Home Financial responsibility YOWELL: U.Va. must financially support student survivors of sexual assault – The Cavalier Daily

YOWELL: U.Va. must financially support student survivors of sexual assault – The Cavalier Daily


The University has a long history of sexual violence. University founder Thomas Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Sally Hemings that can only be defined as rape. Hemings was only 14 when Jefferson was 44 – and to state the obvious, he owned it by law. Hemings was unable to give or withhold consent. It was also not rare for the first students of the University – exclusively white men at the time – to aggression the enslaved servants around Grounds. Given this violence, one can easily trace the lineage of sexual violence on and around Grounds. With an honor system that doesn’t judge sexual assault case, a verycritical Title IX Office and a well established failure story survivorsthere was plenty requests change the University’s relationship with sexual violence. One of the immediate and effective ways for the University to support survivors of sexual assault on grounds is to ensure that they are not left with the financial burden of their assault. The University should establish an easily accessible and comprehensive fund to immediately pay survivors’ hospital bills.

rape is valued to have the highest annual cost to victims of all crimes, amounting to approximately $127 billion per year not including child sexual abuse cases. For reference, the estimated annual cost of assault victims is around $93 billion, murder is estimated at around $61 billion, and child abuse is around $56 billion. While federal law stipulates that victims of sexual assault do not have to pay for their physical examination following a rape, which often consists of a rape kit, there is ambiguity about how this is applied and where the money comes from to compensate hospitals. For example, some states use money victims of crime law, while others benefit from the budgets of public bodies, such as law enforcement agencies or prosecutors’ offices.

the Contents said exam also vary from state to state. The bare minimum requires that “the patient be interviewed and examined for physical trauma, penetration or force, and that evidence be collected and evaluated.” However, the law does not require states to pay for emergency contraceptive pills, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy or STD tests, treatment for physical injuries, mental health care, or transportation costs. by ambulance. Although some states, such as New York, exceed the minimum and cover some of these treatment options, not all do, and none are required to. from Virginia SAFE payment program allows hospitals to bill the program directly if and only if the victim chooses to have evidence collected. If the victim requires treatment beyond the scope of the collection of evidence, he will be personally billed for said treatment. In some cases, however, they may receive reimbursement for HIV prevention treatment only. Therefore, while some survivors are not charged for the actual collection of evidence, they are still charged for other necessary treatment, and any survivors who choose not to have a rape kit prepared will be charged for all medical care.

Moreover, it is not rare so that the survivors “slip through the cracks”. This is often due to increased billing automation in hospitals, which results in many rape victims being illegally billed for rape kits. In 2018, for example, the New York Attorney General’s Office announcement that 200 sexual assault survivors had each been illegally billed amounts ranging from $46 to $3,000 at seven different hospitals. Additionally, a study of 1,355 sexual assault survivors with health insurance showed that the average cost of a rape in the first 30 days after the assault is $948. This represents 14% of the total cost of treatment, with the remaining 86% being paid by insurance companies. These charges were brought legally, meaning sexual assault survivors — even with established financial protections — still end up with significant economic burdens after their assault.

It should also be noted that if these women had not had health insurance, the average treatment costs would total well over $948. Additionally, some survivors while searching privacy do not file claims with their health insurance providers for fear that loved ones with the same insurance plan will find out about the charges and ask questions. Therefore, one can see how systematic failures leave survivors without sufficient financial protection for the costs incurred as a result of their sexual assault. This is where the University comes in.

The University not only has the opportunity to finally do something good for survivors of sexual assault on or around Grounds – it has a responsibility. The University’s harrowing history of sexual violence will never be reconciled – however, it doesn’t have to be perpetuated either. The university administration must use the abundant resources available to ease the financial burden on victims of sexual assault and to cover all treatment-related costs. This includes students who experience sexual violence on or off the field, such as around the corner or in off-campus housing.

While providing the financial resources to support survivors is a necessary step, it does not absolve the University of other obligations to survivors, such as seeking justice, nor does it replace prevention. It is important to remember that there are many pieces to the puzzle — the University must answer all requests. However, the creation of this fund for survivors of sexual assault is a measure of action that we must demand of the University. Financially covering the treatment of survivors is one avenue the University can take to begin to end its cycle of ignoring or allowing sexual violence.

Hailey Yowell is an opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at [email protected]

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. The columns represent the opinions of the authors only.