It’s a staggering number. $4.9 billion dollars, that's how much money is spent in Utah every year to cope with sexual violence. The Utah Department of Health released that information Wednesday at the state capital. Good 4 Utah looked over the report to break down the cost of sexual violence.
"This report includes the most comprehensive cost on sexual violence that the state of Utah has ever seen," said Ron Gordon, Executive Director of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice
One after another, specialists, doctors and state employees stepped to the podium to outline the numbers. But it was DeAnn Tilton's story that really put all these facts and figures into perspective.
"The best way I could capture the costs was to start chronologically for me," Tilton said.
As a child, Tilton said she was sexually abused.
"That sets up an entire lifetime of terror, of captivity of deep shame and of isolation," she explained.
Tilton said the abuse affected her education, her career, and of course her personal relationships. It created a ripple effect especially with her immediate family.
"Maybe we have tension or we're arguing at home, he (her husband) might take that into his workplace and it might affect his productivity. My son might take it into his school day. This is just a ripple effect throughout society," she said.
That effect is demonstrated in the numbers released by the Department of Health. In 2011 alone, Utahns spent $4.9 billion coping with sexual violence.
"That’s what shocked me. I was completely blown away that it was costing us that much," Teresa Brechlin said.
Brechlin is the violence prevention coordinator for the department of health. She said much of that money covers costs that most people don't think about.
- In 2011, around $22 million were spent on sexually transmitted infections contracted during a violent encounter.
- Lost work accounted for more than $104 million.
- Suicide or attempted suicide cost the state around $265 million.
- And the big one, lost quality of life, accounted for a staggering $3.9 billion.
That doesn't even count the governmental cost incurred.
- The state spends around $92 Million on charging, prosecuting and imprisoning perpetrators.
- About $16 Million goes towards victim services.
- And only $570 Thousand dollars goes towards prevention.
Gordon said those numbers need to change.
"Now that we have the best data that we've ever had in the state of Utah, we can be aware of it we can be concerned about it and we can do something about it," he said.
That something, could keep Utahns like DeAnn Tilton from ever becoming a victim.
Specialists say the first thing we can all do is have more open discussions with our children. They say, teach them to:
- have respect for others.
- How to be in charge of their own bodies.
- How to cultivate healthy relationships.
To read the entire report, click here.
If you've been the victim of sexual violence, here are links to organizations that can help: