Date: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mary Ann Fenley
CDC, National Center for Injury
Prevention and Control (770) 488-4902
CDC Press Office (404) 639-3286
JOINT HHS AND DOJ SURVEY SHOWS EXTENT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Nearly 18 percent of women surveyed, or 17.7 million American women, have been raped or been a victim of attempted rape during their lifetimes, according to the first collaborative study on violence jointly funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice.
Published today in a Justice Department Research-in-Brief, findings from the national survey, conducted by the Center for Policy Research in Denver, Colorado and sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, provide a better understanding of the lifetime rate, nature and consequences of violence against women and men.
According to the survey, fifty-four percent of those raped reported they were under the age of 17 when first raped. The survey also reported that more than half of American women have been physically assaulted some time during their life. Physical assault was defined as behaviors ranging from slapping and hitting to using a gun.
"Each number in this survey represents our daughters, our mothers, and our neighbors. We must recognize violence against women as a significant social problem," HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala said. "At HHS, we are funding programs in each state in the country to provide victims with basic needs such as shelter, legal protections and medical services. And, as called for in the Violence Against Women Act, we are also funding research to better understand what works to prevent this type of violence."
"Too many American women live in fear of the very people upon whom they depend for affection. Instead of providing refuge, the walls of the home often serve as prison bars," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "By working together, the criminal justice and health care communities can make significant progress in alleviating suffering of women."
The National Violence Against Women (NVAW) Survey asked respondents about physical assault they experienced as children by adult caretakers and as adults by any type of perpetrator. They were also asked about forcible rape or stalking they experienced at any time in their life by any type of perpetrator. The study surveyed an equal number of men and women, 8,000 each, and provides comparable data on women's and men's experiences about violent victimization.
The results of the NVAW Survey are consistent with other survey findings in that more women are at greater risk of partner violence than men and the consequences of that violence are more severe for women. Of the women who reported being raped or physically assaulted since age 18, seventy-six percent were assaulted by a current or former husband, a cohabiting partner, or date. In contrast, just eighteen percent of the men reporting rape or physical assault in adulthood were assaulted by an intimate partner. Twenty-five percent of women surveyed and eight percent of men reported that they had been raped or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner or date in their lifetime.
This survey was unique in several ways: the questions regarding violence were posed in the context of "personal safety" as opposed to a "crime;" respondents could call interviewers back when not in the presence of someone who had abused them; women were interviewed by women; and victims were provided with information and referrals for services. The survey's designers believe that these precautions increased the quality of the information collected.
According to the survey, women are significantly more likely than men to be injured during an assault: 32 percent of female rape victims were injured in comparison with 16 percent of male rape victims. Thirty-nine percent of female assault victims compared with 25 percent of male physical assault victims suffered an injury. About one-third of female rape and physical assault victims require medical care.
In conducting this joint project, the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services recognize that violence against women is a multifaceted, societal problem and requires the collaborative work of many disciplines and individuals to continue efforts to stop the violence and alleviate the suffering of its victims.
The departments of Justice and Health and Human Services administer the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a comprehensive approach by the federal government to fight domestic violence and violence against women, combining tough new penalties with programs to prosecute offenders and assist women victims of violence. HHS' FY 1999 budget includes $156 million for grants to states for battered women's services and shelters, programs to reduce sexual abuse among runaways, homeless and streets youth as well as grants to states for rape prevention and education programs, and coordinated community responses.
The Justice Department's FY 1999 budget includes $282.8 million for grants to states, local governments and Indian tribes, $12 million for victims of child abuse programs, $34 million for Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies, $25 million for rural domestic violence programs and $5 million for training.
Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey is available at the National Institute of Justice website: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij and through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service at 1-800-851- 3420 or www.ncjrs.org. A summary of the National Violence Against Women Survey is available from the CDC Press Office. For information and referrals for services, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE.
Note: HHS press releases are available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.hhs.gov.