When we talk about domestic violence, we often mention the emotional and psychological costs for victims and their families. However, there are financial costs, too. How much does domestic violence cost individuals, families, and society as a whole?
Tracking Domestic Violence Cases
Unfortunately, domestic abuse is a reality in America. Abuse can happen to anyone, anywhere, in any home in the country.
Because abuse is often hidden and underreported, we don’t have accurate data regarding how many victims experience abuse every year. However, victims who seek help and report their abuse help shed light on this serious and potentially life-threatening problem.
Abuse has serious consequences for the victims and their families: emotional trauma, physical injury, financial instability, and even homelessness. However, domestic abuse doesn’t just impact the survivors and their families. It affects our entire society. There’s an economic cost to domestic violence – and it’s more severe than you might think.
The Cost to Individual Victims and Families
Victims of domestic violence not only suffer physical and emotional trauma, but can also face severe financial consequences, too.
We’re not talking about economic abuse, though that can certainly make leaving an abusive relationship even more difficult. Instead, we’re talking about the financial cost for victims of domestic abuse.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), 64% of victims say that the abuse they experience impacts their ability to do their jobs. In fact, a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that domestic abuse victims lose an estimated 8 million days of work each year – the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
But job disruption is only the beginning. Victims of domestic abuse are also much more likely to need medical attention or mental health counseling. Another IWPR study found that women in abusive relationships are more likely to experience long-term medical problems, like gynecological issues, sexually transmitted infections, gastrointestinal issues, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress. Each of these medical problems requires potentially expensive treatment. Abuse victims can expect their healthcare expenses to be about 42% higher on average than those who have not experienced abuse.
Job loss, reduced wages, and high medical costs can lead to economic insecurity, which only makes leaving the abusive environment that much more difficult.
The Economic Impact of Domestic Violence
Domestic abuse impacts the entire society. Because victims of abuse are more likely to miss work, causing a huge economic impact on business across the country. Every lost workday represents lost wages, lost productivity, and potentially lost jobs for these victims. Over time, these losses add up, impacting the entire American economy.
In total, domestic violence, stalking, and other forms of abuse cost the United States an estimated $9.3 billion, including healthcare costs, lost wages, and public program funding. Even those who do not experience abuse first-hand are undoubtedly affected by this financial impact.
The Cost of Providing Support
The economic impacts go beyond the home and medical centers. Survivors who leave their abuse environments often need financial, emotional, and logistical support. Many domestic abuse shelters offer women a safe place to stay, plus services and resources to help her get back on her feet.
Shelters like our nonprofit partner Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) in Dane County, WI play an integral role in helping survivors overcome their abuse. But these services come at a cost. Each shelter operates housing support, counseling services, loan or donation centers, and a host of other programs. Volunteers fill some of these roles, but many require trained, paid staff to operate effectively. In addition, these shelters have overhead costs like utilities, marketing costs, rent payments, and other expenses.
Each shelter relies heavily on donations from the community. You can help keep these shelters open – and therefore keep survivors safe – by contributing to your local domestic abuse shelter. Donate your time, your talents, or yes, your financial resources if you are able. Every donation matters in protecting victims of domestic violence.Want to learn more about WodBottom’s commitment to helping survivors? Read our story here!