when the numbers don’t add up

The CDC says that 1 in 5 women in the US have been raped, or experienced attempted rape, in their lives. Violence against women is a BFD, in my opinion. One-third of US women say they have been raped, beaten, stalked, or assaulted in some combination. These are just REPORTED numbers. The Enliven Project produced an infographic (see pic) that shows that 90% go unreported.

rapist_visualization_03 enliven project
Given these numbers, I would think that as I go about my day, about 10% of the men I pass must have committed some crime of violence against a woman.

But if I look up the actual numbers, we find that only about 6% of men admitted to raping (or attempted rape of a woman). This is from a 2002 study that David Lisak did of 2000 male college students. Of those that admitted to the crime, 63% said they did it more than once (with an average of 6 rape acts).

That can’t be right. 

So, of course, I have to investigate this. Because the numbers just don’t add up. If 20% of women are sexually assaulted, and 90% don’t even report their assault, then there has to be more than 6% perpetrating the crime.

Well, I found my answer. On fivethirtyeight.com, of course. Thee premier website for statistics. They posted about a more recent study that found the number to be 10.8%.

But new research suggests that this “serial rape assumption” may need some rethinking. In a paper published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, a group of sexual assault researchers led by Kevin Swartout, an assistant professor of psychology at Georgia State University, used longitudinal data to track more than 1,000 male students at two southeastern universities over four years. Using the FBI’s definition of rape, the researchers found a higher proportion of men — 10.8 percent of the total sample, nearly twice as high as the Lisak/Miller study — who would be considered rapists. This suggests that the problem is far more widespread than the older study indicated.

Not that I’m happy about this. I’m actually sure it’s even more than this 10.8%, to tell you the truth. It’s definitely unsettling, knowing that I must be passing, saying “hello” to rapists as I go about my day.

But I am glad that people are paying attention to what is happening to women in America, and hope that it improves the lives of my kinfolk.

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