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National Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month: Rape costs survivor PTSD, $122,000
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The smudged eyeliner dripped down her cheeks along with her tears, the soiled mascara stood out on her pretty face along with the ruined makeup, her otherwise trendy red lipstick bore the signs of horror. Her disheveled hair hinted at a strong force having shattered her dignity bit by bit. She shivered in excruciating pain – the pain of losing her own self against her will to someone who didn’t think twice before the harrowing act. She had been sexually assaulted and a moment later, she became a rape victim.

Though this scenario is fictional, when one switches on the news or opens the newspaper, one is sure to find reports of such incidents across the world. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, man or woman. Not only is it traumatizing but for the victim, the ordeal can last a lifetime. Though the physical and emotional scars of sexual assault are well known but a study has attempted to find out its economic cost as well.

Lifetime cost of sexual assault

According to a study published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the lifetime cost of rape per victim is $122,461. It means an overall economic burden of more than $3 trillion over victims’ lifetime, taking into account the fact that about 25 million Americans aged 18 years or older have been raped. The research also points out that government sources bear an estimated $1 trillion of the lifetime economic burden. While the estimated cost did not include a monetized version of victim’s pain and suffering, it did include the victim’s physical and mental health, loss of work productivity and criminal justice costs.

The research is based on a mathematical model that uses data from previous studies and the 2011 U.S. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). As per the study, the per-victim cost of rape can be seen as a cost averted when an instance of rape is prevented. The study concluded that preventing sexual violence could help avoid substantial costs incurred by victims, perpetrators, employers and government, among others.

Sexual violence

President Trump recently declared April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month across the United States. Traditionally known as the Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it aims at raising public awareness and educating communities about sexual violence. The 2017 campaign calls on new partners and community members to help widen efforts targeted toward preventing sexual assault and promoting healthy relationships, equality and respect among the next generation.

This year’s theme is “Engaging New Voices,” which tries to remind everyone that their voices can change the culture of sexual violence.

The term “sexual violence” can be defined as a sexual act committed against a person without his/her consent. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), forms of sexual violence include rape, child sexual assault, intimate partner sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and unwanted sexual contact.

Sexual assault: More than physical trauma

Sexual violence is one of the most traumatic events that can happen to anyone. What makes the effects long lasting is its sheer unpredictability, the lack of control and the difficulty in being able to talk about the incident.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2011, over 19 percent of women (about 1 in 5) and about 2 percent of men were raped at least once in their lifetime. Also, nearly 44 percent of women and more than 23 percent of men experienced other forms of sexual violence. According to the CDC, most of the victims suffered the agony at a very young age. Among women victims of rape, nearly 40 percent were first raped before the age of 18 years.

Various surveys show that rape victims are more likely to experience mental health as well as substance abuse problems. According to the NSVRC, 81 percent of female rape victims and 35 percent of male victims suffer from short-term or long-term illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also, as compared to the general population, victims of sexual assault are more likely to abuse drugs. As per the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, sexual assault victims are 6 times more likely to use cocaine, 3.4 times more likely to use marijuana and 10 times more likely to use other major drugs.

Need for early prevention

While the recent study provides alarming statistics, the same can be used to enhance sexual assault prevention efforts throughout the nation. As per previous researches, prevention efforts focusing on nurturing relationships for children help prevent early adverse experiences. The U.S. Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program provides funding to 50 states, the District of Columbia and four territorial health departments.

While there has been an increase in awareness about sexual violence, many survivors continue to suffer in silence. Although a sexual assault causes irreversible damage, one needs to know that victims are never at fault for the heinous act. It is also worth mentioning that perpetrators often use force, threat or injury to attack their victims.

Assault can result in PTSD, seek medical help

PTSD is a reaction to experiencing a terrifying or a life-threatening event such as personal assault, serious accident or a natural disaster. Though PTSD symptoms may begin soon after the distressing event but may not surface even for months or years. These can vary in intensity and differ from person to person.

As mentioned earlier, victims of sexual violence are more likely to suffer from PTSD and similar mental disorders. The trauma of rape is often accompanied by the prejudices and stigma attached to it. Women who experience the trauma are often hesitant and fearful of seeking help.

Since symptoms vary from person to person, Sovereign Health offers an individualized treatment plan to help treat the disorder and avoid any relapse. We understand the plight of a woman suffering from mental disorders such as PTSD. Our comprehensive treatment for PTSD involves a holistic combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological modalities. It includes reducing emotional and physical symptoms, improves daily functioning and helps individuals cope with events triggering the disorder.

At Sovereign Health of Arizona, women patients suffering from mental health conditions receive private, safe and compassionate care in a safe and supportive environment. A female-only residential rehab facility, our Chandler facility offers highest quality care for mental health disorders, substance addiction and co-occurring conditions. The Chandler facility also offers a women-specific trauma treatment program. For more details on women mental health services at our Chandler facility, call at 24/7 helpline number 866-598-5661.You can also chat online with our counselors to know about a mental health rehabilitation center near you.

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