More than one in five women questioned for a United States survey have reported having been raped.
Nearly a third of all women said they had experienced episodes of sexual assault, physical violence or stalking at the hands of an intimate partner.
The study, compiled by the US Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta, offered a disturbing glimpse into the private lives of women in America, particularly to abuse within relationships that often went unreported.
Victims of rape or other forms of physical violence were more likely to suffer mental ailments as a consequence of the attacks, found the study, in which data was collected from phone interviews with 16,500 adult Americans.
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Results indicated about 12 million Americans may have been victims of rape, stalking or physical violence.
For most women the assaults came when they were still young - 80 per cent of rape victims said they were targeted before the age of 25.