Sexual assaults in Minnesota in 2005 resulted in an estimated $8 billion in costs when considering mental health care, criminal justice expenses, and the victims’ lost productivity and quality of life, says a state estimate reported by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Minnesota Department of Health is trying to draw public attention to a problem often shrouded by secrecy and the reluctance of victims to report assaults. By comparison, the economic impact of impaired driving was $2.1 billion. “This lets us say, ‘Wow, this is how big of a problem this is, and we do need to do something about it,’ ” said Mark Kinde, director of the department’s injury and violence prevention unit.
More than $6.4 billion was attributed to suffering and lost quality of life, an economic category based on what juries have awarded to assault victims for their suffering. There were 61,000 sexual-assault victims in the state in 2005, and 30 percent of them were younger than 18. The remaining $1.5 billion in direct costs (including $220 million for state government) covered the criminal justice process and the aftermath, which can include medical bills, sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, substance abuse, suicide attempts and lost productivity.