Kitty Lindsay
April 22, 2017 3:40 pm

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and if you needed another example of all the messed up ways rape culture touches every part of our lives, here’s one: Sexual assault survivors are footing the bill for their own rape kits.

It’s a sad but true fact according a new study published by the American Journal of Public Health, which found that, on average, privately insured women pay nearly $1,000 (some 14 percent of their total bill!) out of pocket for healthcare administered post-rape.

Led by three women with the Department of Health Professions at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, the study looked at the hospital bills of women who had sought emergency room help in 2013 in the wake of their rapes. Identifying 1,355 cases of assault in that year alone, researchers discovered that the women and their insurance providers doled out over $9 million in after-care services, with each rape averaging $6,737 in cost.

And that just covers rape kits administered on-site, day of. Thirty-two women returned to the hospital after their initial visit for follow-up care, paying upwards of $800 for inpatient services, on average. Outpatient costs saw patients paying around $500 less. Did we mention this is all in addition to prescription drug costs and prescription refills at $48 a pop?

“With other violent crimes, victims are not responsible for paying for the damage that results from the crime,” the study’s lead author, Ashley Tennessee, told Reuters. “Many people know sexual assault is an issue, but they’re often unaware that victims have to pay for associated medical charges.”

Though states are required to cover the cost of rape kits under the Violence Against Women Act, the fees vary state by state and rarely cover additional procedures and medications necessary to effectively treating survivors of sexual assault.

“This financial burden adds to the emotional burden of sexual assault,” Tennessee said. “This is an area that society has missed, and we have a moral right to help victims.”

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