By: ZOSIA BIELSKI
Although there have recently been several high profile cases of sexual assault and rape in the Canadian media, the long lasting personal and societal costs of sexual violence are seldom acknowledged. Amanda Dale, Schlifer Clinic ED, breaks down the long-term effects on survivors in the following Globe and Mail article:
“For victims of sexual violence, trauma can live in the body as a chronic condition. “When you’ve had your trust violated, at a physiological level your body doesn’t know when it’s safe any more,” Dale says. “You can wind up navigating your entire life from a position of high alert. That translates into a form of constant vigilance that intrudes into your sleep time and your sexuality so that you cannot rest or enjoy your body.”
And if there was any question of the staggering fiscal costs of sexual violence on both survivors and society as a whole, the article goes on to dispel any misconceptions:
The costs of sexual violence:
The trauma of sexual violence can impact victims for a lifetime, affecting their health, education and employment. With 460,000 people reporting a sexual assault in one year alone in Canada, the annual costs are staggering: $1.9-billion when you factor in the physical, emotional and financial toll on victims and the costs for health and social services, police, courts and employers.
Counselling and legal advice can help survivors regain control but experts are agitating for more investment in violence prevention programs for youth that model healthy relationships from the get-go – all to temper the devastating personal costs for survivors and the collective costs for society.
The cost to survivors:
$75.9-million: mental-health services
$2.6-million: health-care costs
$23.9-million: productivity losses
The cost to society:
$172.4-million: social services
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; Canadian Women’s Foundation; Statistics Canada