A new study published in The Journal of Adolescent Health confirms that about 1 in 5 college women experience rape or attempted rape on campus. Professor Kate Carey of Brown University’s School of Public Health surveyed 483 women at a university in upstate New York, and just over 18 percent of them said they had been raped, or had had an attempt at rape perpetrated against them, in their first year at college.
Carey distinguishes between “incapacitated rape” (attempted or completed) and “forcible rape” (attempted or completed). She found that during their first year of college, 15 percent of women reported the former and 9 percent reported the latter. It gets worse. Once Carey asked about lifetime prevalence of sexual violence — from the age of 14 until the start of sophomore year — 26 percent said they had experienced incapacitated rape, and 22 percent had experienced forcible rape.
That’s over one in three women in a college class who’ve experienced sexual violence by the time their college careers are one quarter over.
Those eager to underestimate the severity of the campus sexual violence problem will argue that this school might not be representative of the nation’s campuses, and certainly there have been many efforts over the last decade to debunk findings that about 1 in 5 college women experience sexual assault. While these new numbers are the figures for just one school and the prevalence likely varies across campuses, Carey notes, “The estimates that have been generated over recent years have been remarkably consistent, if not in the precise numbers, then in the general proportion of the population.”
Rest on feministing, where this piece was first published.