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Bisexual women more likely to report experiencing nonconsensual sex, notes CDC study

The study found that 36.1% of bisexual women reported instances of nonvoluntary or forced sex, compared to 17.5% of heterosexual women and 18.2% of women who identified as lesbian or gay.

Photo by Darius Marshall from Unsplash.com

Women who belong to sexual minority groups are more likely to experience sexual violence than sexual majority women. This is according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which – specifically – found that bisexual women to be more likely to report experiencing male-perpetrated, “nonvoluntary or forced” vaginal intercourse in their lifetime than heterosexual women.

The study – “Nonvoluntary or Forced Sex Among Women, by Sexual Identity, Attraction, and Behavior — National Survey of Family Growth, United States, 2011–2017” by Grace S. Liu, Christopher R. Harper, Michelle M. Johns and Laura M. Mercer Kollar – appeared in Weekly.

The study found that 36.1% of bisexual women reported instances of nonvoluntary or forced sex, compared to 17.5% of heterosexual women and 18.2% of women who identified as lesbian or gay.

In total, 18.7% of 14,309 women said they experienced nonvoluntary or forced sex.

Fo this study, the researchers used data from the National Survey of Family Growth in the US, which involved interviews with women between the ages 18 and 44 years old from 2011 to 2017. It defined “nonvoluntary sex” as when a woman reported not choosing to have vaginal intercourse “of your own free will.” Sex was considered “forced” when a woman was “forced by a male to have vaginal intercourse against your will.”

The study also found that:

  • women who reported attraction to both the opposite and same sex were more likely to report instances of nonvoluntary or forced sex, or 30.3%; while 15.8% of those who were sexually attracted to the opposite sex reported nonvoluntary or forced sex situations.
  • over 35% of women who experienced sexual behavior with both the opposite and same sex said they endured nonvoluntary or forced sex; while 15.9% of women who had only had sex with the opposite sex said the same.
  • women unsure of their sexual attraction were 3.7 times more likely than those only attracted to the opposite sex to report nonvoluntary first vaginal intercourse.

Sadly, the CDC study similarly found that women who identified as lesbian or bisexual, and women who reported attraction to the same sex only were more likely to have endured nonvoluntary first vaginal intercourse. Women who were nonheterosexual women were, on average, also more likely to have experienced nonvoluntary or forced sex at an earlier age. For instance, lesbian and bisexual women reported their earliest instance of nonvoluntary or forced sex at 12.7 years old and 15.7 years old, respectively. For heterosexual women, the average earliest age for heterosexual women was 17 years old.

“These findings underscore the need for comprehensive prevention approaches tailored for sexual minority women and prevention of child sexual abuse, given the average ages at earliest nonvoluntary or forced sex experience among sexual minority women,” the report said.

It stressed that “given the higher prevalence of nonvoluntary or forced sex associated with minority sexual identity, attraction, and behavior, comprehensive efforts to prevent victimization of sexual minority women are warranted.”

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Recommendations included:

  • engaging sexual minority women in the development of targeted primary prevention efforts
  • creation of comprehensive efforts based on best available evidence, including emphasizing approaches to changing gender and sexuality norms and attitudes
  • improving bystander behaviors
  • empowering sexual minority women and girls, and
  • creating protective environments to address perpetration of nonvoluntary or forced sex and victimization among sexual minority women

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