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Health Indicator Report of Injury - Youth History of Forced Sex

Sexual violence is a serious public health issue that directly impacts millions of people in the United States. Nationally, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced rape during their lives. The long-term impact of sexual violence victimization on suicide risk, mental health, and substance abuse has been well documented. Numerous correlational studies show that sexual violence victimization is associated with suicide ideation and attempts and with stress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and chronic major depression. Sexual violence is correlated with alcohol abuse, cigarette use, and drug abuse. It has been theorized that the stress, anxiety, and depression associated with sexual assault increase the likelihood of substance abuse. Most rape survivors are first raped before they are 18 years old. Youth with a history of forced sex report lower emotional well-being and self-esteem and report feelings of sadness or hopelessness. Research consistently demonstrates a relationship between sexual assault and substance abuse. An analysis of YRRS data indicated that youth in New Mexico with a history of forced sex had more than twice the risk for alcohol use, tobacco use, and illicit drug use and more than three times the risk for poor mental health outcomes, including suicide attempts and suicide ideation, than students who did not report a history of forced sex.

Data Source

New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, New Mexico Department of Health and Public Education Department.


History of forced sex among youth is measured by the percentage of NM high school students who answered "yes" to the question, "Have you ever been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when you did not want to?" on the 2015 NM Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey.


Number of students who indicate a lifetime history of forced sex


Number of high school students who completed the 2015 NM YRRS

Healthy People Objective: IVP-40, (Developmental) Reduce sexual violence

U.S. Target: Not applicable, see subobjectives in this category

Other Objectives

Children and adolescents who are members of marginalized communities are at increased risk for sexual violence victimization, and reducing this disparity is a priority for NMDOH OIP. In New Mexico, this includes youth who are experiencing housing instability (21.7% [17.4-26.7]), youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (18.9% [15.4-22.9]), youth who are living with physical disabilities (15.9% [13.3-18.9]), and youth who are foreign-born (9.4% [7.2-12.1]), Black or African American (10.5% [6.7-16.2]), and American Indian/Alaska Native (7.5% [5.8-9.8]).

How Are We Doing?

The rate of forced sex has been trending downward among youth since data collection began in 2007; however, no significant decreases have been seen from year to year.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Rates of sexual violence in NM are slightly higher than the US rate. Data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicate that 10.3% of girls and 3.1% of boys in the United States had been physically forced to have sex at some point during their lifetime, compared to 10.6% of girls and 4.1% of boys in New Mexico.

What Is Being Done?

The NMDOH Office of Injury Prevention supports sexual violence prevention and services. Prevention activities include work at all levels of the Spectrum of Prevention, including individual-level education for youth, norms change through messaging strategies, and changes to organizational policy to prevent sexual violence. During FY16, NMDOH OIP funded 11 sexual violence prevention programs reaching 4,814 students in six communities that adhered to the Principles of Effective Prevention.

Evidence-based Practices

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend four strategies for the primary prevention of sexual violence: promoting social norms that protect against violence, teaching skills to prevent sexual violence perpetration, providing opportunities to support and empower girls and women, and creating protective environments. Specific norms that have been linked to future sexual violence perpetration include acceptance of rape myth and adherence to rigid gender norms. According to the Principles of Effective Prevention, prevention programs should be comprehensive, include varied teaching methods, provide sufficient dosage, be theory driven, provide opportunities for positive relationships, be appropriately timed, be socio-culturally relevant, include outcome evaluation, and involve well-trained staff.

Available Services

NM Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (505) 883-8020 Arise Sexual Assault Services (575) 226-4665 Community Against Violence (575) 758-8082 IMPACT Personal Safety (505) 992-8833 ABQ Area Indian Health Service (505) 256-6717 La Pion SA Recovery Services (575) 526-3437 NM Asian Family Center (505) 717-2877 Rape Crisis Center of Central NM (505) 266-7712 Sexual Assault Services of NW NM (505) 325-2805 Silver Regional SA Support Services (575) 313-6203 Solace Crisis Treatment Center (505) 988-1951 Tewa Women United (505) 747-3259 Valencia Shelter Services (505) 565-3100

Health Program Information

Program evaluation includes measuring changes in attitudes and beliefs around rape myth, gender norms, and couple violence using a common survey instrument, and collecting qualitative data from teachers, program coordinators, and students. Changes in knowledge and attitudes were measured at pre-test, post-test, and one-month follow-up. The surveys were completed by 3084 students. Of the eleven programs evaluated, nine showed a statistically significant increase in rejection of rape myth at one-month follow-up; nine programs showed a significant increase in rejection of couple violence; and seven showed a significant increase in acceptance of flexible gender norms. Rates of sexual violence victimization significantly decreased in two intervention counties (Bernalillo and Santa Fe).
Page Content Updated On 03/02/2017, Published on 03/02/2017
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Content updated: Wed, 8 Mar 2017 17:14:11 MST