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Financial Cost of Sexual Assault

May 31, 2011

by Shereen Reda, Prevention Program Coordinator, Sexual Violence Center

Everyone pays the price for sexual assault; not just those who are directly affected. There is a financial cost to this type of violence, which society pays. In 2005, sexual assault resulted in almost $8 billion in costs to the state of Minnesota. This amounts to approximately $1,540 per Minnesota resident, and is 3.3 times the societal monetary cost of alcohol-impaired driving ($2.1 billion).

In 2006, the state government spent $90.5 million on sexual assault victims, compared to the $130.5 million spent on those individuals known to have perpetrated this violence. When someone is sexually assaulted, whether or not they decide to report it to the police, there are a number of societal spheres with which a victim may intersect, each with an associated price tag. There are medical expenses, including evidentiary exams, STDs, pregnancy, and mental health costs. Victim services, including those related to substance abuse and attempted suicide, as well as any criminal justice costs that may follow are also counted. The highest individual cost comes from pain and suffering, and lost quality of life, which makes up 88 percent of the total amount, or approximately $139,000 per adult sexual assault. This is only a fraction of the true financial impact, as it does not reflect the cost on family/relationships, re-victimization, and costs related to personal and community protection.

Some costs, such as lost work wages, fall to the victim alone. However, the impact at work leads to a loss in productivity and company revenue. So, even when the victim is required to foot the bill, there is a cost to the community and society that can be measured in dollars and cents.

From this 2005 self-reported data, 61,000 Minnesotans were sexually assaulted. That is roughly the equivalent of the population of Maple Grove. Of these incidents, only 7,200 police reports were filed and still only 2,617 met the standards to be called “rape”; other forms of sexual violence were not included.

These numbers should be emphasized in light of recent legislative deliberations to cut funding for sexual assault programs and service providers like services provided by the Sexual Violence Center. Because not all sexual assault is reported or charged, but the lives of victims are still affected by this violence, it is reasonable to assume that there are related societal and financial costs not reflected here – for which we all pay the price.

Read the full 2007 Minnesota Department of Health report, available on the MDH website for more information on the Costs of Sexual Violence in Minnesota.

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