Sunday, June 7, 2015

United States: The Consequences of Violence and Abuse

Domestic violence, abuse, harassment, and stalking have a multitude of individual and societal consequences. At the societal level, female victims of intimate partner violence over the age of 18 in
the United States lose about 5.6 million days of household productivity and nearly eight million days
of paid work each year, which amounts to approximately 32,000 full-time jobs. In 1995, the most recent year for which an estimate is available, the costs of domestic violence in the United States were estimated to be $5.8 billion, with $4.1 billion paying for direct medical and mental health services (the study did not include civil and criminal justice costs; Max et al. 2004). In 2015 dollars, these costs would be about $8.9 billion, with approximately $6.3 billion for direct medical and mental health services.*
Violence and abuse also have profound psychological, health, and social consequences for victims. In
the short-term, these forms of harm can result in serious physical injuries. These injuries, however, are only a part of the consequences many women face: the ongoing and controlling nature of abuse can lead victims to experience a range of chronic physical conditions, such as frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty sleeping, and activities limitations (Black et al. 2011). Survivors may also experience mental health problems such as depression, suicidality, and posttraumatic stress disorder (Black et al. 2011; Golding 1999); in addition, violence and abuse are associated with negative health behaviors, including smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and substance abuse (McNutt et al. 2002). Over time, the negative physical and mental health outcomes that survivors may experience can interfere with their daily functioning, disrupting their employment and other dimensions of their lives (Loya 2014). In some instances, the unaddressed psychological and social effects of violence and abuse can lead to an ongoing cycle of harm. Research indicates, for instance, that girls who experience physical violence are more likely to be victimized as adults (Whitfield et al. 2003).

* IWPR calculations using the CPI-U index from the U.S. Department of Labor. The cost due to medical and mental health services needed is likely to be higher than estimated here because medical care expenditures in the CPI-U outplaced overall inflation by 27 percent between 1995 and 2015.

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