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The cost of childhood sexual violence

The financial impact of child sexual abuse can be devastating – for a variety of reasons. Victims and their families often need immediate resources to pay for therapists, lawyers, medication, etc.  Others must take unpaid leave from due to emotional trauma, to attend medical, legal and counseling appointments, and deal with how the assault has impacted their family. There are also serious long-term financial effects. The following is just a partial list of the financial costs accrued by victims of child sexual abuse.  

Health care is 16 percent higher for women who were sexually abused as children and 36 percent higher for women who were physically and sexually abused as children (National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, 2012).

Each rape costs approximately $151,423 (DeLisi, 2010).

Annually, rape costs the U.S. more than any other crime at $127 billion (Miller, 1996).

When sexual violence occurs in adolescence, one of the most immediate results is a disinvestment in education; this can lead to lower occupational status and personal income during adulthood, with an estimated lifetime income loss due to sexual assault being $241,600 (MacMillan, 2000).

Between 48 and 69 percent of the effects of adolescent victimization on personal income is due to diminished educational attainment and occupational status (MacMillan, 2000)Childhood trauma, including child sexual abuse, can lead to poor job performance and work absenteeism in adulthood (Anda et al., 2004).

Over half of all of the women receiving welfare suffered physical and/or sexual abuse in childhood (Lyon, 2002).
Following sexual violence, mental health struggles can make it difficult to concentrate at work. Between 50 percent and 95 percent of women develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being raped (Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, 1999).

Traumatic experiences such as sexual violence can interfere with the ability to hold a job (Bassuk, Melnick, & Browne, 1998).

While poverty or unemployment do not directly cause sexual violence, both have been identified as contributing risk factors to its occurrence (Jewkes et al., 2002; CDC, 2009).

Individuals who lack sufficient economic resources to meet their basic needs are often sexually exploited by perpetrators who force them to barter sex for essential goods as a way to survive (Jewkes et al., 2002).

Survivors of sexual assault earn about $6,000 a year less than people who have not been sexually assaulted (MacMillan, 2000).