Researchers from the Kate Tiedemann College of Business at USFSP partnered with Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) to quantify the impact of domestic violence on our community. They spent a year analyzing the local and national costs of medical care, emergency housing and lost wages as a result of domestic violence. These figures were combined with the 6,228 reported domestic violence incidents in Pinellas County, and they found that domestic violence costs at least $132 million a year.
“My frustration comes from how underreported the number really is,” says CASA CEO Lariana Forsythe. “The real impact is more enormous than the number presented. We tried to come up with an exhaustive list of all the costs of domestic violence, but we realized that we need to look at even more avenues after presenting the findings.”
The present study lumps costs into the following categories:
Cost of community at $81 million: Looks at absence from work, children in foster care, use of court resources and lost wages of abusers who are in jail.
Cost of long-term impact at $37 million: Looks at loss of lifetime earnings due to premature death and the value of lifetime suffering from abuse.
Cost of healthcare at $5.5 million: Accounts for emergency room visits, ambulance, physical therapy and mental healthcare.
Cost of support services at $3.5 million: Includes programs and interventions that help victims and their children.
Forsythe says that the study does not take into account any administrative or operational costs, such as vehicle and gas usage. The study also does not account for the time of fire department and ambulance standby during especially dangerous domestic violence cases. Without the data from unreported incidents and without the costs of these other avenues, domestic violence costs the community more than what the study suggests.
Still, $132 million seems to be grabbing the community’s attention. “We’re already getting a positive response from the public who want to learn more about the details. People typically think that (domestic violence) is very private, so the numbers are shocking and they show that we are all involved in this problem.” Forsythe suggests that we invest in the problem in order to prevent these huge economic losses.
CASA plans to incorporate the findings into its Domestic Violence Awareness Training for the Workplace program, which trains management and employees how to appropriately approach potential victims, look at the quantifiable loss in productivity and understand domestic violence as a safety concern for the whole workplace.
“It’s not really acknowledged, but most mass murder situations occur because of domestic violence,” Forsythe explains. “From 2009 to 2016, 54 percent of mass shootings were domestic-violence related, and most mass shooting training focuses on domestic violence. Even though domestic violence does happen in the privacy of homes, it still reaches the community.”