The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is working to eliminate all forms of sexual violence and to advocate for the rights and needs of victims of sexual assault.

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Poverty and Sexual Violence

Research shows an undeniable link between poverty and sexual violence. Sexual violence can jeopardize a person's economic wellbeing, often leading to homelessness, unemployment, interrupted education and health, mental health, and other daily stressors and struggles. In turn, living without one's basic needs met can increase a person's risk for sexual victimization. Perpetrators of sexual violence target individuals who seem vulnerable-whether due to gender, age, race, disability, sexual orientation, immigration status, income, or other reason; they exploit victims and survivors caught in Catch-22 situations created by poverty. 

Poverty is among the root causes of sexual violence and has a daily presence in the lives of many victims and survivors. Therefore, the thread of economic advocacy must be woven throughout the fabric of all intervention and prevention efforts. Economic advocacy is a social justice issue and among the philosophical building blocks of the rape crisis movement. Many advocates already engage in economic advocacy-whether they call it that or not-because it has been an ongoing need of victims, survivors, and communities. 

Economic advocacy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. There is no single model or technique that will work for every person or group. The voices and experiences of victims, survivors, and communities must guide the work every step of the way. Having said that, there are principles and critical questions that can help shape the work. 


  • Poverty increases people's vulnerabilities to sexual exploitation in the workplace, schools, and in prostitution, sex trafficking, and the drug trade (Jewkes, Sen, Garcia-Moreno, 2002).
  • People with the lowest socioeconomic status are at greater risk for violence (Jewkes, Sen, Garcia-Moreno, 2002).
  • Individual who lack sufficient economic resources to meet their basic needs may have to barter for essential goods with sex as a way to survive (Jewkes, Sen, Garcia-Moreno, 2002).  






Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape * 125 N. Enola Dr. * Enola, PA 17025 * (717) 728-9740 * (800) 692-7445 * TTY (877) 585-1091

24-hour Information and Referral: 1-888-772-PCAR

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