Thursday, September 11, 2008

18% of Young US Women Have Been Raped

A new report issued by Child Trends found that approximately 18% of women aged 18 to 24 years report having been raped at least one in their lives. The summary to the report reads:

Forced sexual intercourse is, unfortunately, a somewhat common experience among young adult women – almost 1 in 5 have reported having experienced forced sexual intercourse at some point in their lives. It is also an experience shared by all groups of women, including women of all racial/ethnic groups, and women of all socioeconomic statuses. Women who have experienced forced sexual intercourse report a number of different types of force used during the incident, and most commonly report experiencing verbal or physical pressure and being physically held down. Approximately a third of the women reported being given alcohol or drugs, being abused by someone who was bigger or a grown up, or being threatened, and approximately a quarter of the women reported being physically hurt.

Know More Say More is an initiative by the Family Violence Prevention Fund to educate people about rape and birth control sabotage in violent relationships. The site allows women like "Kylie" to tell their stories:

I had a serious experience with birth control sabotage. When I first met my ex, he never wanted to use condoms. He did want me to use the ‘morning-after pill,’ I’ll admit. I was quite young and didn’t know how to stand up for myself, so I became pregnant after coerced sex.

For the next four years, I stayed with my ex for the sake of the baby, suffering the most horrific kinds of abuse—physical and emotional. His “reason” for abusing me? Because I “trapped” him through pregnancy. Although the only thing I’d been doing since the pregnancy was begging him to let me leave, he threatened to kill me, the baby, and my entire family if I ever attempted it.

At the time, I really believed him. I had no friends, no phone, and no Internet for information. If he caught me calling anyone, he would become extremely angry, which is why he burned all of my address books in front of me and changed our phone number constantly. I couldn’t help but wonder at times if instead of me trapping him, it hadn’t been the other way around.

The good news is that I’ve been single for three years now, live on the opposite side of the country, and will never be trapped again. I just wish I’d had more information when I desperately needed it.
According to the site, 51% of adolescent mothers on public assistance in one study, and two in three of those who experienced domestic violence at the hands of their boyfriends, experienced some form of birth control sabotage by a dating partner. Some 25 to 50 percent of adolescent mothers experience partner violence before, during, or just after their pregnancy. Forty percent of pregnant women who have been exposed to abuse report that their pregnancy was unintended, compared to just eight percent of non-abused women.

In addition, violence is linked to a wide range of reproductive health issues including STD and HIV transmission, miscarriages, risky sexual health behavior and more. Women disclosing physical violence are nearly three times more likely to experience a sexually transmitted infection than women who don’t disclose physical abuse.

Visit Know More, Say More, to learn more.

H/t to Feministing.

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