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Workplaces Respond to Domestic & Sexual Violence

The Facts on the Workplace and Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is one of the most underreported crimes in our society. Recent data suggests that fewer than one in six women report sexual violence to the police.1


  • An estimated 91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male.2
  • If statistics include forcible rape, incapacitated rape and drug-alcohol facilitated rape, over one million women in the U.S. were estimated to have had a rape experience within the past year.3
  • Nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime while 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime.4
  • In 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.5
  • More than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance; for male victims, more than half (52.4%) reported being raped by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger.6

Connection to the Workplace

  • The United States Department of Justice estimates that eight percent of rapes occur while the victim is working.7
  • Rape and sexual assault were reported to police at the lowest percentage (24%) when compared to other violence crimes in the workplace.8
  • In 2000, 36% of rape/sexual assault victims lost more than 10 days of work after their victimization.9


  • According to the National Institute of Justice, rape costs our country more than any other crime, followed by assault ($93 billion); murder ($71 billion); and drunk driving, including fatalities ($61 billion).10
  • The National Institute of Justice estimated that rape and other sexual assaults of adults cause an annual minimum loss of $127 billion dollars (using 1993 dollars).11
  • The National Institute of Justice estimates that employers pay almost $5 billion annually for traditional crimes of violence, including rape, assault, and murder. This estimate excludes costs related to sick leave and disability insurance costs.12
  • Why are cost estimates of sexual violence low?

Estimates are typically based on statistics that measure incidence or prevalence of rape identified through cases reported to law enforcement or through victimization surveys. Consider that:

  • Surveys that capture statistics use questions that measure sexual violence in different ways. While some include instances of oral and anal penetration, for instance, some include only vaginal penetration.
  • Some surveys capture rape experienced through force as well as rape that occurred during incapacity, other surveys do not.
  • Estimates may not include the range of sexual violence perpetrated against victims other than acts that involve penetration of some kind.
  • What types of costs are included in these estimates?
  • Estimates include tangible losses such as the costs of an initial police response, medical care, mental health services, property damage and loss of productivity.
  • Estimates do NOT include:
    •  intangible losses to the victim such as the loss of quality of life, pain, or suffering.
    • some tangible costs, such as investigation, prosecution, or incarceration of offenders.
    • increased security costs for employers or costs related to absenteeism or loss of experienced personnel.
    • costs that result from legal liability for failing to take reasonable steps to provide as safe a workplace as possible!
  • How can I find out more information about sexual violence and its cost?

Please refer to the additional resources below for more specific information on the costs of sexual violence in the work place.

O'Leary-Kelly, A. (2007). “The Effects and Costs of Intimate Partner Violence for Work Organizations.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Vol. 22, No. 3, p.327-344
Available at:
This research examines productivity-related effects and other costs associated with intimate partner violence.

The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy (2005). A Considerable Sacrifice: The Cost of Sexual Violence in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Available at:
This article details the frequency of sexual violence in the Armed Forces, the challenge of serving victims and the cost of this victimization.

Dolezel, McCollum & Callahan (2009). The Hidden Cost of Health Care: The Economic Impact of Violence and Abuse. Academy on Violence and Abuse.
This article links a history of violence or abuse and increased utilization of medical services.

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (2007). Economic Costs of Sexual Assault.
Available at:
This article details sexual violence statistics, costs of the violence, and the impact on the victim.

Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2003). Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States.
Available at
This publication outlines the cost, incidence and prevalence of intimate partner violence and identifies further research needs.

Kilpatrick, McCauley & Mattern (2009). Understanding National Rape Statistics. VAWnet: The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women.
Available at: 
This article explains how various organizations define sexual violence and how research is conducted and interpreted.

Miller, Cohen & Wiersema (1996). Victim Costs and Consequences: A New Look. The National Institute of Justice.
Available at:
This report includes an analysis of rape and other violent crimes and the costs associated with them.

Minnesota Department of Health (2007). Cost of Sexual Violence in Minnesota.
Available at:
This report states that the cost of sexual violence was almost $8 billion in 2005.

Minnesota Department of Health. (1999). Sexual Violence Basics: How Much Does Sexual Violence Cost?
Available at:
A quick, easy to read reference sheet put out by the Minnesota Department of Health.

New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault (2003). The Cost of Rape.
Available at:
This article outlines the cost of Sexual Violence to individual victims and to health care providers as well as common hindrances to care that occur when serving this population.

Post, Mezey, Maxwell & Wibert (2002). “The Rape Tax: Tangible and Intangible Costs of Sexual Violence.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Vol. 17, No 7, p. 773-782.
The authors estimate the tangible and intangible cost of rape in Michigan in 1996 as more than $6.5 billion. If it was equally divided between the citizens of Michigan each would have paid $700 to cover the costs of rape within their state in that year; a "rape tax".

Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (2003). "Connections: The Cost of Rape.”
Available at:
A bi-annual publication of the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault programs. This issue addresses the high cost of sexual violence.

Download a PDF version of this page

  1. Kilpatrick, D. & McCauley, J, (2009). Understanding National Rape Statistics.  VAWNet: The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women.  Available at
  2. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Violence Against Women (1994).
  3. Kilpatrick, D. & McCauley, J, (2009). Understanding National Rape Statistics, 7.  VAWNet: The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women.  Available at
  4. Centers For Disease Control, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report  (Dec. 2011). Available at
  5. Tjaden, P & Thoennes, N.  (2000). Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey. National Institute of Justice.
  6. Centers For Disease Control, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report  (Dec. 2011). Available at
  7. Duhart, D. (2001).  Violence in the Workplace, 1993-99.  Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available at
  8. Id.
  9. Id.
  10. Miller, Cohen & Wiersema (1996). Victim Costs and Consequences: A New Look.  National Institute of Justice. Available at
  11. Id. at 17.
  12. Id. at 19.

Partner Organizations Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), Legal Momentum, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and its National Sexual Violence Resource Center, National Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project (RSP) of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Victim Rights Law Center, and Stalking Resource Center: A Program of The National Center for Victims of Crime.

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Funding by US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women

This project was supported by Grant No. 2009-TA-AX-K028 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this site or in any materials on this site, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.