JAN. 06U.S. Department of JusticeOffice of Justice ProgramsNational Institute of JusticeSpecialREPORTExtent, Nature, and Consequences of Rape Victimization:Findings From the National Violence Against Women Surveywww.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij
U.S. Department of JusticeOffice of Justice Programs810 Seventh Street N.W.Washington, DC 20531Alberto R. GonzalesAttorney GeneralRegina B. SchofieldAssistant Attorney GeneralGlenn R. SchmittActing Director, National Institute of JusticeThis and other publications and products of the National Instituteof Justice can be found at:National Institute of Justicewww.ojp.usdoj.gov/nijOffice of Justice ProgramsPartnerships for Safer Communitieswww.ojp.usdoj.gov
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage iJAN. 06Extent, Nature, and Consequences ofRape Victimization: Findings From theNational Violence Against Women SurveyPatricia Tjaden and Nancy ThoennesNCJ 210346
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage iiGlenn R. SchmittActing DirectorFindings and conclusions of the research reported here are those of the author(s) and do notnecessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justiceand the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, under NIJ grant number 93–IJ–CX–0012.The National Institute of Justice is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which alsoincludes the Bureau of Justice As s i s tance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Office of JuvenileJustice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime.
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage iiiAbout This ReportIn 1995 and 1996, the National ViolenceAgainst Women Survey (NVAWS) was con ducted to measure the extent of violenceagainst women. This nationally representa tive telephone survey asked 8,000 womenand 8,000 men about their experiences asrape victims.Despite an increase in research on rape inthe past 30 years, gaps remain in theunderstanding of rape victimization. Thesurvey elicited information on the preva lence of rape victimization by gender, age,and race/ethnicity; characteristics of rapevictims, rapists, and rape incidents; therelationship between rape victimization asa minor and as an adult; physical, social,and psychological consequences of rapevictimization; and satisfaction with the jus tice system.What did the researchersfind?Almost 18 million women and almost 3million men in the United States havebeen raped. One of every six women hasbeen raped at some time. In a single year,more than 300,000 women and almost93,000 men are estimated to have beenraped. Rape prevalence rates were thesame for minority and nonminoritywomen, but differences were found byspecific racial and ethnic group. Youngerwomen were significantly more likely toreport being raped at some time in theirlives than older women. More than halfof the female victims and nearly threequarters of the male victims were rapedbefore their 18th birthday. Women whoreported being raped as minors weretwice as likely to report being raped asadults.Although the word “rape” is gender neutral,most rape victims are female (almost 86percent), and most rapists are male.Female victims are significantly more likelythan male victims to be raped by a currentor former intimate partner and to sustainan injury during a rape. Many rape victimssuffer serious mental health conse quences. Only one in five adult womenreport their rape to the police. About halfof the women raped as adults who hadcontact with police and about half whohad contact with the courts were satisfiedwith their treatment.What were the study’slimitations?Because only 24 women and 8 menreported during their interviews that theyhad been raped in the 12 months preced ing the survey, the annual estimatesshould be viewed with caution. NVAWSmost likely underestimates the actualnumber of annual rapes because itexcludes rapes of children and adoles cents and those who are homeless orlive in institutions, group facilities, or resi dences without telephones. Because ofthe small number of Asian/Pacific Islanderwomen identified by the survey who hadbeen raped and the small number of menidentified for several indicators (e.g., sev eral race/ethnicity categories, relationshipbetween early and subsequent rape vic timization, injuries sustained during arape), NVAWS could not develop reliablerape prevalence estimates or conduct sta tistical tests.Who should read this study?Criminal justice and public healthresearchers and practitioners; legislators,policymakers, and intervention planners atall levels of government.iii
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage vContentsAbout This Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iiiIntroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1What Is the National Violence Against Women Survey? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3Prevalence and Incidence of Rape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7Rape Prevalence Among Minority Populations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13Rape Prevalence by Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17Characteristics of Rape Victims, Rapists, and Rape Incidents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21Injury and Health Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29Victims’ Involvement in the Justice System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33Questions for Future Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39v
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage 1IntroductionRape is a significant social and healthproblem in the United States. Resultsfrom the National Violence Against WomenSurvey (NVAWS) revealed that 17.7 millionwomen and 2.8 million men in the UnitedStates were forcibly raped at some time intheir lives, with 302,091 women and92,748 men forcibly raped in the year pre ceding the survey. NVAWS found that life time rape prevalence varies significantly byrace and ethnicity. American Indian/AlaskaNative women reported significantly high er rates of rape victimization over their life time than did women from all other racialand ethnic backgrounds (except Asian/Pacific Islander, of whom too few victimswere in the study to reliably estimate rapeprevalence). Mixed-race women reportedsignificantly higher rates of rape victimiza tion over their lifetimes than did Hispanicwomen and slightly higher rates than nonHispanic white and African-Americanwomen.About the AuthorsPatricia Tjaden, Ph.D., isDirector of TjadenResearch Corporation.Nancy Thoennes, Ph.D.,is Associate Directorof the Center forPolicy Research.Information from NVAWS confirms previ ous reports that rape occurs at an earlyage for many rape victims. More than 50percent of the female victims and 70 per cent of the male victims said they wereraped before their 18th birthday. Thesefindings are noteworthy because womenwho were raped before age 18 were twiceas likely to report being raped as adults.Given these findings, it is evident thatrape prevention strategies should focuson rapes committed against minors aswell as adults.Although rape is a gender-neutral crime,the NVAWS findings indicate that mostrape victims are women and most rapistsare men. Th ey also show that victimp e rpetrator relationship patterns variedacross the lifespan for women but not formen. Women who were raped as children(before age 12) tended to be victimized byrelatives; as adolescents (between ages12 and 17) women tended to be raped byintimate partners and acquaintances; andas adults (after their 18th birthday) womentended to be raped by intimate partners.In comparison, male victims tended to beraped by acquaintances regardless of theirage at the time of victimization.The survey also produced compelling evi dence of the physical, social, and psycho logical consequences of rape victimization.About 32 percent of the women and 16percent of the men were injured duringtheir most recent rape as an adult. Of thewomen who were injured, more than 35percent received medical treatment. Inaddition, 33 percent of the women andalmost 25 percent of the men raped asadults received counseling from a mentalhealth professional as a result of theirmost recent rape. Almost 20 percent ofthe women and 10 percent of the mensaid they lost time from work.Despite a steep increase in rape researchand public education in the past 30 years,rape continues to be largely underreported. Only one in five women who were1
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage 2SPECIAL REPORT / JAN. 06raped as adults reported their rape to thepolice. Fear of their rapist, embarrass ment, and not considering their rape acrime or police matter were the primaryreasons women chose not to report theirvictimization to the police.2These findings underscore the need forlaw enforcement agencies and victimservice providers to expand their servicesto rape victims and do more to convincethem that reporting their rape to the policeis worthwhile and appropriate.
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage 3What Is the National Violence AgainstWomen Survey?Many gaps in knowledge about rape vic timization remain.1 Estimates of the preva lence and incidence of rape vary widelyfrom study to study.2 Information aboutminority women’s experiences with rapevictimization is limited,3 as is informationabout men’s experiences as rape victims.Information on the social, physical, andpsychological consequences of rape vic timization also is insufficient.4To help deepen understanding of rape aswell as the broader issue of violenceagainst women, the National Institute ofJustice (NIJ) and the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention (CDC) jointlysponsored—through a grant to the Centerfor Policy Research—a national telephonesurvey on violence against women con ducted in 1995–96. Respondents to theNational Violence Against Women Survey(NVAWS) were queried about their experi ences as victims of various forms of vio lence, including rape. (See “Definitionsand Survey Questions.”) To provide a con text for understanding women’s experi ences, the survey sampled both womenand men. Thus, the survey provides com parable data on women’s and men’s expe riences as rape victims (see “SurveyMethodology”).DEFINITIONS AND SURVEY QUESTIONSIn the National Violence Against Women Survey(NVAWS), rape was defined as an event thatoccurred without the victim’s consent thatinvolved the use or threat of force in vaginal, anal,or oral intercourse. This definition closely resem bles that used in the National Women’s Study(NWS).a However, unlike NWS, NVAWS includesboth attempted and completed rape. Thus, unlessotherwise noted in this report, “rape” refers toboth attempted and completed rape.The survey included five behaviorally specificquestions to screen for rape victimization. Thefirst four questions are identical to those used inNWS and respectively screen for forced vaginal,oral, or anal penetration.b To collect informationabout attempted rape, NVAWS included a fifthquestion that screened for attempted forced pen etration of the vagina, mouth, or anus. To mini mize doubt in the respondent’s mind about whatwas being measured, the questions incorporat ed explicit language. (See “Rape ScreeningQuestions,” page 10.)Respondents who replied “yes” to one or moreof the screening questions were asked whethertheir rapist was a spouse, ex-spouse, malecohabiting partner, female cohabiting partner,relative, someone else they knew, or a stranger.To further delineate the victim-perpetrator rela tionship, interviewers asked respondents whodisclosed rape victimization to specify whichspouse/partner raped them (e.g., first exhusband, current male cohabiting partner); orwhich relative raped them (e.g., father, brother,grandfather, mother, sister, aunt); or, in casesinvolving acquaintances, to specify the relation ship they had with the rapist (e.g., date,boyfriend, girlfriend, boss, coworker, teacher,neighbor).Continued on page 43
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage 4SPECIAL REPORT / JAN. 06DEFINITIONS AND SURVEY QUESTIONS (cont.)Respondents who disclosed rape were askeddetailed questions about the characteristics andconsequences of their rape, including thefollowing: Where the rape occurred. Whether they or their rapist were using drugsor alcohol at the time of the incident. Whether their rapist used a gun, knife, or otherweapon. Whether their rapist verbally threatened them. Whether their rapist physically assaulted them. Whether they thought they or someone closeto them would be seriously harmed or killed bytheir rapist. Whether they were physically injured and, ifso, the types of injuries incurred. Whether they received medical services. Whether they received counseling from a mental health professional. Whether they lost time from routine activitiessuch as school, work, volunteer endeavors,recreational activities, and household chores. Whether they reported their rape to the police. Whether they obtained a restraining orderagainst their rapist and, if so, whether it wasviolated. NVAWS generated information on both theprevalence and incidence of rape. Prevalencerefers to the number of people within a demographic group (e.g., women or men) who are vic timized during a specific time period, such as theperson’s lifetime or the previous 12 months.Incidence refers to the number of separate victimizations, or incidents, perpetrated againstpeople within a demographic group during a spe cific time period. Incidence expressed as a victimization rate is obtained by dividing the numberof victimizations perpetrated against people inthe demographic group by the number of peoplein the group and setting the rate to a standardpopulation base, such as 1,000 people.cNotesa. National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research andTreatment Center, Rape in America: A Report to the Nation,Arlington, VA: National Victim Center and Charleston, SC:Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992.b. Ibid.c. Koss, M.P., and M.R. Harvey, The Rape Victim: Clinical andCommunity Interventions, 2d ed., Newbury Park, CA: SagePublications, 1991.This report summarizes findings fromNVAWS on the extent, nature, and consequences of rape victimization amongwomen and men in the United States.Information is presented on the followingtopics: Prevalence of rape victimization amongwomen and men in different age groups. Relationship between rape victimizationat an early age and subsequent rapevictimization. Prevalenceand incidence of rape victimization among women and men. Characteristics of rape victims, rapists,and rape incidents.Prevalence of rape victimization amongminority populations. Frequency of injuries and sex u a l l ytransmitted diseases incurred byadult victims. 4Whether their rapist was criminally prosecuted.These questions were posed for each type ofoffender (e.g., spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend,grandfather) identified by the victim. Victims whowere raped more than once by the same type ofoffender were asked to use their most recentrape as a reference point.
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage 5E X T E N T, NATURE, AND CONSEQUENCES OF RAPE VICTIMIZAT I O N Injured victims’ use of medical services. Frequencywith which adult victimsreceive counseling from a mental healthprofessional. Frequencywith which adult victims losetime from routine activities, such aswork and school.This report is one of a series on NVAWSpublished jointly by NIJ and CDC. Previousreports have focused on women’s andmen’s experiences as victims of stalking,intimate partner violence, and violence ingeneral. (See “Other Publications From theNational Violence Against Women Survey”at the end of this report.) Adultvictims’ involvement and satisfac tion with the justice system.SURVEY METHODOLOGYThe National Violence Against Women Survey(NVAWS) was conducted from November 1995 toMay 1996 by interviewers at Schulman, Ronca,Bucuvalas, Inc. (SRBI) under the direction ofJohn Boyle.a The authors of this Special Reportdesigned the survey questionnaire and conduct ed the analysis.bThe sample was drawn by random-digit dialing ofhouseholds with a telephone in the 50 States andthe District of Columbia. The sample was admin istered by U.S. Census region. Within eachregion, a simple random sample of working resi dential “hundreds banks” of phone numbers wasdrawn. (A hundreds bank is the first 8 digits ofany 10-digit telephone number.) A randomly gen erated 2-digit number was appended to eachrandomly sampled hundreds bank to produce thefull 10-digit, random-digit number. Separatebanks of numbers were generated for male andfemale respondents. These random-digit num bers were called by SRBI interviewers from theircentral telephone facility, where nonworking andnonresidential numbers were screened out.When a residential household was reached, eli gible adults were identified. In households withmore than one eligible adult, the adult with themost recent birthday was selected as the desig nated respondent.A total of 8,000 women and 8,005 men age 18and older were interviewed using a computerassisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system.(Five completed interviews with men were sub sequently eliminated from the sample duringdata editing because of an excessive amountof inconsistent and missing data.) Only femaleinterviewers surveyed female respondents. Totest for possible bias introduced by the genderof the interviewer, a split-sample approach wasused in the male sample whereby half of theinterviews were conducted by female interview ers and half by male interviewers. A Spanishlanguage translation was administered bybilingual interviewers to Spanish-speakingrespondents.Because of the large number of interviews to beconducted, the survey was fielded as a series ofreplicate samples, with each replicate sampleconsisting of approximately 500–3,000 complet ed interviews. Replicate samples were generat ed using the same sample frame and sampledesign and, unless otherwise noted, were ana lyzed as one sample.Two different sets of rape screening questionswere fielded respectively during the first twofemale replicate samples to ascertain whetherincreasing the number of screening questionsincreases disclosure of rape victimization.Respondents in the first female replicate sample(n 500) were asked two questions that respec tively screened for attempted and completedforced penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouthContinued on page 65
02-SpecialRprt Interior 20051/25/0611:39 AMPage 6SPECIAL REPORT / JAN. 06SURVEY METHODOLOGY (cont.)by penis, and attempted and completed forcedpenetration of the vagina or anus by fingers,tongue, or objects. Respondents in the secondfemale replicate sample (n 501) were askedfour questions that respectively screened forattempted and completed forced penetration ofthe vagina, anus, or mouth by penis; attemptedand completed forced penetration of the mouthby penis or the vagina or anus by tongue;attempted and completed forced penetration ofthe anus by penis; and attempted and completedforced penetration of the vagina or anus by fin gers, tongue, or objects.Survey records from the two replicate sampleswere analyzed immediately following completionof the interviews to determine whether one set ofquestions yielded higher disclosure rates.Results indicate that the two sets of questionsyield similar victimization rates: 21.6 percent ofthe women in the first replicate sample and 20.6percent of the women in t
The National Institute of Justice is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice As s i s tance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Office of Juve n i l e Justice and Delinquency Pr evention, and the Office for Victims of Crime.
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