This Powerful Video Shows The Real Cost Of Sexual Assault

September 17th 2015

This week, women's rights group Ultraviolet released a powerful video titled "The cost of rape." The video not only reveals an estimated $151,423 fiscal cost of coping with the aftermath of a sexual assault, but also shows the immense emotional costs of such trauma.

While the video acknowledges that this is a lot of money, it says the profound impact sexual assault has on a victim's life is far more damaging. The clip shows an animation of a female victim as she endures the unbearable aftereffects of her sexual assault. The background shifts, but this woman remains in place as she's met with a slew of hypothetical situations that could occur following her sexual assault: "were you drinking?" "it's too soon to know if you're pregnant, and if you are pregnant, well, the options are limited;" "I'm not sure we have enough evidence to press charges."

The video also confronts the difficulty of recovering from college sexual assault, if one's attacker is still on campus. Ultraviolet highlights the reality that some women may be encouraged to transfer schools to stay away from their rapist even though they shouldn't have to leave the institution to properly heal.

Towards the end of the video, the narrator explains that 23 states give custody rights to rapists, which could potentially add another layer of difficultly for women who become pregnant through rape and decide to keep the child. The clip concludes by noting that rape victims may face trouble in healthy relationships as a result of this trauma.

"Something like this will happen to one in five women on campus," the video says. "For the unlucky among us, the emotional, psychological, health, and economic impacts can last a lifetime."

The aim of this video is to demonstrate the horrors women can face in the aftermath of rape, and ultimately put an end to sexual assault. However, the video neglects to mention that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes. The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 68 percent of sexual assaults are not reported.

Women may potentially not report sexual assault because of the scenarios presented in the video—the difficulty of prosecuting rape, along with the emotional trauma of having to discuss the subject with college administrators, therapists, doctors, and future partners. However, despite the bleak picture portrayed by the video, this is not to suggest that women should stay silent or not report sexual assault. The takeaway should be that campuses, the criminal justice system, friends, family, and future partners need to examine their treatment of rape survivors, build empathy, promote better education, and fundamentally change the way sexual assault is viewed and handled.

The "It's On Us" campaign.

This comes a few weeks after the White House released a star-studded anti-rape PSA called "It's On Us: One Thing." The "one thing" all the celebrities in the clip are talking about is consensual sex.

The video is part of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's larger "It's On Us" movement that aims to prevent sexual assault on college campuses. As noted in the Ultraviolet video, one in five undergraduate women experience an attempted or completed sexual assault while they're in college, according to a 2007 U.S. Department of Justice study.

As ATTN: previously noted, It's important that the president and other public figures continue stressing the importance of consent. Earlier this year, Inside Higher Ed released its fifth annual Survey of College and University Presidents, which reported that one third of college presidents understand that campus sexual assault is prevalent in the American college system. Only 6 percent of the surveyed college presidents, however, think sexual assault is prevalent on their own campuses.

"'It’s On Us' recognizes that the solution to sexual assault begins with all of us," a White House release states. "It seeks to reframe the conversation surrounding sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as his or her responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it."

For more information on the problem of campus sexual assault, watch our short video on the issue:


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