News Release

How common are forced first sexual intercourse experiences among US women?

Peer-Reviewed Publication

JAMA Network

Bottom Line: This study estimates 1 in 16 U.S. women had an unwanted first sexual intercourse experience that was physically forced or coerced. In an analysis of nationally representative survey data for 13,310 women, 6.5% of the respondents reported a forced first sexual intercourse encounter, which is equivalent to more than 3.3 million women between the ages of 18 and 44. The average age for women at the time of the forced encounter was 15 ½ compared with 17 ½ for those reporting a voluntary first sexual intercourse experience. The average age of the assailant at a first forced sexual intercourse was six years older (27 vs. 21) compared with the partner in a voluntary first sexual experience. Women with a forced first sexual intercourse experience were more likely to have an unwanted first pregnancy or abortion, as well as other gynecological and general health problems. Limitations of the study include its observational design so causal inferences are impossible and authors were unable to account for other potential influencing factors.

Authors: Laura Hawks, M.D., of  Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and coauthors


Editor's Note: The article includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.


Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Laura Hawks, M.D., email David Cecere at The full study and commentary are linked to this news release.

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