National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010

NB! Updated to fix a stupid math mistake which TMK was kind enough to point out to me in a comment.

I have referred and talked about the NISVS 2010 Report in more comments than I can recall, here is one of them from a promising, but in the end unfruitful dialogue with a British feminist on Reddit:

Ok, I’ll guide you through the parts of the NISVS 2010 Report related to men being made to penetrate someone else.

You’ll first need the complete report , not just the press release or the executive summary.

Look at page 17. there the CDC lists up the definitions they use for the different categories of sexual violence reported in the report. Although CDC didn’t, I’ll assume you’re a decent human being and that you would agree that the definition of “being made to penetrate someone else” qualifies as rape just as much as the definition of rape CDC used. The two definitions are practically equal in language, except that for rape the victim must be penetrated. I’ll make an example: Forcing a woman to insert her tongue into the perpetrators anus would not be considered rape by the CDC’s definitions. That would be “being made to penetrate someone else”.

Already now you should be able to guess as to why the numbers (1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men) of rape victims you quoted from the report in my views skew the real numbers. Let’s try to amend that by counting “being made to penetrate someone else” as rape despite CDC not doing so (I’ll get back to two theories as to why CDC didn’t).

In short, in everything that follows I’ll count “being made to penetrate someone else” as rape. Please state if you disagree with that, and if so, please explain why.

Now look at tables 2.1 and 2.2 on pages 18-19. Table 2.1 is prevalence numbers for female victims of the different categories of sexual violence. Table 2.2 is the same table for male victims.

There are two column groups: Lifetime and “Last 12 months”, each having a “weighted %”-column and an “Estimated number of victims”-column.

Let’s look at the lifetime numbers first: 18.3% of women reports rape – that nearly 1 in 5. 1.4% of men reports rape – that’s 1 in 71.

but the story doesn’t end there: 4.8% of men reports “being made to penetrate someone else” – that’s nearly 1 in 20.

I can’t just add 4.8 and 1.4 to get 6.2% of men raped as I don’t know how many, if any, men reported both – then they should be counted only once as this counts victims and not incidents. So I’ll just use the 4.8 number as stand in for male rape although I know it probably is somewhere between 4.8 and 6.2.

By these numbers we will out of a pool of 100 men and 100 women we’ll find 20 female victims and 5 male victims.

That gives that every 4th 5th rape victim is a man (20/5=4) 5/(5+20)

98.2% of the female rape victims state that the perpetrator was a man (which probably implies that 1,8% of the perpetrators were a woman). 79.2% of the male victims of being made to penetrate someone else reports that the perpetrator was a woman (page 24). Which makes 20% of the perpetrators a man. That means that 4 out of 5 rapists of men are women. Which again would mean that 1 in every 5 1 in every 5.25 (4/(4+21)) rape victim alive is a man raped by a woman.

Do you think the current public discourse, the rape prevention programs, the feminists discussion on rape and so on reflects this finding in any way? What does this make repeating the old adage “99% of rapists are men” as many feminists does when the subject of male rape is brought up? Doesn’t it amount to minimizing? Erasing? Denial?

That was the lifetime numbers, now let’s look at the “last 12 months” columns in those two tables: 1.1% of women reports rape in the last 12 months. 1.1% of men reports having been made to penetrate someone else in the last 12 months.

Of all rape victims victimized In the last 12 months every second rape victim was a man.

Now, the report doesn’t provide us with perpetrator statistics for the last 12 months numbers, but if one assume that it’s about the same distribution as it is for lifetime numbers then about 40% of rape victims in the last 12 months were raped by a woman.

And if that wasn’t bad enough: Consider that this survey did not survey prisoners. According to BJS more than a quarter of sexual abuse of male prisoners are perpetrated by female prisoner officials. It’s even worse for juvenile detentions.

So given that there in 2009 very likely were more male victims of rape/attempted rape than female victims and that 1 in every 4th rape victim alive is a man I find that the words rare about male victims as compared to female victims to be terribly offensive. Women are about 1 in 4 of homicide victims (source). What would you think if someone stated “men are the overwhelming majority of murder victims”, “female murder victims are extremely rare” and so on whenever someone brings up a case with a female murder victims, or state that women are murdered too?

So it looks like sexual violence against men is on the rise – what do you think are the factors behind this? More willingness to report?

According to NISVS 2010 there are a much lower ratio between the lifetime numbers and the “last 12 months” number for men than for women. I think there are several factors for this:

1) Research have shown that men are less likely to report childhood sexual abuse than women.

2) Perhaps women feel more entitled to sex these days and more empowered to initiate sex more often. And as a result they fail to obtain consent more often.

3) Men have become more aware of the issue, not least thanks to places like this sub.

4) Research on this subject doesn’t get away as easy with being sexist and prejudiced.

I’ll expand a bit on point 4. One example is the NISVS 2010 Report itself in the way it categorized “being made to penetrate someone else”. That choice most certainly was influenced by feminist Mary P Koss who has served on advisory boards in the CDC in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. She wrote a paper in 1993 on methodologies for measuring rape prevalence where she stated:

Although consideration of male victims is within the scope of the legal statutes, it is important to restrict the term rape to instances where male victims were penetrated by offenders. It is inappropriate to consider as a rape victim a man who engages in unwanted sexual intercourse with a woman.


Among men, the terms “sex” and “sexual relations” may activate schemas for situations where they penetrated women. Clarification is necessary to ensure that male respondents realize that the situations of interest are those in which they were penetrated forcibly and against their will by another person, and not situations where they felt pressure or coercion to have sexual relations with a woman partner.

  1. If men and boys are to be included, care must be taken to ensure that their data are accurate counterparts of rape prevalence among women. This means that men must be reporting instances where they experienced penetration of their own bodies (or attempts).

There exists other studies from the 1990’s which found that about 50% more men than women reported unwanted sexual intercourse. Those studies did not pick up any traction, while Koss’ studies – the most famous being the one published in 1985 with Ms Magazine – which completely ignored male victims. (Male respondents were asked whether they had forced someone to sex while not being asked whether they themselves had been forced to sex).

And so the impression that male rape is rare is created and cemented. And I don’t see any real effort from feminists to change this. I haven’t seen any feminists (with the exception of ballgame from FeministCritics – but it must be noted that he has been called an anti-feminist on several other feminist blogs) do the break-down of the NISVS 2010 Report I did. It’s not that no feminists wrote about NISVS 2010, several did. No-one mentioned the last 12 months numbers and when they are brought in the comments fields by me or other we are called MRAs and accused for cherry-picking numbers. In my view if someone point out the numbers you “forgot” it’s not them who are cherry-picking.


6 thoughts on “National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010

  1. Figured you would find this interesting:

    Statens Barnehus i Trondheim erfarer at kvinner står for omtrent 40 % av sakene om vold mot barn. Både fungerende politimester, Marit Fostervold Johansen i Sør-Trøndelag politidistrikt og leder ved Statens Barnehus i Trondheim, Helle Leinslie sier at utøvelse av vold ikke handler om kjønn først og fremst, men at det handler vel så mye om hvordan man velger å løse konflikter i familien.

  2. I didnt know you had your own blog. Yes, i sort of expect you to pop up with links and lenghty post about statistics whenever i encounter blog post about the issue. Which is good.

    In any case, the reason for my comment is different – a minor nitpick: 5 and 20 means that it is one out of 5, not out of 4:

    should be: 5/(5+20)

  3. Pingback: NISVS 2011 Released – Increased Male Victimization And Rape Is Still Not Rape | Tamen's writings
  4. Pingback: NISVS 2011 Released – Increased Male Victimization And Rape Is Still Not Rape (NoH) | Feminist Critics
  5. Pingback: NISVS 2011 released: Increased male victimization and rape is still not rape

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