Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Costs of Domestic Violence

Violence touches us all: "...the energy of violence moves through our culture. Some experience it as a light but unpleasant breeze, easy to tolerate. Others are destroyed by it, as if by a hurricane. But nobody - nobody - is untouched." (1)

Even if your own life experience has been free of violence, you need to understand that violence is still a very real part of your life. Not just in the media, not just through your relationships with people you may know who have experienced violence, but even as a taxpayer: 

"Many physically and sexually abused women in Canada suffer from multiple physical health problems directly related to intimate violence. Women harmed by such violence seek medical care more often than do non-victimized women, to such a a degree that in Canada the measurable health-related economic cost of violence against women is roughly $1,539,730,387 per year."  (2)

Consider the amount of work that goes into seeking medical attention for domestic violence: 
Click to view larger image 

If you live in the U.S., the costs are considerably higher. as the picture to the right demonstrates. This is a huge drain on taxpayer money, which could, of course, be spent on so many better things and could improve our respective countries in myriad ways. This is also why it is so imperative to focus on prevention. As women, it is not only important to learn self-defense, but to learn how to read the red flags in your partner, and to have enough confidence in yourself and your self-worth to walk away from any relationship where your partner doesn't treat you the way (s)he should. 

But, there are costs beyond the actual financial drain on our economy. The fact is that women who are abused are also at a higher rate of being murdered by their partners.  Aside from death, there are other long-term physical health consequences of abuse: suicide attempts, chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disease, substance abuse, pregnancy/loss of an existing pregnancy, and a wide-range of reproductive concerns among other problems. 

Even though domestic violence can be a politically divisive issue, it really is important for everyone to understand that it affects everyone. The goal should be to keep healthcare costs for domestic violence down by focusing not only on prevention for women, but on better education for men. 

Folks, no one should ever touch anyone. If you are dating someone who feels that violence is the way that they need to get their point across, it's time to find a partner who is better at communicating, and who respects you enough to treat you appropriately. 

Stay safe! 

(1) deBecker, Gavin. The Gift of Fear. New York: Dell Publishers, 1997, p. 8.
(2) DeKeseredy, Walter. Violence Against Women: Myths, Facts, Controversies, Toronto: UofT Press, p. 95.


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