Trigger Warning: This article contains details about sexual assault and rape.
A new study in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine found some deeply upsetting and frustratingly unsurprising information about American women’s experience with rape. According to the study, more than 3.3 million American women ages 18 to 44 were raped the first time they had intercourse. That is…a huge number, and absolutely heartbreaking.
What’s more, which pulled data from 2011 to 2017, the data comes from surveys given between 2011 and 2017. Since 2017 and the dawning of the #MeToo movement, many women have felt more comfortable coming forward with experiences of assault, suggesting this already-shocking number could be even higher.
Rape is disgustingly common for women. In fact, earlier research has found that 40% of women experience sexual violence in their life, and half of those experiences are rape. And now, this new study reveals that for many women, rape is the first thing they experience when it comes to having intercourse.
The study revealed some more statistics, and I am going to break them down here, but again want to warn you that they are upsetting and triggering.
- 6.5% of women or surveyed had an unwanted first sexual intercourse that was forced or coerced. Researchers estimated that to be 1 in 16 US women.
- The average age of women who experienced forced sexual initiation was 15.6.
- The average age of the partner or assailant at the time was 6 years older. (Some 50% of women surveyed said the perpetrator was larger or older.)
- More than 46% of the women were held down.
- In 56% of the instances, men used verbal pressure.
- Men used physical threats more than 26% of the time.
- Men caused physical harm in more than 25% of the instances.
- Some 22% of the women were drugged.
- More than 30% of the survivors said they had an unwanted first pregnancy.
- Some 24% of survivors said they had ever had an abortion in their lifetime, which is a higher percentage than women whose first sexual intercourse was consensual.
These numbers solidify what we already know: American women are experiencing sexual violence at an alarming and upsetting rate, and having to live with the trauma of the experiences for the rest of their lives. Doctors should be prepared to deal with this trauma, and men should be prepared to do better.
Yesterday, the Pentagon released its biennial report on sexual assault in the military and gals, it ain’t good. Since 2016, there’s been a 38 percent rise in military sexual assaults reported.
In 2018, there were 20,500 instances filed, compared with 14,900 in 2016. The report shows that 85 percent of victims knew their perpetrator and booze was involved in 62 percent of the cases. Uhm, to borrow military terminology: Sir, no, sir!
Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ), who earlier this year revealed she is a survivor and was raped during her time in the military, responded to the alarming figures on Thursday. “Just like when we have other readiness issues where we need bombs and bullets and training hours, we need to invest more resources into this process to make sure we’re addressing the shortfalls we’ve seen throughout the different bases I’ve visited,” she said.
If we need to smoke out all of the rapists and pervs in the military, I’ll start learning to do pushups so I can help out.
Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan expressed alarm at the figures, stressing that the military “must, and will, do better.”
“To put it bluntly, we are not performing to the standards and expectations we have for ourselves or for each other. This is unacceptable,” he said. “We cannot shrink from facing the challenge head-on.”
Director of the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Navy Rear Adm. Ann Burkhardt, noted that she thought this was a leadership issue and that the armed forces need to re-evaluate at every level how people are being treated.
“It can be the smallest things we say when people aren’t being treated right, when you hear a sexist comment or a racial slur or any way that somebody is not being treated appropriately,” she said. “It’s on all of us to take action, to say something, step up or to notify somebody that they can take action.”
Okay, so while none of us thought that the military would be exactly like Cadet Kelly, this news is still incredibly alarming. An almost 40 percent rise in sexual assault amongst our nation’s “finest men” is obviously unacceptable. If this trend keeps up, the Marines with their slogan ‘The Few, The Proud, The Marines” are going to have even fewer recruits by strong, admirable women. Because who in their right mind is going to enter an environment with so much sexual assault prevalent?
Of course, part of this alarming increase in assaults may be partly due to the #MeToo movement, and to people’s willingness to come forward. But that doesn’t solve the problem. The assaults are still happening. The Army ought to lean hard on their own slogan and do “whatever it takes” to make sure women and men serving our country aren’t being assaulted. Until then, the enemy is within the gates. Get ’em out!