Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence Data Sources

Since defining the problem using data is the first step to the public health approach, it is helpful to know what data sources related to sexual violence and intimate partner violence are available.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides an overview of key studies on sexual violence for advocates and prevention educators.

Below is a table of available data sources that includes a description of the source, it’s relevance to sexual violence and intimate partner violence along with strengths and weaknesses.

Community Engagement Strategies
Data Source Description Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence Relevance Strengths Weaknesses
The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is an annual statewide telephone surveillance system designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Surveillance is conducted on a monthly basis to collect data on modifiable risk behaviors, preventative health practices and health-related conditions contributing to the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the population. The sample is randomly selected residents, ages 18 years and older. The NDDoH adds 4 questions related to sexual violence attitudes every five years. A fact sheet with the results can be found here. Information provided by BRFSS is not available from other sources.

The questions measure attitudes shared by North Dakotans.

Some county level data is available.
Sexual violence questions are only asked every 5 years.

County level data should be interpreted with caution due to small sample size.

The questions do not measure behaviors.
Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, administered by the Department of Public Instruction, monitors priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. The survey results are intended for use to plan, evaluate and improve school and community programs.

Students in grades, 7-8 & 9-12 are surveyed in the spring of odd years. The survey is voluntary and completely anonymous.
Middle school questionnaires contain questions about the experience of bullying victimization.

High school questionnaires as about the experience of forced sexual intercourse.
North Dakota has two survey groups, selected and voluntary. The selected school survey population is chosen using a scientific sampling procedure which ensures that the results can be generalized to the state’s entire student population. The schools that are part of the voluntary sample, selected without scientific sampling procedures, will only be able to obtain information on the risk behavior percentages for their school and not in comparison to all the schools. The questions only ask about the experience of victimization and not perpetration for both bullying and forced sexual intercourse.

School-level YRBS data or school identifiers are not available in any public-use context.

Summary data about school-level YRBS results can be requested from the school district.
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) assesses experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual violence (SV), and stalking among adult women and men in the United States. NISVS is the first ongoing survey dedicated solely to describing and monitoring IPV, SV and stalking as public health issues. It also includes information that has not previously been measured in a nationally representative survey, such as types of sexual violence other than rape, expressive psychological aggression and coercive control, and control of reproductive or sexual health. NISVS is also the first survey to provide national and state level data on IPV, SV, and stalking.

Detailed State Tables are available here. Users should be aware of data.
CDC offers partners and grantees a way to create a state-specific fact sheet using NISVS data. The instructions PDF provide guidance on how to use the template.

NISVS is most relevant to prevention efforts in that it describes the magnitude, impact, and consequences of violence against women and men in the U.S. and can help determine risk factors.
NISVS relies on self-reported data. Despite efforts to make respondents feel comfortable and safe, it is possible that some victims are unable or unwilling to talk to an interviewer. Other victims, particularly those who were victimized a long time ago, may not remember some experiences.

Although NISVS includes a large sample size, in some cases statistically reliable estimates for all forms of violence among all populations and sub-populations are not able to be calculated from annual data.

NISVS is limited to the U.S. context and does not provide for state-level or local-level data.
North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation Contains various reports on crime and homicide in North Dakota. Includes data on forcible rape and other sex offenses. Data are collected annually and can be used to help describe who is at-risk for victimization and perpetration by gender, age and race.

Arrest data is available at the local jurisdiction-level by police department and sheriff’s office.
Only shows data on what is reported to law enforcement. Reporting rape is not mandated and victims may choose not to report even if rape kit is done.
Uniform Crime Reports The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program has been the starting place for law enforcement executives, students of criminal justice, researchers, members of the media, and the public at large seeking information on crime in the nation.
U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts Has links to tables by state, county, and city. Includes 2010 census counts and yearly population estimates.   Can be used to describe the demographics of geographically-specific target populations. Does not provide any explanatory data for linking demographics to the experience or perpetration of sexual violence.
State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (SEOW) The mission of the North Dakota State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (SEOW) is to utilize relevant state, tribal, and local data to guide substance use prevention planning, programming and evaluation. While the focus of the SEOW is substance abuse prevention, several risk and protective factors overlap with IPV and SV. Website has reports encompassing several data sources with reference pages. Limited data on sexual assault victimization and perpetration.
Council on Abused Women’s Services Aggregate data on domestic violence and sexual assault clients served and services provided by 20 local domestic violence and rape crisis centers. Contains facts about sexual assault in North Dakota. Can be used to describe help-seeking from victimization population and aspects of their experience.

Data is collected annually.
Data is not able to be broken down by agency, county, etc.
Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) from CDC WISQARS is an interactive, online database that provides fatal and nonfatal injury, violent death, and cost of injury data from a variety of trusted sources. Researchers, the media, public health professionals, and the public can use this data to learn more about the public health and economic burden associated with unintentional and violence-related injury in the United States. ER surveillance suggests that victims seek medical treatment for sexual assault more often than seeking assistance from law enforcement and rape crisis agencies.    
Add Health The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) is a longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States during the 1994-95 school year. Contains data on perpetrating violence in general and some protective factors.    
CDC Sexual Violence Data Sources   Contains links to several national data sources related to sexual violence, surveys, violent deaths, etc.    
Intimate Partner Violence Surveillance: Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements, Version 2.0 This publication is designed to promote consistency in the use of terminology and data collection across organizations that work to prevent intimate partner violence. Contains the following:

• Uniform Definitions for Intimate Partner Violence

• Data Elements for Record-based and Survey Surveillance of Intimate Partner Violence

• Recommended Data Elements for Intimate Partner Violence, which includes: identifying information, victim demographics, victim’s experience of IPV, and most recent violent episode perpetrated by an intimate partner.
Recently updated, it added stalking as a form of victimization, using technology to perpetrate stalking, and considers psychological aggression as a form of IPV. Does not contain any actual data on intimate partner violence. It is simply a guide to promote the consistency of data collection.