One of these things is not like the other

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. The researchers conducted the survey during 2010, and according to the results:

Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner. One in six women have been stalked, according to the report.

“That almost one in five women have been raped in their lifetime is very striking and, I think, will be surprising to a lot of people,” said Linda C. Degutis, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the survey.

“I don’t think we’ve really known that it was this prevalent in the population,” she said.

The survey was based on the National Women’s Victimization Survey, hence the similar. Like the NWVS, the NIPSVS found that sexual violence against women were epidemic while virtually non-existent against males. With such results, it is hardly surprising that Hugo Schwyzer would use the CDC’s new results to challenge my previous article on the Good Men Project Magazine.

Last month GMP ran my article about the prevalence of women’s sexual violence against boys. Schwyzer did not like, objecting to it in the comments and twitter-beefing with James Landrith over what Schwyzer called “Most dishonest thing I’ve see at @goodmenproject”. The CDC results must have been a godsend because Schwyzer wasted no time with trying to refute seven different articles and studies showing a high rate of female-on-male sexual violence.

I cannot help but feel that Schwyzer did not expect anyone to actually read the CDC report. Schwyzer stated:

Despite recent claims about a proliferation of female rapists, the CDC found that “male rape victims and male victims of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences reported predominantly male perpetrators.”

This was just a thinly veiled insult aimed at me. I made no “claims.” I cited several well-researched articles and studies that showed a high prevalence of female-on-male sexual violence. Granted, either he or some other editor conveniently removed the links to those sources, but one can easily find the papers and studies online.

Secondly, the CDC researchers defined rape as:

-Among women, rape includes vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes vaginal or anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.

-Among men, rape includes oral or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also
includes anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.

According to that definition, women cannot rape men or women by forcing the victims to penetrate them. They cannot rape men by forcibly performing oral sex on the victims. The researchers instead created a separate definition called “being made to penetrate someone else” that is not counted as rape. The final 1 in 71 statistic, a stat that does not match any recent studies’ rate for sexual violence against males, specifically excludes the majority of sexually violent acts, most of which legally count as rape in most states. Indeed, the researchers explained this difference in the discussion:

As an example of prevalence differences between the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey and other surveys, the lifetime prevalence estimate of rape for men in this report is lower than what has been reported in other surveys (e.g., for forced sex more broadly) (Basile, Chen, Black, & Saltzman, 2007). This could be due in part to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey making a distinction between rape and being made to penetrate someone else. Being made to penetrate is a form of sexual victimization distinct from rape that is particularly unique to males and, to our knowledge, has not been explicitly measured in previous national studies. It is possible that rape questions in prior studies captured the experience of being made to penetrate someone else, resulting in higher prevalence estimates for male rape in those studies.

Take a moment read the quote again. The researchers first note that being forced to penetrate someone is something generally done to males. However, according to the researchers, being forced to penetrate someone is not rape and should never count as rape. They know their results for male victimization are ridiculously low, and indeed lower than any other recent study, and yet the researchers explain this away by saying that the other studies mistakenly counted forcing males to penetrate someone else as rape.

If one needed an example of the kind of sexism at play in researching sexual violence, one can get no better than the above quote.

As for Schwyzer’s article, I noticed that he did not quote anything directly from the study, and perhaps this is why:

For male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual violence experienced. The majority of male rape victims (93.3%) reported only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%). For non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, approximately half of male victims (49.0%) reported only male perpetrators and more than one-third (37.7%) reported only female perpetrators (data not shown).

That data suggests that women commit far more sexual violence against males that people think, which oddly coincides with the “recent claims about a proliferation of female rapists.” Please note, I am not manipulating the data. The above information is on page 24 of the report. Also keep in mind that with the exception of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, all of the above act legally count as rape in most states with rape statutes.

Schwyzer also stated that boys under 10 face the greatest risk of sexual violence, yet according to the researchers:

More than one-quarter of male victims of completed rape (27.8%) were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger (data not shown). With the exception of the youngest age category (i.e., age 10 or younger), the estimates for age at first completed rape for male victims in the other age groups were based upon numbers too small to calculate a reliable estimate and therefore are not reported.


Too few men reported rape victimization in adulthood to examine rape victimization as a minor and subsequent rape victimization in adulthood.

In other words, they did not have enough data from male victims to figure out a reliable estimate. That seems to occur so often with the sexual violence data that it makes the results questionable. It seems possible that the male respondents underreported their abuse, but that the researchers’ own methodology — not their the questions, which are surprisingly neutral, but the way the researchers compiled the data — may have skewed the results.

Schwyzer also stated:

Close to 50% of all stalking victimizations that men experienced were also perpetrated by men.

That implies that most of the people who stalk men are women. Framing it as he did veils the amount of stalking women commit. Here is what the report actually states:

Among male stalking victims, almost half (44.3%) reported being stalked by only male perpetrators while a similar proportion (46.7%) reported being stalked by only female perpetrators. About 1 in 18 male stalking victims (5.5%) reported having been stalked by both male and female perpetrators in his life (data not shown).

The intellectual dishonesty displayed in Schwyer’s article was exactly what I was talking about in my article. Here we have a study that states that if a man or woman performs oral sex on a girl or forcibly penetrates her, it is rape, but if those same people perform oral sex on a boy or force him to penetrate them, it is not rape. For someone to then selectively report that problematic data when it does not support their position is the height of dishonesty. Schwyzer did not just misinform readers about the report’s results for male victims of sexual violence and stalking, but he also failed to note that 1 in 4 men reported being victims of domestic violence (compared to 1 in 3 women).

However, to pretend to then care about male victims as one deliberately withholds information about sexual and physical violence against them is the very definition of hypocrisy. To this point, Schwyzer claimed that:

It can’t be said often enough: men are victims too. Male suffering in the aftermath of sexual assault is as real and profound as what women endure.

I do not know anyone who genuinely cares about male survivors who would ever use a study to deny that women can rape or commit any violence against males. When Schwyzer can make the above quoted statement without following it up with a “but only men commit rape” comment, then male survivors will believe him rather than rightly assuming that he finds our suffering bogus and trivial, and that he said otherwise just to look good.

Nevertheless, despite all the researchers’ definition shenanigans and the possibility that males underreported, the data still suggests that women commit more physical, sexual, and emotional violence against men than people think. All the sound and fury in the world will not change that, and anyone trying to wastes their time doing something that ultimately signifies nothing.

77 thoughts on “One of these things is not like the other

  1. You assume that some read it at all! P^)

    There is an odd correlation between some news media opp ed and the reported content – which was not quoted from the Original Report or even the easy read abridged summary.

    Citation requires consideration of source material – comment only requires knowledge of it’s existence.

  2. I wish people would get away from “gender specific” violence; period! How many are or aren’t violated means nothing to the one who is violated. I have met many male, female, transgender, lesbian, bisexual survivors of child sexual abuse as well as adult abuse and in my experience the end result is pretty similar. We are all trying to heal and it is very painful! Sometimes, we get support and sometimes, we don’t. Some of us go to court; some don’t. Some of us endure major relationship issues, some of us don’t. We are “all of us” when it comes to this horrendous betrayal of trust, period!
    Carol Crocker
    Brampton, ON

  3. Good article. In forums requiring shorter forms one could point people at the “Last 12 months” columns in the tables on page 18 and 19 and also point the to the definition of rape and “made to penetrate someone else” on page 17. That is going to upset many peoples belief system (and it really shouldn’t be a belief system in the first place!).

    Considering that the survey only had non-institutionalised respondents (no inmates surveyed) that means that today a random man is more likely to be raped than a random woman in the US.

    The only way of refuting this is to claim that the definition for “made to penetrate someone else” which the CDC uses does not constitute rape (hint: it does constitute rape in criminal law in the country I live in) and that would be a loosing argument.

  4. Pingback: Male feminist Hugo Schwyzer in rape cover-up on The Good Men Project, again. « ACatalogueofLies

  5. Question that someone better at interpreting this sort of data might be able to help with: The study says that the 13% of women and 6% of men report “sexual coercion” at some point in their lifetimes. When asked to report for the last twelve months, however, the percentages reporting sexual coercion are 2.0% for women and 1.5% per men- the reported female victimization rate goes from being more than 100% higher than the male rate to only about 33% more, a much smaller difference. For “unwwanted sexual contact,” the lifetime reported female and male rates are 27.2% and 11.7% respectively, so the female lifetime rate is well over twice that of men- but when you look at the 12-months figures for the same category the male victimization rate is actually higher than women’s! (There is no 12-month figure for raped men or women “forced to penetrate,” so comparison there isn’t possible.)

    What could cause such a discrepancy? If these figures are accurate, they would seem to indicate that males are much less likely than girls to be sexually victimized as children, producing the much higher female lifetime reported rate, and that their risk of being the victim of sexual aggression actually GROWS a great deal, at least in relative terms, in adulthood to produce the narrowed or inverted 12-month gap.

    That seems improbable, especially in light of the fact that the survey excluded people in prison, which makes me wonder what’s actually going on here. I know memory can be highly malleable; is it possible that men are more likely than women to misremember something they did not consent to as consensual, or forget about it entirely, as it recedes from the immediate into the more distant past, or something like that?

  6. That seems improbable, especially in light of the fact that the survey excluded people in prison

    While the results excluded inmates, we do not know if any of the people who reported abuse were counting acts committed against them in prison.

    I know memory can be highly malleable; is it possible that men are more likely than women to misremember something they did not consent to as consensual, or forget about it entirely, as it recedes from the immediate into the more distant past, or something like that?

    I think it is more likely that they either did not want to report the acts or did not consider the acts non-consensual. It is not uncommon for male victims to frame their abuse as consensual or not view it as abuse. It is also possible that the more recent accounts involve younger males, who in turn may be more likely to talk about their abuse. If you look at the age breakdown, most of the respondents were middle-aged. Men of that age, in their late 30s to early 50s, might be less likely to admit any abuse. Either way, the difference in the lifetime and 12-month numbers is such that I cannot understand why the researchers did not try to breakdown the data and figure out why they got higher recent numbers.

  7. “The study says that the 13% of women and 6% of men report “sexual coercion” at some point in their lifetimes.”

    @John…The older demographic would be far less likely to understand their experience to be sexual coercion. This will distort longer term analyses.

  8. I don’t have time to track it down, but a common issue is men very often don’t judge early sexual experiences to be abusive or unusual. I hear that frequently from men. So you can’t simply ask “Were you abused?” They may believe it was consensual if they experienced pleasure, erections or force wasn’t used. How questions are asked is part of it. So, why then did the ACE study come up with 38% female perpetrators of males (17,000 adults surveyed and tracked since 1995)? I’m wondering how the questioning was done differently. There are ways to do this, but it’s not so simple.

  9. @John…

    While not to the same extent it can apply to women too. My youngest sister – about 45 currently – described an event from when she was sixteen which I considered a pretty serious attempted rape. She just shrugs it off and is unwilling to label it that way. I suspect she’s a bit proud of the way she dealt with the situation. I can only say good for her. Well done little sister. My mother, who really did have a brutal experience, won’t go anywhere near counselling. She’s incapable of understanding that psychological damage exists even though she’s mobile exhibit of symptomology. My father and I are both very protective.

    The gendered difference in perspective still creates a big gap.

  10. Allan, the CDC report listed the questions in the appendix. You should read them and see if they are any different from the type of questions the ACE study used.

  11. What i don’t understand is hugo presents statistics and expects to convince people. People then refute statistics making all those statistics he cited invalid. He then doesn’t change his stance or beliefs. Why is anyone taking the guy seriously?

  12. I don’t understand how someone can consistently misinterpret statistics like that. He is either incompetent or dishonest.

  13. John Markely: Look at the tables again and this time move the “Made to penetrate someone” category into the “Rape” category. Then 1.1% of both men and women have been raped the last 12 months! Read the definition of “Made to penetrate someone” on page 17 to see that at least in my opinion that category should be included in the rape category. Even the criminal law where I live would classify it as such (in wording at least).

  14. Allen

    The ACE study questions are rather simple and straight forward – you can check the questions here

    One of the simple differences in methodology is to be gender neutral. If you assume only women suffer rape you only ask women any questions. If you assume that only men rape you don’t ask for other information – or if it does come up, your recording methods don’t allow it to be recorded so the Data just gets lost and ignored.

    It’s called bad design and bad methodology. Peer reviewing had picked up the flaws, but there has then been criticism of the questions raised – rather than the questions being answered.

  15. Toysoldier – there is little correlation between the CDC Questions and The ACE questions – they are in quite different formats.

    The two studies do share a common methodology of Gender Neutrality – which in a number of areas the CDC study fails in. The ACE study is consistently Gender Neutral – the questions are written to seek definitions and not impose them.

    The ACE study has a better methodology and is basically a far higher quality study.

    CDC does look at life time experience – the ACE study is better at looking at childhood experience.

  16. As an example – the CDC questioning expects the person being asked to understand the questions and the studies intent. The question of consent is assumed to be understood.

    In ACE they do it this way:

    Some people, while growing up in their first 18 years of life, had a sexual experience with an adult or someone at least five years older than themselves. These experiences may have involved a relative family friend or stranger. During the first 18 years of life, did an adult or older relative, family friend or stranger ever:

    Touch or fondle your body in a sexual way?
    If “Yes”:

    The first time, did this happen against your wishes?

    There can be no consent – but they don’t assume that the person understands or understood that at the time. They ask questions and don’t assume.

    They also ask for the gender of the perp – it’s not assumed.

    On a basic level the ACE study has been designed to find information – not find information that fits and agenda where the agenda is used to design the questions.

  17. “Either way, the difference in the lifetime and 12-month numbers is such that I cannot understand why the researchers did not try to breakdown the data and figure out why they got higher recent numbers.”

    Well it does allow them to claim they need to extend the study and need extra funding to do it! Cynical I know – but all too true in the world of research.

  18. I’ll post my GMP comment here, because I’m fearing the heavy hand of the “moderators”…

    It seems the CDC is reputable when people agree with their findings…

    Ironically, the CDC is the source ( of the study that Hugo dismisses as “an outlier” here when drawing attention to its finding that:

    “Contact CSA (Child Sexual Abuse) was reported by 16% of males and 25% of females. Men reported female perpetration of CSA nearly 40% of the time, and women reported female perpetration of CSA 6% of the time. ”

    And I might turn the tables again, by asking, why does the gender of the victim merit such focus and emphasis? Don’t we care about ALL victims of sexual violence EQUALLY? Why must we design prevention around the gender of the perpetrator? But this is what Lisa says in an article about women raping boys:

    “What saddens me is why it has to be about the numbers and why it has to be about gender. Sexual violence is violence, with sex used as a weapon.” (

    It saddens me too. Pitting victims against victims, making a “hierarchy of sympathy” where some victims are seen and other fight invisibility hurts everyone. It saddens me too because I’ve lead a group for male victims of sexual assault several years now and I hear of victimization by females at about this rate. So do clinicians who work with male victims ( These men struggle terribly and get very rare validation of their feelings. That is extremely damaging. Read the stories of men raped by women. It’s all on-line if you want to really know:

    There’s an agenda here that’s preventing the most effective action fighting sexual violence. It will stop being about gender when we start listening to the victims and believe them. Much like at Penn State, many issues get in the way of hearing victims.

  19. I don’t understand how someone can consistently misinterpret statistics like that. He is either incompetent or dishonest.

    It is because Schwyzer uses statistics the way a drunkard uses a lamppost — for support rather than illumination. I absolutely think he engages in intellectual dishonest, hence the reason I consider him a hypocrite.

  20. It’s called bad design and bad methodology. Peer reviewing had picked up the flaws, but there has then been criticism of the questions raised – rather than the questions being answered.

    I also think the problem lies in how the researchers compiled the data. The results they have show a much higher rate of female-on-male sexual violence than anyone expects, yet the researchers chose to define those acts as only “other sexual violence” rather than rape.

    Toysoldier – there is little correlation between the CDC Questions and The ACE questions – they are in quite different formats.

    I do not think there is any correlation between the two sets of questions, but I do think that the answer for why they got different results lies in what they asked and how the researchers chose to frame the data.

  21. I noted that questions around the CDC report questioned the inclusion/exclusion of Prison Inmates.

    I was wondering if there was an Inclusion/exclusion that also linked to military personnel?

    The Military’s Secret Shame

    When men in the military rape other men in the ranks, no one wants to talk about it. Why the sexual assault of males in the service is finally being confronted.

    Last year (2010) nearly 50,000 male veterans screened positive for “military sexual trauma” at the Department of Veterans Affairs, up from just over 30,000 in 2003. For the victims, the experience is a special kind of hell—a soldier can’t just quit his job to get away from his abusers.

  22. “…yet the researchers chose to define those acts as only “other sexual violence” rather than rape.”

    That is a political move – given that so many government departments are fighting over a definition of rape so as to keep a distinction between US National law and International law.

    I have made that comment before concerning the International Criminal Court – Geneva Conventions – and how the definitions which are now used internationally would be adopted into US Federal and State laws if for example the International Criminal Court was fully ratified by the US.

    That of course raises hot potato(e)s over Iraq – Afghanistan and camp X-Ray Guantanamo.

    That the CDC have even included matters is actually a step forwards.

  23. “That is a political move …”

    MediaHound, you are awesome. You grind through information like Commander Data!

    So, are you saying liability for the actions of our military is part of the hesitation to adopt the ICC? The ICC definitions are more inclusive of behaviors termed “rape”?

  24. I couldn’t find the gender of the survey questioner. I would guess that would have an effect. I would wonder if men might hide sexual victimization from women more. IDK.

  25. Allan – I’m not awesome – just too experienced from 3 decades of the subject. I hate Politics which is why I know how it gets abused.

    Ref – ICC – definitions of rape – I did post about it

    It even cites the case law and relevant changes to the Geneva Conventions – International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) – Akayesu judgment.

    Ratification and adoption of the ICC requires standardization of national law with international law. Since Mr Bush (Jnr) refused to ratify the ICC to stop US Military Personnel having to be handed over to the ICC, it has also blocked the adoption of international law standards in to US law – it is a two way street. Rape has been defined and re-defined under ICC and other international law tribunals very widely.

    The US has to maintain a degree of separation in law from ICC – and one area that is occurring in is the definition of rape. Politics is a dirty business.

    The FBI will not consider rape by envelopment as it’s to close to the ICC and Geneva conventions. The CDC including it even as a separate definition is a step forward in American politics.

  26. I couldn’t find the gender of the survey questioner. I would guess that would have an effect. I would wonder if men might hide sexual victimization from women more. IDK.

    It could have a potential affect on the answers given, especially since these were phone interviews. Richard Gartner wrote about this in his book Betrayed As Boys, although it was about the gender of therapists. It really depends on the man and how comfortable he is discussing his experiences with members of the same sex or opposite sex. Some men feel more comfortable talking to women, and other talking to men.

  27. @ Toy Soldier

    I imagine it will reduce the number of male victims of female rapists who are willing to disclose their abuse.

    I wonder if that was deliberate.

    Or was it just a matter of ‘we don’t want to alienate any potential female victims of males’ by having male interviewers. Subtext: Who gives a shit about any other kind of victim.

  28. @TS…

    Our services give the option of therapist gender to all victims with surprising outcomes. One of the male counsellors told me recently of his continued surprise at how many female victims want a male counsellor.

    I’ve been encouraging the notion that clients be given the chance to spend time with counsellors of both sexes if they wish.

  29. Typhonblue, the CDC study was based on the National Women’s Victimization Survey, and that the NWVS specifically used male and female interviewers with male respondents to see if there was a difference in how men responded. The researchers found that there was a difference, but never listed what they found. However, they only had female interviews talk with women. If the CDC used a similar method, the method could have skewed the results for men.

  30. Gwallan, from what I have read, many survivors seek therapists who are the same sex as their abusers as a kind of catharsis. Sometimes, they just feel more comfortable around those people. I have had several female survivors tell me they prefer being around men even though they were abused by men.

  31. The reason for the discrepancy between last 12 months and lifetime figures is very simple: lifetime reports are notoriously inaccurate due to the faults of human memory. Here’s a selection of excerpts from the scientific literature on the subject:


    Methodological Research to Support the Redesign of the National Crime Victimization Survey Solicitation

    An Examination of a Twelve-Month Reference Period in the National Crime Victimization
    Survey (Competitive ID Number 2008-BJS-1834A)

    Previous research has shown that shorter reference periods (e.g. 3 months) are
    associated with greater respondent recall for events while lengthier recall periods (e.g.
    12 months) are more susceptible to a respondent forgetting an event. Additionally,
    longer reference periods are associated with increased respondent burden. Because
    respondents are asked to recall events over a longer period of time, individuals are
    asked to retrieve memories of more events over a longer frame of reference (National
    Research Council, 1976; Cantor and Lynch, 2000; Tournageau, Rips and Rasinski,
    2000). Historically the NCVS has used a six-month recall period to balance cost,
    efficiency and respondent burden in the generation of victimization estimates.


    The finding that forgetting was a function of the salience of the event to the person and the length of time since the event implied that smaller victimizations occurring further back in time were most fraught with reporting errors. The length of the reference period (the time from the start of the eligible time period for events to be in scope to the end of the period) and the length of the recall period (the time between the start of the in-scope period and the day of the interview) were issues that could affect the quality of reports. Longer periods yielded poorer reports (Miller and Groves, 1985; Czaja et al., 1994), generally a mix of forgetting and misdating events. The redesign recommended a 6-month reference period, a recommendation based on the findings of increased measurement error due to forgetting and telescoping in 12-month reference periods.


    Surveying Crime, By National Research Council (U.S.). Panel for the Evaluation of Crime Surveys, Maurice E. B. Owens

    “The extent of memory failure and the choice of an optimum reference period”, pg 34

    Retrospective surveys, in which respondents are asked about things that may have happened to them in the past, may be inaccurate, because respondents fail to remember the events in question or because (through deceit or misunderstanding) they simply fail to tell interviewers about them. In reverse record check studies – like those carried out in Washington, Baltimore, and San Jose – a sample is selected of persons who are known, from other data, to have had the experiences in question (in this case persons who have been recorded by the police as having reported a crime to them). Those persons are interviewed, and their responses are compared with that is known about them from other sources (in this case, police records).

    The reverse-record-check technique has been used to investigate recall, telescoping, and related phenomena in social surveys on many other subjects (for example, medical treatment and household expenditures). [8] Potentially, the technique is capable of validating survey responses, since it uses a sample drawn from those for whom there is an independent measure (in this case, police records) of what those responses refer to.

    The foregoing analysis, in terms of overall percentages of known incidents reported, ignores differences that were found in all three pretests in the “success” of the survey method, according to the reference period used and to the type of offense. In the Washington, D.C., pretest, whether a recalled incident was placed in the correct month varied according to the number of months between the incident and the interview: 73% of the incidents occurring 3 months before interview were reported to have occurrend in the correct month, compared with 60% of those taking place 6 months before the interview and 49% of those occurring 11 months earlier (see Table 3, Chapter 2).


    Telescoping was among the important issues investigated in the pretest studies conducted by LEAA and the Bureau of the Census; several kinds of evidence were collected on this point[22]… The results show a greater concentration of victimization reported as having occurred in the second 6 months of the reference period than in the first 6 months. This may be due, of course, to greater memory losses in the first half of the year, as well as to the telescoping of incidents into the second half of the year.

    [8] See, for example, Percy G. Gray, “The Memory Factor in Social Surveys,” Journal of the American Staistical Association 50 (1955): 344-63; W.P.D. Logan and E.M. Brooke, The Survey of Sickness, 1943 to 1952, General Register Office. Studies on Medical and Population Subjects (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1957). For a general discussion, see Seymour Sudman and Norman M. Bradburn, Response Effects in Surveys (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co., 1974), Chapter 3.


    Redesigning the National Crime Victimization Survey; Michael R. Rand; U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics

    Prior research has determined that longer survey reference periods are associated with increases in memory lapses associated with both remembering the occurrence of events as well as accurately recalling the details of events including when they actually occurred.


    Finkelhor (8) notes that “it is well-established in survey research that the validity of reports declines with the distance from the event.” Memory is basically a reconstructive process, and what is recalled depends upon our current beliefs and feelings (9-11). We literally “make up stories” about our lives and reality (9) and may even come to believe in memories of events that never happened (11).

    Raphael, Cloitre and Dohrenwend (12) report a study comparing ten months of concurrent monthly recall with a final retrospective recall using event checklists. The level of concordance was so low they conclude “… the results are devastating for the accuracy of reporting event categories.” Gerlsma, Emmelkamp and Arrindell (13), in their meta-analysis of parental rearing styles, comment on the dangers in retrospective data and discuss false accounts and fabricated accounts. Green and Hall (14) in discussing quantitative methods and dependent variables describe retrospective self-reports as especially tenuous.

    8. Finkelhor D: A Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse (Hardcover)(Paperback). Beverly Hills, Sage, 1986 [Back]

    9. Dawes RM: Rational Choice in an Uncertain World (Paperback). New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988 [Back]

    10. Loftus EF, Korf NL, Schooler JW: Misguided memories: sincere distortion of reality, in Credibility Assessment

    (Hardcover). Edited by Yuille JC. Boston, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989 [Back]

    11. Loftus E, Ketcham K: Witness for the Defense (Hardcover)(Paperback). New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1991 [Back]

    12. Raphael KG, Cloitre M, Dohrenwend BP: Problems of recall and misclassification with checklist methods of measuring stressful life events. Health Psychology 1991; 10:62-74

    13. Gerlsma C, Emmelkamp PM, Arrindell WA: Anxiety, depression and perception of early parenting: a meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review 1990; 10:251-277 [Back]

    14. Green BF, Hall JA: Quantitative methods for literature reviews. Annual Review of Psychology 1984; 35,37-53


    [l]ongitudinal follow-up of adults whose childhood abuse was documented has shown that their retrospective reports of such abuse are likely to underestimate actual occurrence.50,51

    50. Femina DD, Yeager CA, Lewis DO. Child abuse: adolescent records vs adult
    recall. Child Abuse Neglect 1990;14:227–31.
    51. Williams LM. Recovered memories of abuse in women with documented
    child sexual victimization histories. J Trauma Stress 1995;8:649 –73.


    Why discrepancy between “last year” and “lifetime” victimization?

    Dr. Malcolm George of the St Bartholomew’s and Royal London Hospital Medical School, author of Aggression in British Heterosexual Relationships, suggests:

    [T]he British Home Office study published 1999) showed that men do not report assaults that happened long ago. The break down of life time victims by how long ago was the last assault showed that women were far more likely to report that the last assault they experienced was more than ten years ago.

  32. A number of survivors will seek support from a person that is the same sex as the abuser.

    When I have asked about this the most common reason is that they are looking for validation that the abusers was abnormal in some way. The survivors are often seeking validation that not all men/women are abusers, and actively seeking ways to not be victimized by others who *claim* to be helpful.

    It’s the difference between Sympathy and Empathy.

  33. Men often question their masculinity, their male identity, and in a group of men, can really feel there are men like them, they are still a man, reduce their shame of being damaged as a man.

    Both genders have things to offer survivors of each gender. I wish it wasn’t so segregated. I’ve asked at rape centers about this, but haven’t gotten clear answers. It’s not clear what male and female survivors prefer, are asking for or are offered. It’s not clear what belief drives this if that’s the situation, although I suspect its the “sisters helping sisters”, men are all bad model.

  34. Mediahound: In the CDC report if one posits that “being made to penetrate someone” is in the same category as rape we get (as I’ve mentioned earlier) a parity in victimization of men (1.1%) and women (1.1%) if we look at the last 12 months number in the report (p. 18-19). Is this parity something we can put any stock in (statistically) in your opinion? I’m not sure if your criticism of the report invalidates that finding…

  35. “Is this parity something we can put any stock in (statistically) in your opinion?”

    Not sure if you are meaning stock in my opinion or the statistics? P^)

    Opinions and Statistics are just tools – they either the right tool for the job or they are not. No opinion is perfect and I have never yet seen any statistics that are either.

    Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
    Thomas Jefferson

    There is also the old saying – There are Lies – Damned Lies and Statistics.

    If you were to quote the CDC stats to express an opinion – I would quote them very honestly and openly and that includes any published error levels. I see none linked to tables 2.1 and 2.2 in the report. The figures are clear at face value. Whether they are accurate is a matter for the CDC to explain.

    It is also advisable when expressing opinion based upon stats to ask if you have read the report and the stats wrong. That then requires others to actually read the report and base stats before replying.

    If they reply in ways that show they have been lazy – they get called on it and even called out for Bigotry, Propaganda, Straw Person arguments, and even the classic of Ad Hominum.

    To quote another

    Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
    John F. Kennedy

    If they think it’s a good idea to start expressing opinion without thinking – I’m a great believer in using any discomfort as a lesson they should never forget. P^)

    Not sure if that is the answer you wanted – But it is what you’re getting! P^)

  36. Mediahound, I think what Tamen is asking is how we should look at the 12-month data. The numbers are very close if one counts being forced to penetrate as rape. The numbers suggest that women committed as much rape in 2010 as men, which flies in the face of the social expectations.

  37. Well designed and implemented studies are not created to deal with public expectation – they deal with reality.

    It would appear that the CDC study is well designed within it’s remit. I don’t think it;s perfect, and I do have queries about the weighting – but it is as published.

    If the findings fly in the face of Public or Social Expectations it says more about some people’s views and ideas than the findings. Some used to hold the view that the world was flat – and they had to deal with a few changes.

    I recall a recent Hullabaloo over some findings in New York – and some supposedly well socialized types who hate the findings. Maybe it’s their issue and not the stats.

    If they wish to fight – they can fight the CDC!

    I hear that the CDC are real nice chaps, and very social. P^)

    If anyone is concerned about using the stats – I would also advise using and quoting/referencing the CDC definitions of rape and sexual violence – page 17.

    I would also point out that historically definitions used in earlier studies have been both gender and sex biased, which has “skewed” results and resulted in incorrect social perceptions and beliefs.

    Looking at the data I can see the concerns about “Rape Culture” – as it indicates that there has been a major hidden issue for many years, and the effects of “Rape Culture” both on perpetrator profile and victim profile have been misunderstood and misapplied.

    You could call it a Cultural Cusp and the start of a Paradigm Shift!

    I fear that some will wish to deny the figures – which is their “privilege”, but it does not make them right.

  38. @ Tamen

    The answer is that the 12 month stats are far more likely to be accurate then the lifetime stats. (In fact it could be entirely possible that if we had a 3 month stat to go by, we’d find men more likely to be abused by women then the reverse. Consider that!)

    The reason why is because men don’t report incidents from the more distant past with any sort of reliability. (A study I looked at found as much. In fact it found that that men with *verified* histories of Child Sexual Abuse reported as much victimization as control samples. This means that if you ask a boy who had a documented case history of sexual abuse if he was abused when he grows up, he’ll, more likely then not, say no.)

    Of course the ‘lifetime risk’ allows them to maintain their polite fiction of greater female victimization by men. Which then allows them to justify creating ad campaigns that focus on ensuring a woman’s abuse by a man remains salient in her mind, which then creates the discrepancy between the ‘lifetime risk’ between men and women.

    I’m having some real trouble maintaining my faith in humanity at the moment.

  39. Mediahound, Jacoktk and Typhonblue:
    Thanks. The reasons why I asked is that although this result didn’t surprise me personally (increase in women’s sexual agency/assertiveness without a removal of the “rape is gendered” bias in rape prevention programs and rape discourse were bound to give this results sooner or later) I noticed that Mediahound sounded critical to some aspects of the and given that it’s almost two decades since my classes in statistics in College I wondered whether I should be aware if any caveats surrounding this particular statistics as I try to make them known on different blogs.

    Typhonblue, that surely is factor and probably a big one as well. But one shouldn’t dismiss the possibility that there also has been an increase in male victimization over time as women has gotten more sexual agency and that the difference in lifetime and last 12 months numbers in that case illustrate an extreme rise in male victimization numbers.

    Although they obfuscated the results the obfuscation is easily bypassed and easily explained so it’s easy to report this statistics in a short and concise manner (in contrast to this comment 🙂 ). The advice to always refer (and even quote I may add) the CDCs definitions of rape and “being made to penetrate someone else” is a sound one and I’ve done so.

  40. But one shouldn’t dismiss the possibility that there also has been an increase in male victimization over time as women has gotten more sexual agency and that the difference in lifetime and last 12 months numbers in that case illustrate an extreme rise in male victimization numbers.

    It is possible given the increased population, but it seems unlikely. In general, the rate of violence in society has decreased over time, and this is despite having more people around. It is more likely that more people are reporting abuse committed by women. Keep in mind that the majority of people who participated in the survey were middle-aged, most in their 30s to 50s. This group of people, particularly the men, might be less likely to view what happened to them as abuse. Also, these were phone interviews, many of them with callbacks. That could also have affected the results.

  41. Well, one does not exclude the other and I’ll bet you’re right about more people reporting abuse committed by women and that accounts for a major part of the discrepancy. I hope there will be more (neutral) studies examining this closer.

  42. @ Media Hound

    “.. and do you by any chance have the details of that study you alluded to? Please!”

    I do but for the life of me I can’t find it.

    I discussed it on the ‘No Seriously What About The Menz’ blog with (I believe) Daran, ballgame and blackhumor.

  43. I can attest to the greater recall if it’s shorter term memory, I remember things 10 years onward of my childhood that seem quite new to me. Thanks for the good work TS, I cannot stand this 1 sided view of abuse anymore and in light of those CDC stats it needs to be torn down and we need to evaluate abuse in all forms, without bias, for women AND men.

  44. Should be interesting there Typhon – I want to see how the study pans out with my own experience of working with survivors. I’m particularly interested in how the sampling was done.

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