Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women
Priscilla Schulz, LCSW
from an article of the same title by:
Patricia Tjaden, Ph.D.
Nancy Thoennes, Ph.D.
Center for Policy Research
Published: U. S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs,
National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
What is the National Violence Against Women Survey and why was it
The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAW), conducted from November
1995 to May 1996, was a national telephone survey of adults and a joint
project of National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control.
For several decades the public awareness of and research into the causes
and effects of violence against women has produced much data. In the late
'90s however, important gaps in data still remained, namely, information
between certain types of violence against women (i.e., child abuse) and
later victimization as adults
experiences with violence
of violence (i.e., injury rates, use of medical services).
The NVAW survey proposed to close these gaps. In addition, the U. S. Department
of Justice will use data from the survey to better protect Americans from
violence, to provide justice to criminals, and to inform the nation about
the extent and nature of violence against women.
How was the NVAW survey different from other surveys?
What were the study's findings?
- Both men and women were surveyed.
- State of the art techniques protected respondents' confidentiality
and safety as well as minimized the chance of retraumatization.
- Prevalence rates (numbers of victims) and incidence rates (numbers
of victimizations) were gathered.
- The survey used behaviorally specific questions, adapted from the
1992 National Women's Study survey, to minimize respondents' doubt about
the type of information sought.
- The survey gathered detailed information about the characteristics
and consequences of victimization for various classes of perpetrator,
such as victim's first husband.
Lifetime prevalence rates of reported physical assault among respondents:
52% for women
12 month prevalence rates of reported physical assault among respondents:
66% for men
1.9% for women
Prevalence of reported rape is higher among youth.
3.4% for men
54% of female
rape victims were first raped before age 18.
Childhood victimization places victims at risk for later victimization.
22% of female
rape victims were first raped before age 12.
32% were between
12 and 17 years old when first raped.
18% of the female
rape victims who reported being raped before age 18 were raped again as
More research is needed on minority violence experiences. Differences seem
to exist in minority women's risk of violence.
Only 9% of adult
female rape victims, without childhood rape experiences, were raped more
American Indian/Alaska native women:
a) Reported more rape and physical assault than other minority
women on the NVAW survey.
b) Earlier studies found both that Native American couples were significantly
more violent than white couples and overall homicide was 2 times the U.
c) Little is known about differences between the diverse American Indian
tribes and Alaska Native communities regarding experiences of violence.
a) Reported fewer experiences of violence on the NVAW survey
than other minority women despite earlier studies that indicated violence
was a major problem among this population.
b) Because data about Asian American and Pacific Islander women were combined
in this study, little is known about differences between these two diverse
groups of women.
a) Were less likely to report rape than non-Hispanic women.
Women experience more partner violence than men do.
a) 25% of women vs. 8% of men reported intimate partner violence
had occurred at some time in their lives.
b) 1.5% of women vs. 0.9% of men reported being raped and/or physically
assaulted by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey.
c) Differences in rates of partner violence increased as seriousness of
the assault increased:
Violence against women is primarily partner violence.
Women were 2-3 times more likely than men to report low
level violence (pushed, grabbed, having an object thrown at them).
Women were 7-14 times more likely than men to report more serious
violence (choked, beaten, threatened by a gun or shot).
76% of women victims reported being assaulted or raped by current
or former intimate partners.
Violence in general is primarily male violence.
Male perpetrators reportedly victimized 93% of female adult
victims & 86% of male adult victims.
Regarding injuries and use of medical services:
Stalking is a significant social problem.
- Twice as many women as men reported injuries caused by a rape, and
significantly more women than men reported injuries resulting from a
- Most injuries reported by men or women victims were minor injuries.
- 36% of adult female rape victims and 30% of adult female assault victims
received medical treatment.
- The number of treatments exceeded the number of rapes and assaults
because some victims received more than one medical service.
What are the policy implications of the NVAW study?
- Lifetime prevalence rates:
- 8% of women reported being stalked
- 2% of men reported being stalked
- 1% of female and 0.4% of male respondents said they had been stalked
in the preceding 12 months.
Reviewed by: Priscilla Schulz, LCSW, August 1999
- Adult violence prevention strategies should focus on reducing violent
behaviors in men.
- Stalking should be treated as a legitimate criminal justice problem
and public concern.
- Violence against women should be considered a major criminal justice
problem and public health concern.
- Rape prevention strategies should focus on preventing rapes of minors.
- Rape research should explore long-term effects of and treatment strategies
for childhood rape victimization.
- More research is needed to understand both prevalence and incidence
rates of violent crimes within ethnic minority populations, as well
as research that discriminates between minority groups such as between
different American Indian tribes. Current research results are contradictory,
but suggest these populations are at risk.
- Violence against women intervention strategies should focus on the
risks to women from former and current intimate partners.
- The American medical community should receive comprehensive training
about the medical needs of female victims of crime.
- Given that the majority of crime victims are not getting medical care
for crime related injuries, health care professionals need to evaluate
crime victimization histories during routine medical visits. With such
assessments, previously untreated health care needs could receive attention.