Landmark UI report details cost of sexual violence in Iowa
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This year one in 35 Iowa women aged 18-44 will experience sexual violence, according to a new report from the Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC) in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. In addition, more than 55,000 Iowans experienced sexual violence in 2009. Of these, nearly three of every four were female and one in 10 was under age 18.
The report, “Costs of Sexual Violence in Iowa (2009),” enumerates not only the incidents of sexual violence in Iowa, but also details the results of a cost analysis to estimate the direct and indirect cost of sexual violence in Iowa.
“Sexual violence cost Iowans $5.8 billion in 2009,” says Ginger Yang., Ph.D., primary author on the report and associate professor in the UI Department of Community and Behavioral Health. “That amounts to $1,875 per resident.”
According to Yang, these costs included more than $300 million in direct costs for such things as medical care, victim’s services, and adjudication. An estimated $101 million in government money was spent as a result of sexual violence in Iowa: 55 percent on individuals known to have perpetrated sexual violence and a little over 44 percent on individuals victimized by sexual violence.
“The largest cost was due to the pain, suffering, and quality of life losses of victims and their families,” says Corinne Peek-Asa, director of the IPRC and UI professor of occupational and environmental health. “When talking about sexual violence, we have to take into account part of the costs of STDs, pregnancy, suicidal acts, and substance abuse, in addition to lost work, property damage, and other indirect costs more commonly associated with these acts.”
—Ginger Yang, primary report author
“More alarming is that we do very little to prevent the acts of violence in the first place,” continues Peek-Asa. “Less than 1 percent of state and federal funds were spent to prevent sexual violence. We simply must do more.”
Research has shown that sexual violence can be prevented before it occurs, continues Peek-Asa. Investing in comprehensive prevention programs that address its root causes will help ensure that victims and offenders receive prompt treatment to reduce the risk of later victimization or future offenses. Prevention programs also help organizations adopt policies that promote the safety of victims and accountability of perpetuators, and that everyone understands the beliefs that condone or minimize sexual violence.
“Costs of Sexual Violence in Iowa (2009)” gathered information from a number of sources including the Iowa Departments of Corrections, Human Rights, Human Services, Justice, and Public Safety. To determine the number of people victimized by sexual violence in Iowa, researchers used data from child protection services reports, Department of Justice data, and two population surveys of risk behavior.