1 In 5 Women Have Been Raped During Their Lifetime, And America Still Doesn't Know What To Do About It

On-campus sexual assault has been one of the year's major talking points, but a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals a grim new statistic about rape in the United States. The CDC report found 1 in 5 women will be raped at some point in her life. Percentage-wise, that means 20 percent of U.S. women, which is, well, alarming. 

Unfortunately, that percentage doesn't account for overall sexual violence, such as sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact or being made to penetrate. According to the CDC, about 44 percent of women and more than 20 percent of men have experienced these forms of sexual violence at some point in their lives. 

The study also looked into other non-consensual sex crimes, including intimate partner violence and stalking.  About 15 percent of women have reported being stalked during their lifetime, compared to 5.7 percent of men. However, it's worth noting that women were predominantly stalked by men, while men were stalked by a mix of men and women. 

Although the CDC report focused on the general population, and not solely college campuses, there's one factor that's incredibly telling: Women are likely to endure rape at a young age. Nearly 80 percent of women were raped before the age of 25; about 40 percent of those women were raped before the age of 18. 

Here's what the CDC had to say:

It is clear that many of these forms of violence are first experienced by many in adolescence and young adulthood. This suggests the critical need for primary prevention to focus on promoting healthy relational behaviors and patterns that can be carried forward into adulthood. Continued surveillance of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence is needed to understand these public health problems better and to serve as a measuring stick by which the success of prevention efforts can be gauged. 

Another pattern that emerges from the study is the profile of the perpetrator. Women are more likely to be raped by someone they know, whether an intimate partner or an acquaintance. In fact, the CDC found that a majority of sex crimes, whether rape, sexual assault or non-consensual sexual contact, were committed by someone the woman knows. This further debunks the myth that our mothers told us: that rape happens by some stranger waiting for you on a dark street. 

This is only the second intimate partner violence survey the CDC has done. The first, conducted in 2010, had slightly lower stats: about 18 percent of women experienced rape at some point in her life, the survey found then. Still, it was more or less consistent with this new survey's findings, and the slightly higher stats could mean that since the FBI changed the definition of rape in 2012, more people are coming forward and reporting their rapes — which is a good thing. 

However, considering that there's been relatively no change within these last four years, it's painfully obvious that America still has a rape problem. 

Images: Samantha Marx/Flickr, Getty Images 

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