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Womens Health Issues. 2005 Jul-Aug;15(4):157-66.

Sexual assault in Virginia: A population-based study.

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Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298-0212, USA.



Sexual assault is a serious social problem that affects the lives of many women, men, and children. Most sexual assaults are not reported to authorities and most victims do not seek services. As a result, accurate statistics on the prevalence and incidence of this problem are difficult to obtain. As in many states, the magnitude of sexual assault in Virginia is not known. This study was conducted to estimate the prevalence and determine the correlates of sexual assault among women in Virginia.


A cross-sectional telephone survey was conducted among adult female residents of Virginia between November 2002 and February 2003. A total of 1,769 women aged 18 and older were interviewed using a random digit dialing method.


The lifetime prevalence of sexual assault in Virginia was 27.6%. The majority (65%) were rape victims with a prevalence of 17.8%. Approximately 78% of the victims reported that the sexual assault occurred for the first time when they were children or adolescents. Women who reported sexual assault were more likely to be between 35 and 44 years old (OR = 3.57; 95% CI = 2.06-6.15), divorced/separated/widowed (OR = 1.61; 95% CI = 1.13-2.30), consume alcohol four or more times a week (OR = 1.80; 95% CI = 1.01-3.21), ideate suicide (OR = 4.48; 95% CI = 3.23-6.23), and perceive their health status to be poorer (OR = 2.74; 95% CI = 1.30-5.83).


Sexual assault is a major public health problem in the Commonwealth of Virginia and children are disproportionately affected by the problem. Interventions and prevention programs should focus on children and adolescents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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