US/World

Study Finds 1 In 16 US Women Say Rape Was Their First Sexual Experience

A new study provided a shocking number of women who were victims of sexual violence in the U.S. One in every 16 American women said rape was their first sexual intercourse.

That rate covers more than 3.3 million women ages 18 to 44 across the country. Researchers said all demographic groups in the study experienced forced sexual initiation.

The World Health Organization describes such activity as "an unwanted first sexual intercourse that is physically forced or coerced." The new study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests forced sex "appears to be common" in the U.S.

"We feel it is accurate to describe these events as rape," Laura Hawks, study co-author and a primary care physician and research fellow at Harvard Medical School, said. 

The study involved more than 13,300 women, aged 18 to 44, who were involved in the National Survey of Family and Growth from 2011 to 2017. Researchers found that the average age of women who experienced forced sexual initiation was 15.6 years old. 

Nearly 50 percent of women in the study described the perpetrator as larger or older than them. Majority of the forced sexual initiations involved verbal pressure by men, followed by physical threats and harm or being drugged, CNN reported Tuesday

“Any sexual encounter (with penetration) that occurs against somebody's will is rape,” Hawks said. “If somebody is verbally pressured into having sex, it's just as much rape.”

Another surprising finding in the study is that women continued to face problems after the incident. Some victims contracted HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, developed endometriosis and suffered menstrual problems and pelvic inflammatory disease. 

Over 30 percent of the women had an unwanted first pregnancy. The rates of abortion was higher among women who experienced forced sexual initiation, covering 24 percent of the respondents, compared to those whose first sexual intercourse was voluntary.

"A practicing physician is likely to see several patients each week who have experienced this form of trauma," the researchers said. 

The team suggested that doctors create tools that would determine the women who were victims of forced sex or rape and provide a new approach to help them. 

Woman A woman looks at the city through the window. Pixabay

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