College Rape Crisis Is at 'Epidemic Levels'

Nearly 1 in 5 women attacked in their freshman year: Brown study
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2015 6:10 PM CDT
College Rape Crisis Is at 'Epidemic Levels'
A graphic of the study's findings.   (Brown University)

"Both incapacitated and forcible sexual assaults and rape have reached epidemic levels among college women," reads a study out of Brown University. It finds that nearly one in five—18.6%—college women are the victim of either a completed or attempted rape during their freshman year alone. "It's an important transition year," says lead author Kate Carey of Brown's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies in a post at Eureka Alert. The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, surveyed 483 women in the freshman class of an unnamed college in upstate New York. Among the specifics:

  • 9% reported an attempted or completed forcible rape; 15.4% reported an attempted or completed rape while incapacitated. Some women reported multiple events.

  • 18% had suffered an incapacitated rape or attempt since age 14 and before college; that number was 15% for forcible rape or attempt. By sophomore year, those numbers were 26% and 22%, respectively.
  • Women who were raped before college were more likely to be raped in their freshman year, notes Medical News Today.
  • All told, 37% reported at least one rape or attempted rape between age 14 and sophomore year.
"If you swap in any other physically harmful and psychologically harmful event, a prevalence of 15% would be just unacceptably high," says Carey. "If 15% of our young people were breaking their legs in their first year of school, we would expect that the community would enhance the safety of the environment." (Meanwhile, Emma Sulkowicz, who carried a mattress around Columbia University this year in protest of the school's decision not to kick out her alleged rapist, took her mattress to graduation.)

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