When the subject of rape comes up in conversations it’s often laced with polarizing agenda-pushing questions: pro-choice or pro-life? Wrong vs. right? Women’s issue or human issue?
Rarely, do we ever get to hear about the life-altering details of such a situation; the aftershocks and unspoken effects on those who’ve survived. Surprisingly, one of those buried details is the monetary cost. Even more specifically: How much money women around the country are expected to pay out of pocket for medical treatment after assaults.
In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, and noted by Reuters, many women around the U.S. often foot 14 percent of the bill for the tests and other medical costs associated with reporting their rape to authorities. For private insurance holders that generally amounts to $950, with the insurance provider roughly paying the remaining $5,789. The average rape case costs $6,737.
“With other violent crimes, victims are not responsible for paying for the damage that results from the crime,” said Ashley Tennessee lead author of the study to Reuters. “Many people know sexual assault is an issue, but they’re often unaware that victims have to pay for associated medical charges,” said Tennessee.
Though insightful, there were a few glaring omissions from the examined. Details surrounding the sexual assaults of those uninsured, publicly insured, and men in the LGBTQ community weren’t studied.
“This financial burden adds to the emotional burden of sexual assault,” Tennessee said. “This is an area that society has missed, and we have a moral right to help victims.”
Another financially concerning issue involving sexual assault survivors is the testing of rape kits. Sadly, in some states, it’s not uncommon for sexual assault survivors to pay for their own kits. In fact funding for the testing has gotten so bad that one lawmaker in Texas, Rep. Victoria Neave, launched a crowdfunding solution to pay for the backlog of untested kits.
It’s bad enough that survivors are coping with the many challenges of surviving a sexual assault. The fact that this trauma is compounded by paying out of pocket for medical expenses and testing is disheartening.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).