Dec 14, 2011
CONTACT Marsha Robertson

CDC Survey Shows Alarming Prevalence of Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Abuse

Futures Without Violence Says Survey Findings Demonstrate Need for More Prevention Efforts and Earlier Intervention

Washington, DC – One in five American women has been a victim of sexual assault in herlifetime and one in four has experienced domestic violence, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study is the largest survey conducted on sexual and intimate partner violence in the past 15 years, and the first to document and track the consequences of violence on a national scale.

“These high rates of violence and abuse are simply unacceptable,” said Esta Soler, Founder and President of Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund). “This is a public health crisis and we need to deal with it as such.”

Victims of violence and abuse are at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, chronic pain, asthma and diabetes. Victims of violence were also three times more likely to report poor physical or mental health problems than women who have not experienced violence. Abused women and girls are at significantly higher risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and poor pregnancy outcomes. Children who witness family violence are more likely to experience depression, substance abuse, obesity and asthma.

“As the Senate gets ready to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, we urge members of Congress to review the CDC data,” said Soler. “The findings clearly demonstrate the desperate need to strengthen programs to prevent violence, promote healthy relationships, and address the health problems victims of violence face.”

The CDC report underscores the fact that violence often begins at an early age and therefore, we need to conduct prevention and intervention programs earlier. For example, the Start Strong initiative, managed by Futures Without Violence and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is working to promote healthy relationships in middle schools.

The findings also demonstrate the need for health care providers to screen for victims of violence. Earlier this year, an Institute of Medicine report urged the need for health care professionals to assess their patients, intervene when needed, and refer to resources.

“If we are serious about preventing violence, then we must get serious about the resources, strategies and programs we put in place to stop the cycle of violence and abuse,” said Soler.

About Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund

For more than 30 years, Futures Without Violence has led the way and set the pace for innovative educational programs, public action campaigns, policy development and leadership training designed to end violence against women, children and families around the world. Instrumental in developing the landmark Violence Against Women Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1994, Futures Without Violence has established an International Conference Center that will engage today’s diverse national and global leaders, stand with survivors, and continue working to break the silence around gender-based violence.

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