Violence against women (VAW) is widespread and linked to negative public health and social outcomes. Research on VAW, however, has largely been limited to convenience samples and on variable definitions of violence, hindering our ability to fully characterize this important problem nationally and among subgroups of women.
Using a population-based national sample of noninstitutionalized women ages > or =18 (n = 1,800), we conducted a telephone survey on women's experiences with 6 types of violence, including being followed and repeatedly contacted, as well as physical and sexual assault by intimate partners and others. We calculated adult lifetime and prior year prevalence of violent experiences, examined bivariate differences in experiences among groups of women, and employed logistic regression to model the odds of adult lifetime and prior year victimization.
Sixty percent of the respondents experienced at least 1 form of violence since age 18; 10% reported violence in the previous year. Adult lifetime and prior-year prevalence varied widely by types of violence, and by respondents' sociodemographic characteristics. Women under age 55, those receiving public assistance, and lesbian/bisexual women were at higher risk of experiencing violence in their adult lifetimes. Women age 18-24 had increased risks of victimization in the previous year.
To accurately reflect the chronic nature of partner violence, point estimates should be supplemented with adult lifetime estimates of victimization, including stalking behaviors. Ensuring adequate numbers of women from diverse backgrounds and developing measures that more completely assess the patterns and consequences of women's experiences with violence are important next steps.