Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

CDC reports on the prevalence of sexual assault and partner violence

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of Americans cope with the problem of domestic violence and sexual assault every day. This problem has been linked to a number of mental and physical health problems, as well as a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases.

Officials at the CDC said that collection of this data may help them gain a better understanding of these issues, which may then lead to preventative efforts.

"This landmark report paints a clear picture of the devastating impact these violent acts have on the lives of millions of Americans," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "The information collected in this ongoing survey will serve as a vital tool in the Administration′s efforts to combat domestic violence and sexual abuse. And the report underscores the importance of our Administration′s work to combat domestic violence and sexual assault."

According to the report, an estimated 12 million men and women experience rape, physical violence or stalking by a partner. The CDC broke its statistics down by gender.

For women, rates of rape stand at around 20 percent, with about 80 percent of these females experiencing their assault before age 25. One-quarter of women reported being physically abused by a partner, and one-sixth said they'd been stalked. The CDC reports that 70 percent of female victims said they'd been hurt by a partner by the time they'd reached 25. Another statistic, which debunks the myth of the dangerous stranger lurking in the alley, is that the large majority of women who reported abuse or rape had been violated by someone who they knew.

Men are far from immune to partner violence, as about one in seven reported having been severely assaulted by a partner, and one in 19 has been stalked. Some 53 percent of male victims said that they'd been abused by the age of 25. Disturbingly, about 25 percent of these individuals said they were first raped at age 10 or younger. Male victims of sexual assault or stalking were more likely than their counterparts who had not been abused to report physical or mental health problems.

"The health problems caused by violence remind us of the importance of prevention," said Howard Spivak, M.D., director of the Division of Violence Prevention in CDC′s Injury Center.