There are two ways (at least) finances come into the picture with child sex abuse.  First, there is the cost of sex abuse to the victims and society.  Both are astronomically high and argue strongly for a strong dose of prevention.  These figures also show us how important it is for victims and their families to manage their finances so as to be able to secure the therapy and medical treatment that can arise from child traumatization and the secondary traumatization family can experience.

Second, CHILD USA works very hard to ensure victims of sex abuse receive justice through statute of limitations reform as you can see here.  The American system permits those who have been harmed to sue the people and institutions who harmed them.  The compensation the victims receive is to make up for the hurt done to them.  It’s all about accountability.  And it’s just fair!

One of our concerns is that survivors get thrown into lawsuits and settlements through statute of limitations reform or institutions declaring bankruptcy, and suddenly, they have compensation.  Yet, they may well still be dealing with the effects of the abuse and aren’t prepared to make decisions about funds that, frankly, will likely be needed in the future.  Under rules of professional responsibility, the survivors’ lawyers cannot recommend financial advisors to them.  Too often, the survivor receives a check but does may make the most-informed decisions for investment or savings for the future.

Sometimes survivors view the funds they receive from those who caused their abuse as tainted, and throw them away, or think they can only use them to help others.   If the settlement becomes public, too often, “friends” or long-lost family members will show up out of the blue to ask for “loans” or other help.  My advice to victims is that they don’t have to tell the public how much they received in a settlement.  That’s their private information.  And usually, it’s not productive to publicize it. The truth is that most survivors should consider how to protect these funds for their own future needs, and the future of their families.  Trauma has a way of revisiting one, and having a financial cushion can be a comfort.

May you find true justice and healing.

— Prof. Marci Hamilton, Founder/CEO of CHILD USA

Resources and Information 

Morgan Stanley's Financial Wellness

If you received a settlement, or may, CHILD USA asked Morgan Stanley to put together a trauma-informed system for you to explore your financial options safely.  Talking to them does not cost anything or obligate you to work with them, but it can help guide you to ensure your future is financially protected. Click here to explore the educational content Morgan Stanley has to offer.


Child sexual abuse survivors deal with bankruptcy, old evidence after laws extend statute of limitations

by Kevin McCoy

This article discusses the decisions and challenges survivors of child sexual abuse are now facing as they take advantage of the recent legal changes extending statutes of limitations in states across the country.

The Cost of Child Sex Abuse

CHILD USA’s Factsheet explaining the cost of child sexual abuse and our recommendations.

Costs of Child Abuse and Neglect Rival Other Major Public Health Problems

by CDC

Brief summary explaining the cost of child maltreatment.

The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States

by Cora Peterson,Curtis Florence, and Joanne Klevens

This journal article recommends methods to update previous (2008) estimates of 1) the per-victim lifetime cost, and 2) the annual US population economic burden of child maltreatment.

Financial Impact of Child Sex Abuse - TED Talk

by Chris Newlin

Head of the National Child Advocacy Centers, Chris Newlin, lays out the facts on how child sex abuse inflicts costs on individuals and society.

Who Gets What

by Ken Feinberg

In Who Gets What? Feinberg reveals the deep thought that must go into compensation decisions, not to mention the most important question that arises after a tragedy: why compensate at all? The result is a remarkably accessible discussion of the practical and philosophical problems of using money as a way to address wrongs and reflect individual worth.