The Economic Impact of Domestic Violence

This past week in “Violence- A multidisciplinary Inquiry,” guest lecturer Phaedra Corso discussed the cost of violence. Looking beyond the obvious lost of a life, Corso encouraged the class to consider the economic impacts of violence. In my previous post on religion and violence, I focus on religious justification for intimate partner violence. As a Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies major, I am more inclined to consider the feminist perspective on issues, and this blog is no exception.

The effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) in regards to the psychological and physical burdens on the victims and surrounding children are immense. However, considering Corso’s lecture, I was intrigued to think beyond those immediate outcomes. I began to question the consequences  of IPV on the broader population. A BBC news article gave me the numbers I was looking for while also acknowledging that the accurateness of these statistics is difficult to measure.

One of the primary points made in the article is that violence against young girls and women is more than a public health issue because it is suspected significantly decline economic growth.

… a study by UN Women looked not only at women’s loss of earnings, and out of pocket expenses – for medical treatment, police support, legal aid, counselling and judicial support – but also at lost school fees, with children missing school due to the violence inflicted on their mothers. The cost? Nearly 1.4% of Vietnam’s GDP.

This statement emphasizes the importance of the proper use OF public education funds. Domestic violence not only affects these families by limiting their children’s education, but also by limiting the effectiveness of the system of education itself. This may seem trivial when considering only one student missing class, but consider an extreme.  What if every child in one class missed school on the same day for one reason or another. The amount of money going into paying the teacher, principle, electricity bills, water bills, and other finances related to schooling would be wasted. Though absence of all students is more than likely not the case, it is important to consider the funds wasted when a child chronically misses school due to the violent climate in their home.

Direct medical costs plus productivity losses amounted to between 1.6% and 2% of gross domestic product annually – that’s about the average annual public spending on primary education in a range of developing countries.

This statistic highlights the loss of economic potential for children who would have benefited from those funds towards primary education.  We see here then that domestic violence does not only affect the children who witness the altercations, but children who are completely ignorant to the violent situation as well.

The long-term economic impacts discussed in the article primarily discuss the “Cycle of Abuse.” That is, a child who witnesses intimate partner violence is on average 2 to 3 times more likely to either become a perpetrator or victim in their own relationships, which yields a repeat of the same economic devastation that we’ve already discussed. Another important long-term economic impact is the correlation between domestic violence and terminal illness.

American children from a violent home are two to three times more likely to suffer from cancer, a stroke or heart disease and five to 10 times more likely to abuse alcohol.

With this is mind, the economic impact on the healthcare system cannot be completely isolated from the economic impact on education in regards to domestic violence. The article finishes with several ways to heal our broken system and end domestic violence. I simply want to encourage readers of this blog to resist the urge to mind your own business when you suspect domestic violence/intimate partner violence. Consider the victims in the home, the victims in the school, and yourself. Where do you fit into this system that is economically affected by domestic violence?

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