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, 104 (6), e19-26

The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions


The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions

Lara Stemple et al. Am J Public Health.


We assessed 12-month prevalence and incidence data on sexual victimization in 5 federal surveys that the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted independently in 2010 through 2012. We used these data to examine the prevailing assumption that men rarely experience sexual victimization. We concluded that federal surveys detect a high prevalence of sexual victimization among men-in many circumstances similar to the prevalence found among women. We identified factors that perpetuate misperceptions about men's sexual victimization: reliance on traditional gender stereotypes, outdated and inconsistent definitions, and methodological sampling biases that exclude inmates. We recommend changes that move beyond regressive gender assumptions, which can harm both women and men.


Twelve-month sexual victimization prevalence (percentage) among adult population (noninstitutionalized) from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010, and among adult and juvenile detainees from the National Inmate Survey 2011–2012 and the National Survey of Youth in Custody, 2012: United States. aAmong the 5 federal agency surveys we reviewed, only NISVS collected lifetime prevalence, limiting our ability to compare lifetime data across surveys. It found lifetime prevalence for men as follows: made to penetrate = 4.8%, rape = 1.4%, sexual coercion = 6.0%, and unwanted sexual contact = 11.7%. For women: rape = 18.3%, sexual coercion = 13.0%, and unwanted sexual contact = 27.2%. bFemale detainees are significantly more likely to be sexually victimized by fellow detainees than are males; a presumably same-sex pattern of abuse that runs counter to the male perpetrator/female victim paradigm.
Annual incidents of sexual victimization from the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the National Crime Victim Survey (NCVS), 2012; the National Inmate Survey-2, 2008–2009; and the National Survey of Youth in Custody 2008–2009: United States. Note. We calculated the sex of victims in NCVS using the publicly available Victimization Analysis Tool We generated a rough estimate of the number of annual incidents of sexual victimization in jails, prisons, and juvenile detention facilities by sex, using the 2008–2009 data, the most recent publicly available data on repeat incidents. (Repeat incidents were not reported in detail in 2011–2012.) To arrive at this, we multiplied a flow-adjusted number of detainees who reported at least one sexual victimization incident by the mean number of incidents of sexual victimization reported per victimized detainee. The flow-adjusted number of victims corrects for persons moving in and out of facilities during the 12-month sampling. The US Department of Justice Regulatory Impact Assessment of PREA55 provides a flow-adjusted prevalence estimate of sexual victimization. The NIS-2 and NSYC report on the number of incidents of victimization as a range; we used the middle of the range. NISVS findings are not included because data on number of incidents have not been made public. aMen were excluded from the definition of rape.

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