Rape in the 50 States
The National Women's Study (NWS) was a large epidemiological research project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) which investigated the occurrence and characteristics of forcible rape experiences occurring any time in a woman’s lifetime. The basic design involved identification and assessment of two national household probability samples of adult women: 1) a sample of all women age 18 or older (n=2,008) and 2) an oversample of younger women (n=2,000) between the ages of 18 and 34. Participants were assessed about a variety of topics including history of physical and sexual assault, other traumatic events, posttraumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug use/abuse/dependence, major depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, sexual harassment, eating disorders, and tobacco use. Three waves of assessment were conducted via telephone, with Wave II occurring one year after the initial assessment and Wave III occurring two years after Wave I.
The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) was also a victimization survey of adult women. Telephone interviews were conducted in 1995-1996 with a national household probability sample of 8,000 women in the United States at least 18 years of age. Rape screening questions used in the NVAWS were virtually identical to the questions used in the NWS; however, unlike the NWS, major mental health problems were not examined in the NVAWS.
Using the results from both the NWS and NVAWS, researchers carefully estimated the prevalence of rape in each of the 50 United States. Having accurate information about the magnitude and nature of the rape problem at the state level is extremely important for policymakers, as well as for those who attempt to prevent rape or to provide services to rape victims and survivors.
Included in each report is:
- An estimate of the number and percentage of adult women in that state who have ever been raped
- A comparison of the magnitude of the problem in that state with that of the nation at large.
- A discussion of factors that increase women and children’s risk of being attacked by a rapist.
- Suggestions about some key elements of a well-designed victimization survey and suggestions for researchers who decide to conduct a victimization survey.
These reports were completed in the first half of 2003. All reports are in PDF format.
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