Medical & Health

Health Consequences

Sexual violence carries with it many long-term, adverse health consequences for victims.

Although the majority of victims do not suffer recognizable physical injuries as a result of the sexual assault, bruising, swelling, or cuts are not uncommon.   Genital injuries, gynecological complications, bleeding, infection, pelvic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and urinary tract infections may also result from the sexual violence.

Victims may face unwanted pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, and HIV/AIDS.  Sexual violence can also put women at a much higher risk for:

  • Chronic diseases (such as osteoarthritis and chronic pain)
  • Depression, Anxiety and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Substance abuse (tranquilizers, sedatives, pain-killers, anti-depressants, “recreational” drugs, etc.)
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Suicide and suicide attempts
  • Eating disorders
  • Gastrointestinal diseases

In 1996 the United States Department of Justice conducted a study that indicated that the short term costs of medical care, mental healthcare services, lost productivity, and pain and suffering per adult sexual assault victim is estimated at $87,000 per episode of sexual violence.  The total costs incurred by treating and responding to adult victims of sexual assaults is approximately $127 billion per year.

Health Consequences Documents

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*NICCSA is a project of the Southwest Center for Law and Policy (www.swclap.org) This project is supported by Grant No. 2017-SA-AX-K001, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.