Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Economic Consequences of Sexual Violence for Survivors: Implications for Social Policy and Social Change
by Loya, Rebecca Marie, Ph.D., Brandeis University, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, 2012, 286; 3540084
Abstract (Summary)

This study examined whether the myriad known consequences of sexual violence, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), together with costs like counseling bills, affect survivors' economic wellbeing. This study responds to the central research question, "What are the economic effects of sexual violence for survivors, and how do assets, services, and policies affect recovery?"

This research was informed by trauma theory, asset theory, and intersectionality. This study was conducted using a mixed-methods design. Interviews were conducted with rape crisis service providers and survivors of rape or sexual assault. A grounded theory approach was used for analysis. The quantitative analysis included an examination the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (CPES) data. Analyses included linear and logistic regression models for the effects of rape on income and low-income status, including differences by race/ethnicity.

The qualitative findings offer evidence of a range of expenses and economic consequences associated with sexual violence, such as medical bills and mental health issues. Sexual violence frequently triggered changes in educational attainment, occupation, and earnings, which negatively affected survivors' short- and long-term economic stability. Survivors of color, low-income survivors, and immigrants faced numerous additional burdens and barriers in the pathway to recovery.

The quantitative findings show that survivors of rape also had lower household income, even when controlling for demographic variables. The effects of rape may attenuate over time, as rape within the past 20 years had a stronger effect on income than did rape overall. Rape may act on income through mental health symptoms, specifically PTSD. Unexpectedly, rape had significant, negative effects on income for non-Hispanic white survivors, while women of color had no such effect. Black and Latina women had significantly lower income than white participants, regardless of their victimization status.

In terms of recovery, financial assets served as a crucial bridge to economic recovery by covering unexpected expenses and increasing flexibility. Those without access to assets relied on social welfare policies, such as cash assistance and subsidized housing. However, existing policies, while offering crucial supports, do not adequately address the needs of sexual assault survivors. Recommendations are provided for both policy reform and new policies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shapiro, Thomas
Commitee: Boguslaw, Janet, Ritter, Grant, Seidman, Ilene
School: Brandeis University, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management
Department: The Heller School for Social Policy and Management
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mental health, Womens studies, Economics, Public policy
Keywords: Assets, Consequences, Economic impacts, Public policy, Rape, Sexual violence, Survivors
Publication Number: 3540084
ISBN: 978-1-267-64684-2
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