacts from the violence including injury, fear, concern for safety, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy (for women). In addition, the prevalence of several health conditions (e.g., asthma, frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty sleeping) was higher for sexual violence victims compared to nonvictims for both women and men.
Notes and Considerations:
- The survey instrument administered in 2016/2017 represents a change in data collection from previous years (2010–2012 and 2015). The goals for the revision were to streamline and improve the flow of the survey, decrease the level of burden on respondents, and reduce the number of data elements to improve data usability.
- Given these revisions, readers and data users are discouraged from comparing estimates from NISVS 2016/2017 to prior survey years (2010–2012 and 2015).
- NISVS has seen a substantial decline in response and cooperation rates in recent years, like other random-digit-dial surveys. The declines are largely attributable to potential respondents not answering their phones or opting not to participate and ending the interview prior to being told about the violence-related content. Still, more than 15,000 women and more than 12,000 men did complete the NISVS survey between September 2016 and May 2017.