The association between self-reported lifetime history of forced sexual intercourse and recent health-risk behaviors: findings from the 2003 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey

J Adolesc Health. 2006 Nov;39(5):752.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.06.001. Epub 2006 Aug 30.


Purpose: To expand the understanding of the association between recent health-risk behaviors and a history of forced sexual intercourse, using a nationally representative sample of female and male high school students.

Methods: Data were from the 2003 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a nationally representative biennial survey of U.S. high school students. Lifetime history of forced sex, recent physical dating violence, and health-risk behaviors (substance use, diet-related behaviors, violence-related behaviors, and health promoting behaviors) were assessed. Analyses were stratified by gender and controlled for grade and race/ethnicity.

Results: Of students surveyed, 8.9% reported ever being forced to have sex. One in eight females and one in 16 males experienced forced sex in their lifetime. For females and males, a history of forced sex was associated with experiencing physical dating violence and suicidal ideation in the 12 months preceding the survey and with substance use in the previous 30 days. Female victims were not as likely as female nonvictims to have participated in team sports during the previous 12 months. Male victims were more likely than male nonvictims to have fasted for more than 24 hours to lose weight during the previous 30 days.

Conclusions: A lifetime history of forced sex is associated with recent dating violence and participation in unhealthy behaviors. Services and intervention programs for victimized youth should address health concerns that have been linked to sexual assault. Such programs would provide opportunities for early intervention with lasting implications for improved health.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States