In the previous part, I discussed the CDC’s general findings from the recent 2012 survey. My analysis continues below.
As I mentioned in the previous post, the CDC’s numbers have remained consistent throughout the survey’s history. While I do think the researchers are manipulating the data in regards to sexual violence, they appear to do it same way each time. For example, the researchers again found that women commit the majority of sexual violence against male victims:
For men who reported being a victim of completed or attempted rape, 86.5% reported only male perpetrators, with no statistically reliable state estimates. There were 9.5% of male rape victims who reported only female perpetrators. For male victims of being made to penetrate (completed or attempted), 78.5% reported only female perpetrators, with 7 reportable state estimates ranging from 71.8% to 89.7% (Table 3.18). There were 15.8% of male victims of being made to penetrate who reported only male perpetrators, and 3.5% who reported both male and female perpetrators.
In a general breakdown of the perpetrators of rape against male victims, including “made to penetrate” as rape:
- male only = 51.2%
- female only = 44%
- female and male = 7.5%
When factoring only contact sexual violence:
- male only = 46.3%
- female only = 47%
- female and male = 5.2%
When factoring the general rate of sexual violence:
- male only = 40.4
- female only = 52%
- female and male = 6.2%
One would think the researchers would note this rate given that it has appeared in all three surveys. It seems particularly given that women commit 78.5% of the highest form of sexual violence against males (“made to penetrate”). Yet the researchers do not acknowledge this. They do not dodge the data so much as they simply report it and move on. This stands in contrast to how they treat the findings with female victims reporting primarily male perpetrators. Rather than ignore the data, they point it out in the section on sexual violence, in the prevention recommendations, and in their conclusion.
A similar thing happens with the domestic violence numbers. The CDC found that 32.4% of women and 28.3% of men experienced it in their lifetime, while 3.9% or 4,730,000 of women and 4.7% or 5,389,000 men experienced it within the 12-month range. Again, there is no mention of this essentially equal rate of domestic violence other than a cursory mentioning of the lifetime rates later in the study. The 12-month rates are ignored, despite that more men reported experiencing physical violence. It is as if the researchers are so interested in playing politics that they will not acknowledge their own finding.
It is curious that the numbers for domestic violence for men are so high while the rates of sexual violence are low. However, I think this results from it being more difficult to play with the numbers in regards to physical violence. Either the person reported physical violence or they did not. With sexual violence, the researchers can split the data into different categories or decide to only count a certain number of assaults, which is what they did. If a person reported being raped by different people, the researchers would only use one of those assaults. The only way the researchers could do this is with domestic violence would be by mentioning the sex of the perpetrator and perhaps excluding heterosexual male victims.
However, the 2012 survey conveniently does not list the sex of the perpetrators for physical violence.
The researchers also included a specific portion on violence against minors in this version of the survey. According to the CDC, about 7% of female rape victims and 1.3% of male “made to penetrate” victims were assaulted before the age of 18. Both of those numbers are lower than any estimates for sexual violence against children, although it should be noted that they refer to specific times of assault. The generally accepted 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys rates refers to all forms of sexual violence.
Where the CDC’s findings become odd is in the breakdown among the victim groups. The CDC found that 41.3% of female victims of completed rape were assaulted before the age of 18. In contrast, the CDC found that only 24.3% of male victims of completed “made to penetrate” were assaulted before 18. To read that statistic another way, according to the CDC 73.1% of male victims were adults. Here is the breakdown:
- 10 years and under = 4 .7%
- 11-17 years = 19 .6%
- 18-24 years = 42 .9%
- 25+ years = 30 .2%
Based on this data, the CDC is essentially stating that boys are at a lower risk for rape than adult men. These findings do not match any other research on sexual violence against males. Of the dozens of studies I have encountered, all of them suggest that boys, particularly boys in the 11 to 17-year-old age range, face the highest risk of sexual violence among male victims.
The findings also suggest that women specifically target adult men. This too defies all other research into how perpetrators operate. Perpetrators tend to target people who cannot fight back. While there is an element of adult men probably not defending themselves out of fear of a false accusation of rape or assaulting a woman, it seems unlikely that women would target adult men rather than teen boys who are easier to control, manipulate, and threaten. Again, this finding does not match any other research.
So how did the CDC end up with something completely different than any prior research? One explanation is what they measured. The CDC looked at the rape category for female victims, but only looked at the “made to penetrate” category for male victims. Perhaps this is because the rate of rape against males in their lifetime was too low for the researchers to create estimates. Another reason comes from the 2010 survey (p. 25):
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.
Quite a bit of the CDC data on male victims ends up not being shown or too small to estimate, and it becomes rather suspicious when presented with estimates like the one above. Somehow the reported completed rapes against males were high enough to estimate that almost 30% of the victims were under 10, yet too small to estimate the remaining 70%. And for some reason the completed rape data was excluded the most recent report.
Perhaps the reason for excluding that data is that if one added the two types of assault together the estimate for completed rapes against boys 10 and younger becomes 16.3%. One could infer that similar changes would occur in the other estimates.
Let us assume that 73.1% of the male rape victims were adults as was found with the “made to penetrate” group. That would mean that boys between 11 to 17-years-old represent 18.8% of the rape victims. If we combine the two types of assault, we get an estimate of 19.2%. If we add the two under 18 estimates together, we get 35.5% of male rape victims being assaulted before the age of 18. That seems a more accurate estimate.
This is not the first time the researchers did this. They excluded the rape category for male victims in the 2011 survey as well, getting similar 21% rate. Yet the researchers do not discuss the oddity of finding that a) most male victims appear to be adults, b) most of the sexual violence appears to involve males being made to penetrate someone, and c) most perpetrators appear to be female. The researchers had no problem pointing out the unique experiences of female victims and ethnic minorities in the 2012 survey, yet when it came to male victims, they had nothing to say other than:
Similarly, more than two-thirds of male victims of completed made to penetrate reported that their first victimization occurred before age 25, and for 24.3% of male victims, it first happened as a minor. (p. 203)
The only other reference to addressing anything affecting males was the suggestion of using sexist violence prevention training methods:
Another approach to impact social norms is one that mobilizes men and boys as allies in prevention efforts. The intent is to make the prevention of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence everyone’s concern rather than solely a women’s issue. Such approaches work by promoting healthy, positive norms about masculinity, gender, and violence among individuals who can then spread these social norms through their social networks. Some of these approaches have been effective in athletic groups and other all-male groups. (p. 205)
Yes, when you find that the vast majority of male victims are assaulted by females, it makes logical sense to only teach males about prevention efforts. The researchers ironically treat these forms of violence as a women’s issue even though their own numbers suggest males are essentially equal victims of the violence.
My initial impression of the CDC’s 2010 survey was that the researchers played with the numbers, deliberately categorizing male victimization in a way so as to imply that males are rarely victims of sexual violence and likely withholding data that showed otherwise. This survey, which combines data from 2010, 2011, and 2012, only bolsters that impression. While the researchers did listen to criticism about ignoring the higher prevalence of “made to penetrate”, it again appears they manipulated the data either by omitting findings or calculating them in very odd ways. This produced results that no other survey has found.
I do not know what to make of the CDC’s sexual violence findings other than to say that one must be careful in relying on the numbers as they appear to be designed rather than reported. The survey itself supports this theory. Men reported about the same rate of domestic violence as women, which matches most non-feminist studies. Men reported less stalking and harassment than women, as well as experiencing less trauma from the different types of violence. This too is consistent with other studies. The only section that that fails to match other studies is the sexual violence group, and even then it only applies to the numbers for male victims. The numbers for female victims are similar, albeit higher, to findings in other studies.
This strikes me as suspicious. My hope is that if we keep complaining to the CDC about how they are categorizing their data and what they are releasing, perhaps they will stop playing games with the numbers. Otherwise, it makes the survey pointless as it obscures the actual rate of sexual violence against male victims. That is a travesty because the point of conducting this research is to prevent violence. It is to help people, not play politics. Yet that is what the survey appears to be: nothing more than an attempt to politicize violence as a “women’s issue”, despite the evidence suggesting that it affects both women and men equally.