While Emma Sulkowicz vows to carry a mattress around her Columbia University campus until her accused rapist is thrown out, we're also reminded just how big of a problem sexual assault is in America. Statistics released by the CDC today reveal that 19.3% of U.S. women have been raped in their lifetime — almost one in five.
The statistics were gathered in 2011 from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) across all 50 states. This survey asked about experiences of stalking, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence for 5,848 men and 6,879 women. Their results were pretty striking: Almost one fifth of the responding women and 1.7% of the responding men reported being raped at some point in their lives. And, among the members of the study who had been victims of "contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner," 58.2% of men and 71.1% of women first experienced these before they were 25 years old.
This survey shows an increase from the 2010 NISVS statistics. As is always the case with self-reported surveys, there's the possibility of inaccuracy; however, self-reporting errors in studies investigating sexual assault tend to skew below the actual numbers, due to some participants' unwillingness to report their assault. One thing is for sure: Emma Sulkowicz is definitely not alone.