by Evelyn Larsen
Sexual violence (SV) is one of the most underreported crimes in our society. Victims of sexual violence are often reluctant to report resulting in imprecise statistics that camouflage the true costs of sexual violence. We know that approximately one in four girls and one in six boys will be a victim of SV before age eighteen.1 It is a wide spread issue with significant ramifications, financial and otherwise, for individual victims, their employers and for society as a whole.
A precise outline of costs is not possible; however there is research and literature that gives logical and reasonable estimations in specific states. The cost of SV has both tangible and intangible costs and cost analysis of SV is often underestimated due to the significant non-tangible costs which result from the trauma. These costs include things such as the treatment of the symptoms of coping mechanisms used by victims for unresolved trauma, the unreported toll on family and friends due to emotional breakdown, and ongoing long-term effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study "The estimated annual cost of crime in the United States, $450 billion, is almost totally attributable to violent crime ($426), and exceeds the entire $266 billion cost of the U.S. defense budget by 69%."2 Additionally "rape is the most costly of all crimes to its victims where total costs are estimated to be $127 billion a year and which exclude the cost of child sexual abuse."3
Seventy-nine percent of sexual assault victims lost 1-5 days from work, 21% lost 11 or more days from work and according to NIJ the cost of work time was higher for victims of SV than for other crimes such as robbery, physical assault or arson.4
- Finkelhor, David, et al. "Sexual Abuse in a National Survey of Adult Men and Women: Prevalence, Characteristics, and Risk Factors." 1990
- Victim Cost and Consequences; A New Look p. 1
- Ibid p. 1
- Economic Costs of Sexual Assault p. 70