Tolerance of domestic violence has huge economic impact

Whilst domestic violence has long been a serious concern in the US, beyond the social impact some experts and activists are also examining the economic impact.

The direct medical, mental and health services costs for victims of domestic abuse exceeds $5.8 billion annually, said Sarah Perry, executive director of The Second Step, an organization that provides assistance to survivors of domestic violence.

“Assuming the average age for new parents is 25, it means the US spends $145 billion in treating abused spouses each generation. Productivity is also severely damaged by domestic abuse. Spouses and intimate partners lost 8 million work days thanks to domestic abuse, the equivalent of the US losing 32,000 jobs,” Perry told the Global Times.

Domestic violence is not always physical. The bruises they suffer on the inside — the loss of autonomy, lack of self-worth and debilitating fear — are more traumatizing than the bruises on the outside, said Perry.

Data also suggests that exposure to domestic violence has long-term consequences for children’s well-being, ultimately affecting their adult functioning. Up to 10 to 20 percent children in the US see abuse of a parent or caregiver annually.

It is an issue that seriously affects migrants.

“Many Chinese immigrant women have language barriers that prevent them from seeking help through US justice and legal assistance,” Kristen Liu, executive director of the New York-based Garden of Hope (GoH), said to the Global Times.

The organization receives phone calls from victims across the country. Professionally trained counselors not only try to understand the situations faced by the victims, they also use appropriate laws and information on social security to bring hope to the hopeless, Liu told the Global Times.

“We serve about 220 to 280 cases a year. The biggest challenge, however, is financial resources. All of our financial support comes from the local community,” Liu said.

Author Barry Goldstein, who is working on the book The Quincy Solution: Stop Domestic Violence and Save $500 Billion, said that society’s tolerance of men’s abuse of women has a huge economic impact on society but the extent is not well known because research has only recently seriously begun to cover the issue.

Goldstein said that his book would list a series of practices that could help save $500 billion annually.

According to his predictions, most of the savings would come from a reduction in healthcare costs, crime and the increased ability of women, children and abusers to reach their economic potential.

This article was published in Global Times (US Edition) on July 25.

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