Intersections of Sexual Violence and Economic Security

Wider Opportunities for Women

April 1, 2016
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Sexual violence is pervasive: one in five women will be raped in her lifetime and 63% will experience other forms of sexual violence. Nearly a quarter of men will experience a form of sexual violence other than rape. While the immediate impact of sexual assault may include fear, injury, diminished quality of life and emotional distress, survivors can also incur long-term economic costs with life-long impacts. Sexual violence can severely disrupt all aspects of survivors’ lives. Direct costs include short and long-term physical or mental health needs, lost productivity, damaged property, fees associated with the justice system and many others. Sexual assault and the trauma response may also affect survivors’ education and employment, particularly if the assault took place at school or if the offender was a supervisor or coworker. Trauma may result in long-term mental health issues, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression or anxiety, and risky coping behaviors, such as smoking, drugs or alcohol use, or unsafe sex. In addition, 80% of victims know their assailant, 50% of assaults take place within a mile of the victims’ home and only an estimated 2% of rapists ever serve jail time. As a result, survivors continue to be in danger of contact with their assailants after an assault, which affects their ability to live their lives and increases the effects of trauma.