Saturday, December 17, 2011

Survey: 1 in 4 women attacked by intimate partner

Dec. 14, 2011 By MIKE STOBBE | Associated Press

ATLANTA — It's a startling number: 1 in 4 women surveyed by the
government say they were violently attacked by their husbands or

Experts in domestic violence don't find it too surprising, although some
aspects of the survey may have led to higher numbers than are sometimes

Even so, a government official who oversaw the research called the results

"It's the first time we've had this kind of estimate" on the prevalence of
intimate partner violence, said Linda Degutis of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.

The survey, released by the CDC Wednesday, marks the beginning of a new
annual project to look at how many women say they've been abused.

One expert called the new report's estimate on rape and attempted rape
"extremely high" — with 1 in 5 women saying they were victims. About half
of those cases involved intimate partners. No documentation was sought to
verify the women's claims, which were made anonymously.

But advocates say the new rape numbers are plausible.

"It's a major problem that often is underestimated and overlooked," said
Linda James, director of health for Futures Without Violence, a San
Francisco-based organization that advocates against domestic abuse.

The CDC report is based on a randomized telephone survey of about 9,000
women and 7,400 men.

Among the findings:

— As many as 29 million women say they have suffered severe and
frightening physical violence from a boyfriend, spouse or other intimate
partner. That includes being choked, beaten, stabbed, shot, punched,
slammed against something or hurt by hair-pulling.

— That number grows to 36 million if slapping, pushing and shoving are

— Almost half of the women who reported rape or attempted rape said it
happened when they were 17 or younger.

—As many as 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence or
stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, compared to about 1 in
10 men.

—Both men and women who had been menaced or attacked in these ways
reported more health problems. Female victims, in particular, had
significantly higher rates of irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, frequent
headaches and difficulty sleeping.

—Certain states seemed to have higher reports of sexual violence than
others. Alaska, Oregon and Nevada were among the highest in rapes and
attempted rapes of women, and Virginia and Tennessee were among the

Several of the CDC numbers are higher than those of other sources. For
example, the CDC study suggests that 1.3 million women have suffered rape,
attempted rape or had sex forced on them in the previous year. That
statistic is more than seven times greater than what was reported by a
Department of Justice household survey conducted last year.

The CDC rape numbers seem "extremely high," but there may be several
reasons for the differences, including how the surveys were done, who
chose to participate and how "rape" and other types of assault were
defined or interpreted, said Shannan Catalano, a statistician with the
Bureau of Justice Statistics.

"It is an evolving field, and everyone is striving to get a handle on
what's the best estimate," Catalano said.

The CDC's numbers don't seem surprising to people who work with abused women.

"I think that the awareness is growing," said Kim Frndak, community
educator for the Women's Rescue Center to End Domestic Violence, which
operates a shelter on the outskirts of Atlanta.

"More and more people are really saying, 'Oh, this is something that we
need to pay attention to as well,' because it's your sister, it's your
mother, it's your daughter, it's your son, it's your brother. Someone in
your own circle is being affected by domestic violence, and the effects
can be devastating," she said.

Associated Press Writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.


CDC report:

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