Sexual Violence Costs the U.S. Billions of Dollars

Gender inequality and sexual violence have been at the forefront of news for some time now—even just on college campuses, the issue is huge. It is no surprise that sexual violence and assaults can devastate a woman’s life and mental health. A recent study now says that it affects our economy, too.

The McKinsey Global Institute, a research firm that focuses on helping leaders in every sector understand how policy issues affect the global economy, released results on Thursday that points to how much sexual assault is really costing the U.S. To be more exact, researchers at the institute found that violence against women in the nation results in $4.9 billion in direct costs—medical expenses, lost productivity and lost earnings. Including indirect costs (i.e. the cost of suffering and decreased quality of life), that number could shoot up to around $500 billion.

Graphic by Bridget Higgins

The study also put out an equally shocking statistic: “More than 39 million women—nearly one-third of the US female population—have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner, from slapping to beating.” More than 95 percent of this violence occurs in households with a total income of less than $75,000.

According to Refinery29, about 70 percent of these initial violent incidents happen to young women between the ages of 11 and 24.

The bad news does come with a glimmer of hope, though. If the U.S. addresses the vast gender inequality at least moderately, the about $2.1 trillion could be added to the GDP by 2025—adding over six million jobs to the workforce.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time set up by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to raise public awareness about sexual violence education and prevention. Sexual violence is something this society should never stand for, not only because of economics, but because no woman should ever experience such abuse.