National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) and Area 23

The Rape Tax

Rape is a vicious crime. In a remarkable injustice, it’s also expensive, with nine out of 10 victims of rape forced to pay an average of $1,000 in hospital bills. 

And most incur charges later, such as STD and pregnancy testing, antibiotics, pain medication, HIV prevention and emergency contraception. 

“It’s like being punched in the gut when you open that mailbox and you see that bill,” one victim said. What’s worse, the costs deter victims from reporting an already underreported crime or seeking treatment.

This campaign aimed to encourage survivors to expose this financial burden. And it sought to connect victims to the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) for help paying these bills.

Because victims are more likely to open up online than in person, a digital platform encouraged them to share their stories, turn them into customized bills and express the hidden costs of being a victim. transformed these bills into defiant statements about the price victims already paid for their sexual assault. 

Creating an online gallery of customized bills, it also turned them into print ads, posters, online videos, press releases and even digital billboards in Times Square. The effort — raw, motivating and victim-centric — reached an estimated 415,000 passersby and achieved an estimated 1.5 million impressions. 

NOVA had a 60% increase in call volume and a 40% increase in site traffic. The effort is on track to waive or return $1 million in rape medical fees this year.