Bisexual Women at Especially High Risk of Sexual Violence, CDC Says

Six out of 10 reported rape, stalking or other abuse, often early in life

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FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Bisexual women in the United States are more likely to suffer from domestic violence than either lesbian or heterosexual women, a new government report shows.

The data, released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the first to look at rates of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking based on sexual orientation. The CDC team also found that lifetime levels of sexual and physical violence among lesbians and gay men were equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals.

"We know that violence affects everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. This report suggests that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in this country suffer a heavy toll of sexual violence and stalking committed by an intimate partner," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in an agency news release.

According to the report, about 61 percent of bisexual women reported some incident of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, compared with about 43 percent of lesbian women and 35 percent of heterosexual women.

Ninety percent of those bisexual women who had experienced intimate partner violence had only male perpetrators, while two-thirds of lesbian victims had only female perpetrators.

Regardless of their sexual orientation, most women who suffered sexual violence said that they were victimized by men, the CDC report found.

This abuse often occurs early in life, the researchers noted. About half (48 percent) of female bisexual victims and about 28 percent of female heterosexual victims suffered their first rape between the ages of 11 and 17 years, according to the study, which was based on 2010 data from the U.S. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

It's not enough to provide help to the victims of sexual violence after the event, Frieden said.

"While intervening and providing services are important, prevention is equally critical," he noted.

More information

The American Psychiatric Association has more about domestic violence.

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