Rape as an Economic Crime: The Impact of Sexual Violence on Survivors' Employment and Economic Well-Being

J Interpers Violence. 2015 Oct;30(16):2793-813. doi: 10.1177/0886260514554291. Epub 2014 Nov 6.


This article examines how isolated instances of sexual violence affect adult female survivors' employment and economic well-being. This study draws on data from 27 in-depth, qualitative interviews with sexual assault survivors and rape crisis service providers. The findings suggest that sexual assault and the related trauma response can disrupt survivors' employment in several ways, including time off, diminished performance, job loss, and inability to work. By disrupting income or reducing earning power, all of these employment consequences have implications for survivors' economic well-being in the months or years following the assault. In addition, I argue that for many survivors, these employment consequences compound one another and ultimately shift survivors' long-term economic trajectories. By highlighting survivors' lived experiences of the financial aftermath of sexual assault, these findings help to illuminate the processes by which sexual violence decreases survivors' income over the life course. Understanding the financial effects of sexual violence can help researchers better understand and predict the recovery process, while helping practitioners to design more effective interventions for survivors.

Keywords: economic well-being; rape; recovery from sexual violence; sexual assault; sexual assault and employment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Crime Victims / economics*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Rape / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Young Adult