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In 2005, the Delaware Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS) included questions on sexual assault, providing the first survey data on prevalence of nonconsensual sex among women age 18 and older in Delaware. The BRFS is a random-sample telephone interview survey; all respondents are anonymous. The sexual assault data are based on interviews with 2,143 adult Delaware women.
The BRFS question refers to sex without consent, which is a broader category than "forcible rape." Police forcible rape statistics are reported on an annual basis, while the BRFS questions ask about both past-year and lifetime occurrence of nonconsensual sex. A few national studies have shown that self-reported prevalence of forcible rape and/or sexual assault is at least twice as high as the rate of forcible rape reported to police. For those reasons, one would expect the prevalence from the BRFS question to be considerably higher than the rate calculated from police reports.
The 2005 BRFS asked: "In the past 12 months, has anyone had sex with you after you said or showed that you didn't want to or without your consent?" Among adult Delaware women, 0.6% — or an estimated 1,600 women — reported having sex without their consent in the past year. This is almost four times the number of women reporting forcible rape.
As might be expected, the prevalence of sex without consent was highest among young adult women. Among 18 to 24-year-old women, 3.4% reported having sex in the past year without their consent.
In 2005, 11.8% of Delaware adult women reported that during their lifetime someone had sex with them without their consent, after they "said or showed they did not want sex." This means approximately 32,400 adult Delaware women have had sex without their consent at some time during their lives. There was no statistically significant difference between Caucasian and African American women in Delaware. In addition, 1.8% of adult men (about 4,700 men) reported having had sex without their consent at some time during their lives.
[Source: Delaware Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS), 2005.]
Delaware’s Department of Education, in cooperation with CDC, conducts the Youth Risk Behavior Survey on alternate years among a random sample of public high school students. The YRBS asks, "Have you ever been forced to have sexual intercourse when you did not want to?" The responses for recent years show a decrease in the prevalence of sexual intercourse without consent:
[Source of high school student data: "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2005," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Vol. 55, No. SS-5; and YRBS Reports 1999-2003.]
State Bureau of Identification Statistics for Delaware show the rate of reported forcible rape cases in Delaware has been declining since 1998. From 1989 through 1995 the rate was near 80 per 100,000. From 1996 through 1998, the rate varied from the low to high 60s. The rate of reported forcible rape in Delaware was 51 per 100,000 in 2004, and 53.5 per 100,000 in 2005. The reason for the increase between 2004 and 2005 was a change in definition, which now includes male victims. (Crime in Delaware Report: 2000-2005, Delaware Office of the Budget; and Delaware Bureau of Identification). Delaware reported forcible rapes by year for the past seven years for which data are available:
1998 = 632
1999 = 612
2000 = 514
2001 = 515
2002 = 447
2003 = 426
2004 = 409
2005 = 428
ContactLifeline Hotline: Rape crisis and victim support services are available from the ContactLifeline (formerly CONTACT Delaware) sexual assault hotline. Trained volunteers staff the hotline 24 hours a day. In New Castle County, call 761-9100; in Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-262-9800.
During 2005, ContactLifeline, the state's only rape crisis hotline, reported 560 calls to the hotline, with 390 follow-up calls. As a result of these calls, 182 rape victims were accompanied on hospital and/or police visits. These calls are usually from victims of forcible rape, attempted rape, or other sexual assault.
ContactLifeline, Inc., also provides rape prevention and education services statewide. For more information, visit their website.
Partial funding for ContactLifeline’s rape prevention and rape crisis services is provided by the Division of Public Health through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.