In the majority of domestic violence situations, an individual is victimized by an intimate partner.
Sexual violence, physical violence, and stalking in interpersonal relationships can cause irreparable harm, increasing an individual’s risk of developing significant health issues such as physical injuries and mental health disorders. Some common short- and long-term symptoms of this type of domestic abuse include broken bones, memory loss, chronic conditions, disordered eating, and suicide ideation, among others.
Intimate partner violence often goes undetected and unaddressed, but the impact is severe, impacting the individual, their community, and the nation at large.
The economic costs of intimate partner violence
Like all forms of domestic violence, intimate partner violence is a devastating and costly public health issue. According to an American Journal of Preventive Medicine study, the lifetime cost of intimate partner violence is $103,767 per female and $23,414 per male.
With 43 million Americans having a history of victimization, that adds up to a lifetime total of $3.6 trillion, of which government sources pay 37 percent. The costliest factor is medical costs.
Physical and mental recovery following domestic violence is often lifelong. Many survivors lose their support systems and undergo complex psychological distress, a Journal of Interpersonal Violence study finds, making it difficult for them to be self-reliant and attain or retain a job.
One study found that survivors of intimate partner violence lose eight million days of paid work each year. This has a direct and long-term impact on the overall workforce.
The perpetuation of domestic violence
Domestic violence impacts every community in the United States, but some communities—and some individuals—may be more susceptible than others. According to the CDC, numerous factors contribute to the ongoing problem of intimate partner violence. These include, but are not limited to:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Unhealthy family relationships
- Lack of neighborhood support
- Poor health
- Low-quality education
No one is immune to domestic violence. It can impact any household, regardless of income and demographic. However, individuals living in low-income communities who have minimal support may find themselves emotionally or financially dependent on their abuser and lacking the resources they need to leave, such as money or housing. When an individual is undereducated, depressed, misusing alcohol, isolated, or experiencing any number of social challenges, escaping an abusive situation successfully can seem incomprehensible, if not impossible.
Many survivors of intimate partner violence endure years of psychological abuse before getting the community-wide support they need. This then delays interventions and diagnoses, which delays treatment and recovery. This affects the survivor’s long-term health and mental health outcomes, as well as the overall health of their community.
Building a community response to support survivors
Intimate partner violence is far too common. Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, which equates to more than 10 million men and women per year.
Survivors of domestic violence need a tremendous amount of support, including:
- Medical attention
- Psychological support
- Criminal justice services
- Legal services
- Financial assistance
- Emergency shelter
- Housing assistance
- Food assistance
- Transportation costs
One of the best prevention strategies for combatting intimate partner violence, according to the CDC, is implementing an integrated Coordinated Community Response (CCR), which is comprised of several cross-sector collaborators, such as law enforcement, legal agencies, social service providers, and healthcare systems.
In many cases, abusers refuse to leave the side of their victims, making it difficult to not only address the suspected abuse, but offer immediate help. When providers have direct relationships with community organizations, then interventions are more likely to occur.
Without cross-sector collaborations, signs and symptoms may go unrecognized, unreported, or unaddressed. Rather than simply asking a patient if they need help, should a clinician suspect domestic violence, they should be able to provide reliable and readily available services.
The Institute of Medicine, United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and many national healthcare organizations agree that a systematic approach in the healthcare system is critical to preventing intimate partner violence and intervening before it becomes life-threatening.
For this approach to be successful, healthcare-community partners, and other cross-sector stakeholders, should implement technological interventions to make data sharing possible. The more information that can be shared, the easier it will be to detect the risk of interpersonal violence and intervene before the situation becomes deadly.
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