True cost of sexual assault is staggering

  • Published
  • By Sandy Brown
  • 81st Training Wing sexual assault response coordinator
As the Air Force talks of efficiencies, cost cutting and budget constraints, the question of how that relates to sexual assault reverberates within my brain. So, in typical fact-finding
mode, I began combing the literature. Several scholarly articles have been written on the method of deriving the price tag associated with a sexual assault. Researchers included medical care, mental health services, victim support services, quality of life losses of victims and their families and loss productivity due to time off. The amount in current dollars is approximately $162,000 per sexual assault. This figure does not include the time spent by law enforcement investigators or the court system prosecuting such cases. The cost to the Air Force exceeded one hundred twenty-five million dollars in fiscal year 2012 alone, but that is by far a small amount when placed against the true costs.

The figure above does not capture those intangible elements that accompany sexual assault -- the cost of revictimization which occurs during the disclosure process; the breakdown
of unit cohesion when the victim and alleged offender are in the same squadron, and the increased fear or mistrust of those same individuals who you were taught to depend on.
It is a brave individual who is willing to come forward and choose to file an unrestricted report of sexual assault. These people do so not to protect themselves, but to protect others from
experiencing this heinous crime. Yes, some will comment and exclaim, "What about those unjustly accused?" Statistics from the FBI indicate that 95 - 97 percent of cases are credible
reports and the Air Force has consequences for individuals who make false allegations for crimes, including sexual assault.

Tragically, a victim is forever changed by a sexual assault. Victim support and services early on in the process can aid in the healing process and are a cornerstone of the sexual assault prevention and response program. For individuals who are unable to overcome the obstacles to healing, the pain may remain with them throughout their life. The cost for those individuals can be insurmountable and is where the focus of SAPR's mission is and always will be.

To report a sexual assault, contact the Keesler Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office Hotline at 228-377-7278.