Domestic Violence Is A Crisis That Government Should Take More Seriously

Domestic Violence Is A Crisis That Government Should Take More Seriously

Domestic violence is an issue that makes society exceedingly uncomfortable. It’s easy to observe that this is the case because no one knows how to handle it in any way, shape, or form. The public sees a story about, say, a sports star throwing his significant other around an elevator and knocking her unconscious. Or an unreasonably jealous spouse murders his wife & children before taking his own life. What happens? Outrage, a few angry newspaper editorials, disappointment that nothing is being done, regret that (it’s believed, anyway) there’s nothing that Average Joes/Janes can do, and then…silence. Members of the general public go about their normal, daily lives.

So does law enforcement. And so do government officials. For the latter, that’s a real problem.

Domestic violence has been a problem for far too long — one to which the United States only began paying legal attention in 1984 when the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) began the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program with the first federal funding for emergency shelter and services for domestic violence victims and their children. 

From there, the Centers for Disease Control began to collect information on intimate partner violence (another term for domestic violence). Ten years later, the Violence Against Women Act was established; it authorized the opening of a 24-hour toll-free hotline for victims and funding for women’s shelters. 

In 2010, included in the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — President Barack Obama’s signature achievement — were provisions that would specifically benefit domestic violence victims. The ACA prevents insurers from classifying domestic violence as a preexisting condition and denying coverage accordingly. It covers counseling for domestic violence victims, and it requires coverage of mental health & substance abuse treatment. 

Despite these very helpful strides forward, domestic violence remains a problem that the public sees as primarily private. I challenge that assumption with a dollar value: $55 billion

That is the estimated amount that it costs the United States government to deal with the effects of childhood exposure to domestic violence. See, if there is one thing that we can count on that’ll cause our officials to sound the alarm, it is money. More specifically, how much is going out towards any given cause. Here is a bit more of a breakdown of that number:

By the time a child exposed to domestic violence reaches age 64, the individual cost to the US economy will reach nearly $50,000 across these three categories:

  • Health Care ($11,042)
  • Violent Crimes ($13,922)
  • Productivity ($25,531)

If more than 25% of children (15.5 million per year) are exposed to domestic violence every year, then the amount that we are spending on the effects of this devastating situation is colossal. In an entire decade, if we take the statistic of $55 billion yearly as our baseline, we’d spend $550 billion on the aftereffects of domestic violence childhood exposure. That is over 1/2 trillion dollars. 

And that’s not all. The Violence Against Women Act faces constant resistance in the United States Congress. In fact, just this year, the renewal of the act was dropped due to negotiations to avoid another government shutdown. It escapes me why public officials do not see it as reasonable to do as much as they can to prevent domestic violence from occurring in the first place; instead, they choose to let it happen and figure that they’ll throw tens of billions at the issue when it does. 

I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of things that I can do with 1/2 trillion dollars in a span of ten years. That’s not to say that I do not see it as important to take care of the vulnerable in our country. Of course I want them to be prioritized. I see it as perplexing, though, that our government wouldn’t want to save money by employing preventative measures like the Violence Against Women Act — and more. 

The most important thing to realize here is that domestic violence victims need our help. They can face so many lingering struggles from simply having gone through an abusive relationship — from both short and long-term health struggles to drawn-out court battles & financial difficulties. Their safety and well-being should be the top priority of anyone wanting to help them to get back on their feet. 

Barring actual concern about the suffering of its citizens, however, surely members of the government can find it in their hearts to care about the massive amounts of capital being spent on domestic violence because the country has chosen to take a reactive stance on treatment. Just think: the money that we save by being proactive about this devastating public health crisis could be put towards our military! (sarcasm) Or a proxy war, which is basically more military funding! (also sarcasm)

Or, you know, making America a livable country for all of its citizens, regardless of country of origin, gender, economic background, political persuasion, or age. (zero sarcasm whatsoever)

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