The Cost of Domestic Violence: Dollars and Sense

The Cost of Domestic Violence: Dollars and Sense

The impact of domestic violence on victims and their loved ones is dramatic: the National Coalition for Domestic Violence reports that for victims of domestic violence, “almost one-third of all female homicide victims that are reported in police records were killed by an intimate partner,” and for the children of these victims, “witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.”  Beyond the emotional, physical, and mental impact that domestic violence has on the one in four women who will experience such violence in their lifetime, domestic violence is a significant public health issue with far-reaching effects that negatively impact our economy on both state and federal levels.

In “Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States,” the National Center for Injury and Prevention Control reported that:

“The costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services. The total costs of IPV [intimate partner violence] also include nearly $0.9 billion in lost productivity from paid work and household chores for victims of nonfatal IPV and $0.9 billion in lifetime earnings lost by victims of IPV homicide.”

Intervention programs aimed at preventing domestic violence, however, have been shown to save money both nationally and for individual states. The Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Domestic Violence against Women and Girls posted a Case Study on civil orders of protection, or OFP, in Kentucky, that was conducted in 2009 by the United States Department of Justice. The study concluded that “[the] cost to society of a protective order is very small (about $354) when compared to the many costs that a victim of domestic abuse incurs,” which averaged “$17,500 for the 6 months of violence before an OFP was issued [and] $13,000 for the 6 month period after an OFP was issued.”  Based on their findings, “the study reported that protective orders saved the state of Kentucky $85 million in one year.”

On a federal level, The Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, has also aided domestic violence survivors as well as the United States economy since its first authorization in 1994. A study entitled “A Cost-Benefit Analysis of The Violence Against Women Act,” published in the April 2002 issue of the Violence Against Women Journal, found that “while [VAWA] cost $15.50 per U.S. woman…it saved $159 per U.S. woman in averted costs of criminal victimization” and “using minimum possible costs for the various crimes that did not occur, the act resulted in $47 saved per woman and $4.8 billion saved overall.” Unfortunately, the current version of VAWA expired under the 112th Congress, but you can show your support for an inclusive VAWA and help push the 113th Congress to action. For more information on VAWA, check out the White House’s VAWA Fact Sheet, and visit Break the Cycle‘s website to learn more about what you can do to help.


By Katie Bieze, Outreach Intern

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