Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised that the article below might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence, which could be triggering.
If you are experiencing any kind of abuse or violence at home or elsewhere, you can anonymously call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for advice and assistance.
With domestic violence on the news so often, it's natural to wonder what effects, if any, domestic violence has on society. Domestic violence still exists today, even if several laws are in place to protect everyone's welfare. This article will cover how domestic violence tends to dismantle families, disrupting communities (and even society) on a wider scale.
Domestic violence happens between intimate partners and families. Regardless of sexual orientation, marital status, or socio-economic status of families, domestic violence is characterized by repetitive and patterned acts of dominance and coercion. The abuser(s) often uses different tactics to make their weaker counterparts submit to them and exercise power and control over them. These include intimidation, economic deprivation, isolation, and all forms of abuse - physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, and psychological.
In most cases, domestic violence often affects the weaker individual(s) in the relationship or family - women, children, the disabled, and the elderly. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, one out of three women worldwide experience domestic violence in the form of sexual and physical abuse. The same study shows that 1 in 9 men experience domestic violence, as well. In worse cases, the morbidity of domestic violence is high, and it is estimated that more than 10,000 individuals die each year due to domestic violence.
Domestic violence articles are filled with news about a wife battered beyond recognition, yet survivors don't talk about it with anyone that can help. It also isn't always so obvious as this. Although movies, TV shows, and ads depict a battered individual, the signs of domestic abuse can often be hidden and hard to spot if you don't know what to look for. Some may not even realize they are going through abuse, especially if it isn't physical. If you are a survivor of domestic violence, you are not alone; with the right help, you can overcome what feels out of your control.
Domestic violence is never an isolated issue that only affects individuals and their immediate family members. There are, in fact, effects that extend outward to the rest of society. Children who witness violence committed against one of their parents are at a higher risk of developing behavioral problems in the future. There are approximately 3.3 to 10 million children in the United States exposed to violence each year. These children are likely to have higher hostility, anger, anxiety, and mental health instability. Now, imagine this huge number of children growing up and starting their own families. Domestic abuse is a learned behavior. Male children who have witnessed their mothers being abused by their fathers are at much more risk to grow up and do the same thing to their partners. Domestic violence at home quickly spirals into a domino effect that travels far and wide without discrimination as to its next target.
Some may have recovered from witnessing the abuse, while others are bound to continue the cycle of abuse within their own families. Generation upon generation, domestic violence causes the family unit to crumble over time. But more than dismantling the basic family unit of society, domestic violence wreaks havoc on communities and entire societies. The cost of domestic violence to society is phenomenal. Below are the effects of such violence on society as a whole.
Government Subsidy On Healthcare Is Affected
The government's budget for medical treatment is strained because of high cases of domestic violence. Total medical costs for treating injuries associated with domestic violence have reached more than $5.8 billion. But more than injuries, survivors of domestic violence are also likely to suffer from chronic conditions in the future, such as heart disease, stress disorder, and many others, thus increasing the healthcare cost for everyone.
An important related concern is that 60% of domestic violence cases involve substance abuse. When both occur within the home, it becomes even more difficult to stop the cycle of abuse and addiction. Instead of working to tackle one problem, there are now two to go after. Thus, in addition to domestic violence, it is also important to address substance abuse and addiction issues.
Higher Prevalence Of Homelessness
Increasing cases of homelessness can be attributed to a few crucial factors, including domestic violence. In 2005, 50% of US cities reported that domestic violence was a major cause of homelessness in their area. After all, living on the street is better than being caged inside a house by an abusive partner, parent, or other family members. Homelessness is a serious problem in the United States, and it is taking a toll on the federal reserve.
The government gives a subsidy to survivors of domestic violence and homelessness. Lifetime costs paid by society through people's taxes are estimated to be about $96 billion. To deal with the effects of domestic violence, the government provides help by offering free counseling and shelter to the survivors and their children. Homelessness affects the entire society, not just those without a home. If the number of domestic violence cases was decreased, it makes sense that rates of homelessness would also follow the trend and go down—good news for everyone.
One of the economic effects of domestic violence is the loss of long-term productivity for many companies. Survivors of domestic violence fail to show up at work, thus also putting a toll on work productivity. It is estimated the net loss regarding work productivity amounts to $1.14 billion annually. Moreover, employers may also be liable for their workers' safety, especially if the abuser comes to the worksite to torment their employees, so safety and security become even more expensive.
The economic repercussions of domestic violence are why so many companies have addressed domestic violence by creating policies and seeking connections with agencies to protect their workers. While it is good to know that companies are doing their best to protect the welfare of their workers, they put in a lot of effort to provide a safe working environment, which equates to using up resources as well.
The threat of domestic violence spills into the community. In most cases, people who suffer from domestic abuse are encouraged to make others aware of their situation. Letting their parents, friends, neighbors, children's teachers, and even employers know helps provide a good support system. However, this puts the very people who provide the support system directly linked to the "private" issue, thus putting them at risk of being closely involved in a potentially harmful situation. Once properly informed and if the police are notified in the first place, they can prepare and be proactive in implementing safety parameters.
Readers of this information may be one of the lucky few who have never experienced domestic violence, but this does not mean that they should not care. It is important to realize that everyone is affected, albeit indirectly. As a taxpayer, readers are affected every time a police officer answers a call from a woman asking for help because her husband beats her every day. Readers are affected every time someone is ushered into the emergency room to treat assault and battery.
Now that it's clear domestic violence affects everyone, either directly or indirectly, you may be wondering what you can do to help. Believe it or not, it is common for people to turn a blind eye if they see domestic violence. Unfortunately, we still believe that domestic violence is a private affair that must be sorted out by the people involved. If readers know someone or see someone survivor of domestic violence, it is important not to ignore the situation. However, this does not always have to mean that one should get physically involved. Doing so could put more people at risk of being harmed, including yourself.
Domestic violence is a complicated matter, and many barriers stand in the way of someone leaving an abusive situation. Some people would tell their friends who are survivors of such abuse to leave their abusers, but most people cannot bring themselves to leave their attackers because they have developed an emotional attachment to them. Moreover, threats and assaults often escalate after the survivor of domestic violence leaves the abuser. There is often a huge rise in violence after someone leaves the abuser; many have been killed after working up the courage to do so. While someone may be suffering a lot, the thought of living in fear of their abuser coming after them and killing them maybe even be more compelling in convincing them to stay.
Many survivors also don't have much support from their friends and family because they've been so isolated (their abuser's doing, no doubt). They may have little access to resources like money, which are vital for their escape. Their dependency on their abuser often forces them to stay against their wishes. Survivors also worry about their children (if there are any) and sometimes stay because they feel like they're keeping their kids safer that way. Trauma is real, and many can't leave simply because they're so beaten down mentally.
This all being said, leaving may not even solve the problem, and in some situations, it can be the most dangerous thing that anyone can do. The survivor is not only dealing with physical abuse in domestic violence but also psychological conditioning. It is, therefore, important to seek the right help from the right people.
The best thing that readers can do to help is to be there for the abused person and let them know that help is waiting. Ideally, the person you know will let the authorities handle the situation safely as they are very adept at handling all sorts of domestic violence cases. Moreover, they also work with other agencies such as social workers and therapists to provide help for the survivor to slowly get back on their feet. However, the abused person knows their abuser the best, and there may be times when contacting authorities will pose an even greater danger to those involved. That's why it's so important to be educated about domestic violence. Every step taken and the decision made could be life-altering, for better or for worse. Making the right decisions is vital.
Aside from calling 911, there are other things that readers can do to help people who are survivors of domestic violence. Supporting shelters and facilities by making small donations or volunteering can make a lot of difference to the lives of the survivors and the volunteers and staff working in the facility. The shelter is the first and the most accessible place that survivors can go to seek help. They are equipped with rooms and facilities to provide a haven to survivors. Still, they also come with therapists that can help the survivors sort through the emotional turmoil they are experiencing.
On the whole, we cannot accept the effects of domestic violence, and we mustn't turn a blind eye to the survivors of family violence. It is in everyone's vested interest to work toward eliminating violence in all forms so that we can end the cycle of violence to live a brighter future with a more fulfilled society. Seeking help with domestic violence is the gateway to freedom. BetterHelp's network of licensed counselors has years of experience helping survivors of domestic violence learn coping tools and for members of the community to learn ways to offer support. In addition, licensed counselors can help abusers identify their triggers and work through them in healthy, non-destructive ways. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"Sharon Valentino has helped me through so much! Since we started working together just a few months ago, I already feel like I have more power and control over my life. I have let go of some very painful things; I have moved away from abusive relationships and gained the skills and tools I need to keep myself safe and happy. She has taught me that I have the power to control my thoughts, my anxiety, and most of all, my company. I like how direct she is; it helps me get grounded and connect to myself. I can't wait to see where I am after working with her for a year!!!"
"Jono was very helpful in so many ways. Our personalities were very different, and at the beginning, I thought about changing counselors because I didn't feel a connection with him. I am glad I didn't. It took months of hard work, but layer by layer, I was confronted with deeply held beliefs inside of me that were harmful. Jono was able to unpack those layers with grace and empathy. He was always available, and I knew that he cared about my overall health. The breakthroughs that have occurred have been monumental in my life, as he has walked me through some of the darkest days of my life thus far. Jono, thank you so much; I will never be the same!"
Domestic violence has a profound impact on society. If you are a survivor of this, reach out and get the right help. You deserve to lead a life free of abuse in any form. You can do it, so long as you set your mind to it and push forward!