CDC report: One in 16 US women were forced into having sex for the first time

TW, as they say.

New Scientist has some hard numbers on some difficult truths, offering data on just how many women lost their virginity in a way that they considered “not voluntary”:

The figure comes from an analysis of a regular national survey of health and family life carried out by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Laura Hawks of Harvard Medical School and colleagues analysed the responses from 13,000 women aged between 18 and 44 who answered the survey in the past eight years. About 6.5 per cent said that their first experience of vaginal sex with a man wasn’t voluntary. The researchers used the term “forced” for those who answered “not voluntary”.

About half of these respondents said they had been held down. About a quarter had been physically harmed and a quarter physically threatened – although there was overlap between the groups.

About half reported being verbally pressured, such as being told the relationship would end unless they had sex, and a fifth said they had been given alcohol or drugs.

Even when no physical coercion was used, the average age of women forced into sex was 15 and the average age of men was 27, says Hawks.

A previous version of the survey in 1995 found a slightly higher prevalence of forced first-time sex at 9 per cent. This research involved a younger age group of 15 to 24 year olds and the question was worded slightly differently.

You can read the research “assessing the prevalence of forced sex during girls’ and women’s first sexual encounter” here, in JAMA.