Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New Report Proposes Solutions for Ending the Epidemic of Gender-Based Violence in America
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report that looks at the pervasiveness of gender-based violence (GBV) in America. Gender-based misconduct occurs in many different settings and contexts and encompasses a wide variety of behaviors, including negative behaviors directed at an individual based on their sex or gender identity, as well as behaviors that are sexual in nature. The report is the result of a yearslong effort to connect the dots across issues and take a more holistic look at the different factors driving GBV, with the goal of supporting the activism around ending harassment and GBV writ large.

“Combating gender-based violence is long overdue and will require taking concrete steps to break down systemic, institutional barriers that exacerbate the abuse and misuse of power and that undermine survivors,” said Jocelyn Frye, senior fellow for the Women’s Initiative at CAP and co-author of the report. “It is critical to confront these entrenched biases used to protect the powerful, disbelieve survivors, and harm women and gender minorities.”

“The trauma caused by gender-based violence continues to threaten and undermine the physical, mental, and financial well-being of women and girls across the country,” said Shilpa Phadke, vice president of the Women’s Initiative at CAP and co-author of the report. “This report offers a comprehensive framework for breaking down the systems that put them in danger and new concrete ideas to move forward.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • More than 43 percent of women in the United States—nearly 52.2 million—report experiencing some form of sexual violence involving physical contact over the course of their lives. The perpetrators of this violence are often current or former intimate partners and family members. GBV occurs throughout the lifecycle—from the earliest to latest years, at school, in the workplace, and in intimate relationships.
  • The emotional repercussions of GBV from factors such as trauma and stereotyping can lead to involvement in the criminal justice system and disrupt students’ education in ways that last into adulthood, limiting their ability to achieve economic security.
  • Multiracial, American Indian and Alaska Native, Black, and LGBTQ women experience disproportionately high rates of intimate partner violence, which can impair their involvement in the community, privacy, financial stability, and mental health.
  • Critical federal laws such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 play a key role in protecting survivors of GBV.

In addition to exploring how GBV affects particular communities and follows individuals throughout the course of their lives, the report also outlines federal-, state-, and institution-level policy proposals to rein in GBV, including:

  • Undertaking concrete actions to center and support survivors, such as ensuring access to legal assistance, work supports when transitioning from one job to another, counseling, comprehensive health care, and a range of emergency services
  • Establishing a federal blue-ribbon commission that brings together a diverse group of experts from the public and private sectors, as well as survivors, policymakers, and academics to map out priorities needed to combat GBV effectively
  • Preserving robust enforcement measures—particularly improvements made during the Obama administration—to promote institutional accountability and protect all survivors, such as requirements to establish clear reporting procedures that prevent retaliation
  • Supporting a robust research agenda to address significant gaps in data, particularly data on gender minorities, survivors of color, and survivors with disabilities
  • On the state level, examining practices across state offices and operations and implementing changes to protect women from discrimination and to empower survivors
  • Pursuing public education efforts to equip students, workers, and others with the tools needed to combat GBV, such as bystander intervention strategies and programs on healthy relationships
  • On the workplace level, ensuring that there are fair processes that enable survivors to come forward without retribution, as well as addressing structural barriers that may hinder reporting

Please click here to read: “Transforming the Culture of Power: An Examination of Gender-Based Violence in the United States” by Jocelyn Frye, Shilpa Phadke, Robin Bleiweis, Maggie Jo Buchanan, Danielle Corley, and Osub Ahmed with Rebecca Cokley, Laura E. Durso, and Chelsea Parsons

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202-741-6292.