Consequences of Sexual Assault on the Community
last updated February 1, 2006

Research indicates that sexual violence has significant long-term consequences for women's participation in society. As explained in a Dublin study of the experiences of sexual assault victims, "fear of crime in general and fear of sexual violence in particular can affect the very nature and quality of women's lives." A study cited in the Dublin report found that not only were victims of sexual assaults "in general more fearful of crime, but they also reported restricting their activities to a greater degree than did male respondents."

Sexual assault survivors experience significant long- and short-term physical, emotional, psychological and reproductive health problems. The health care costs of addressing the medical needs of sexual assault victims are high; in Western Europe alone, sexual assault and domestic violence "have been estimated to account for 16% of the total health burden." Another study, also cited in the Dublin report, indicates that

victimisations generate US$105 billion annually in medical costs, lost earnings and costs related to victim assistance. When the values of pain, long-term emotional trauma, reduced quality of life and risk of death from victimisation are assessed, the costs of personal crime in the United States increase to an estimated $450 billion annually. . . . Overall, rape has the highest annual victim costs at $127 billion per year, followed by assault at $93 billion, murder (excluding arson and drunk driving) at $61 billion, and child abuse at $56 billion."

From Ivana Bacik, Catherine Maunsell, & Susan Gogan, The Legal Process and Victims of Rape 28-30 (September 1998).

A World Bank study conducted in 1993 indicates that rape and domestic violence "accounts for nearly one in five health years of life lost to women age 15 to 44." The World Bank study shows that the health burden resulting from rape and domestic violence is roughly equivalent in developing and industrial countries, but that violence is a smaller percentage of the overall health burden because the this burden is greater in developing countries. "At a global level the health burden from gender-based victimization among women age 15 to 44 is comparable to that posed by other risk factors and diseases already high on the world agenda, including the human immunodeficiency virus, tuberculosis, sepsis during childbirth, cancer, and cardiovascular disease." From International Labour Organization, Sub-Regional Office for South-East Asia and the Pacific, Online Training Module on Gender, Unit 2: Gender Issues in the World of Work, Health Consequences of Gender-based Violence. The World Health Organization reports that "[r]ape and domestic violence account for 5% to 16% of health years of life lost by women of reproductive age." From Chapter 4, World Health Report 2002: Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life, World Health Organization 34 (2002).

In a recently released report, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in the United States estimates that the mean medical care cost per incident of marital rape among victims who actually receive treatment is $2,084. Approximately half of these medical costs are paid by insurance, and victims pay more than one-fourth of these costs. In terms of mental health treatment, the mean mental health care cost per incident of marital rape for those victims who actually receive treatment is $978. The mean daily earnings lost to victims of marital rape are $69; the mean daily value lost in terms of household chores is $19.1. "Rape victims lose an estimated 1.1 million days of activity each year, which is equivalent to 3,872 personyears." From Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (March 2003). (Available in PDF and HTML, 64 pages).

For a collection of research and reports on the community costs of sexual assault, click here.