The economic ripple effect of domestic and family violence
When we think of domestic violence, we often think of it as someone else's problem. But in the overall picture, the ripple effect costs everyone. Examples of some of the expenses related to intimate partner violence (IPV) include unpaid medical bills, foster care, lost productivity for employers, increased medical premiums, child protection services, food banks, shelters, housing assistance, religious organizations, therapists for victims and court ordered counseling for perpetrators, lawyers, judges, and victim advocates, prisons, police and probation officers. Unfortunately many efforts are reactionary rather than proactive.
While it's difficult to put a dollar amount on domestic violence, there are estimates. According to the Center for Disease Control, the costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services. The total cost of it also includes nearly $1 billion in lost productivity from paid work and household chores for victims of nonfatal partner abuse and almost $1 billion in lifetime earnings lost by victims of domestic violence homicide. The largest proportion of the costs comes from physical assault because that is the most prevalent. The largest component of domestic violence costs is health care, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the total costs. Because some data is unavailable or insufficient, (e.g., certain medical services, social services, criminal justice services), costs in the report by the CDC are likely to underestimate the problem in the U.S. but they can show the magnitude of it and its impact on our economy.
There is a need for primary prevention - preventing domestic and family violence from occurring in the first place - rather than focusing only on treating victims and rehabilitating perpetrators after abuse has occurred. The CDC has identified several key areas of research for prevention. They include learning how to change social norms that accept intimate partner violence; developing programs for perpetrators and potential perpetrators; increasing our understanding of how violent behaviors toward intimate partners develop; improving collection of data and its health effects; developing and evaluating training programs for health professionals; and implementing strategies that work to prevent it. Knowledge of the laws and possible consequences of domestic violence is another step toward prevention. Until we reduce the incidence of domestic violence in the United States, we will not reduce the economic and social burden to each and every one of us. When we think of it in these terms, perhaps it is "our problem too."
Thelma Soares is the mother of Lori Hacking. She will be the Emery County Domestic Violence Coalition's guest speaker this year for their annual community awareness program. The program will be held on Nov. 4 from 12-1 p.m. at the old court house in Castle Dale. Lunch will be provided by the Coalition. There is no fee and everyone is welcome to attend.
Most of us remember Lori's tragic death which occurred in July of 2004. Lori was married to Mark Hacking and they were expecting their first child. She was 27 years old when she disappeared and was reported missing by her husband. The search for Lori earned national attention before Mark eventually confessed to the murder. He had lied to Lori and her family about graduating from the University of Utah and being accepted into medical school in North Carolina. Lori graduated cum laude from the University of Utah business school in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in management. She worked at American Express and later at Wells Fargo. One of Lori's professors said she was a gentle person of high integrity and compassion. Another stated she was dedicated to continuous learning and service. Lori had accomplished much in her life and was looking forward to her future.
Lori died as a result of the ultimate domestic violence act. Her death reminds us of the possible lethal consequences of family violence. In 2008, 22 victims of family violence died in Utah at the hands of those they loved and trusted.
Thelma will speak about her experience in coping with Lori's death and the affects on her family, community, and country. Her story is compelling and heartfelt.
Thelma was born and raised in Delta, Utah, and graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in business education and office management and a Utah secondary teaching credential. Upon graduation, Thelma left for Brazil where she lived two years serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, becoming fluent in Portuguese.
She later worked for the Foreign Language League and lived one summer in Paris, France, managing their office in that city. After marrying, Thelma moved to Southern California where she attended Cal State LA and UCLA, earning a California secondary teaching credential. Thelma taught English and English as a Second Language there. In 1988 she returned to Utah and worked 20 years for LDS Philanthropies-BYU, retiring in September, 2008.
Please join us for our Nov. 4 program. If you would like more information on domestic violence, call Kathy at 381-4743.