You may be knowledgeable about the primitive adage that”a man’s home is his castle.” It’s frequently invoked against invasions of privacy or as justification for protection of land. While a person’s autonomy and right to peaceful possession of land aren’t inherently bad things, this idea of inviolability (especially couched in these overtly patriarchal terms) has been invoked to insidious ends.
To this day, many societies allow the cloak of refuge to cover domestic violence, refusing to intercede on “private” affairs. Increasingly, however, there’s an understanding that what goes on behind closed doors can and must be the topic of social regulation. The moral ills of domestic violence are self explanatory; it is wrong to harm a partner or child. Fewer people understand the wider social costs that stem from misuse.
In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a detailed study to ascertain the expense of intimate partner violence (IPV) against girls. The research concluded that the yearly costs were $8.3 billion dollars in health care alone. The majority of this number comes from $6.2 billion in therapy for victims of violence and an additional $1.3 billion to the value of lost lives. And the CDC worries that this study almost certainly represents a gross underestimation of the true prices.
The analysis only accounts for the costs to women. Women are undoubtedly the most affected group, with almost one in three having experienced physical or sexual abuse or stalking. Men aren’t immune, but with 14% reporting being physically abused by a spouse. Further, chronic under-reporting depresses the amounts. It’s so common for victims to think of an excuse for their harms to secure their partner.
The CDC study can be temporally constrained because it only considers the prices in a particular year. Even if the violence stops, the long-term effects may still be a burden on the medical system. Increased annual healthcare costs persist for as long as 15 years after the abuse stops. Further, the long-term health costs extend beyond the immediate harms. The risk of heart disease increases 70 percent; asthma raises 60%, and episodes of stroke are 80 percent more likely for people who experience domestic violence.
As though that weren’t enough, there are costs related to domestic violence which extend beyond medical expenses. Victims of abuse lose an estimated 8 million days of employment, that’s the equivalent of 32,000 fulltime jobs. In addition to that, the emotional effects are almost impossible to measure but are very real. There’s also significant data to suggest that victims are more likely to become perpetrators themselves, creating a vicious cycle of abuse which affects everyone. The privacy of the house should be respected but not at the cost of all of society, and certainly not at the expense of somebody’s suffering. We’re responsible for putting a stop to abuse.