Sexual abuse follows a child throughout the rest of their life, and oftentimes, it leaves a severe mark of emotional and physical trauma. Unfortunately, it also affects other aspects as victims mature into adults, including their finances.
According to a study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, there is actually a significant financial loss for victims when it comes to child sexual abuse.
The unseen losses of abuse
The researchers found that the lifetime economic burden is on average $282,734 for female victims and at least $74,691 for male victims (with caveats due to data). These statistics only correlated to the nonfatal accounts of abuse, so the fatal incidents were much high in terms of financial losses.
One of the study’s authors and health economist Derek Brown told NPR that the researchers factored in costs of medical care, quality of life and mental health treatments after the child abuse.
“You have a modest impact of a few thousand dollars a year for earnings, but that accumulates over the life cycle,” Brown told NPR, “you have 40-plus years of those impacts for a victim.”
Along with the costs of treatments, victims of child sexual abuse tend to lose income over time because they develop issues in the workplace. The research correlated more productivity losses with victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Tom Plante, a psychologist at Santa Clara University, who studies clergy sex abuse, explained the mental ramifications affect performance in work and school.
“There are reminders all around,” Plante told NPR, “Maybe you drive by a church or you’re watching a movie and a priest shows up in the movie, or you’re asked to attend a wedding or a funeral.”
It puts many victims in a tough position as they cope with their childhood trauma and grapple with the financial burdens of adulthood. They may find it more challenging to hold down a job or cover the expenses of consistent therapy.
Luckily, victims do not have to struggle alone. There are ways to seek justice and also help those around you. You may be a parent or teacher who sees the signs of child abuse in your life, so do not let it fester to the point where the victim cannot recover.