Posted by: Amelia | July 2, 2007

The Cost of Violence

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) renewed funding to Violence Against Women Act programs that President Bush wanted to cut.

Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today announced the fiscal year 2008 spending bill includes $390 million for the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Violence Against Women Office. This funding restores a $20 million cut by President Bush, and funds programs authorized through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). […]

“I have absolutely no tolerance for domestic violence. That’s why I strongly support legislation and grant programs that help protect women and their families from continued violence and abuse,” said Senator Mikulski, an original champion of VAWA. “I will continue my fight to put funds in the federal checkbook to fund these important programs.” Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking are crimes of epidemic proportions, exacting terrible costs on individual lives and our communities. Nearly 25 percent of U.S. women report that they have been physically assaulted by an intimate partner during their lifetimes, 1 in 6 have been the victims of attempted or completed rape, and the cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year. [emphasis mine]

I don’t know where the $5.8 billion figure came from, but I can believe it (if anything, I would have guessed a higher toll).  Perhaps it came from this 2003 study from DHHS which estimated that the direct health care costs of intimate partner violence total $4.1 billion every year.  This includes medical and mental health services.  Intimate partner violence also causes 13.6 million days of lost productivity from paid work and household chores each year.  This cost totals $858.6 million.  Then there are the foregone lifetime earnings from the approximately 1,300 women killed each year by intimate partners.  The net present value of these earnings is another $892.7 million.  It’s not hard to see how these figures add up.  What’s more, they don’t include the myriad other costs associated with domestic violence: police visits, court fees, long-term psychological impact on victims, lifetime impact on children witnessing their father beat their mother, etc.

I’m sure that President Bush justified his $20 million proposed cut with a nod toward fiscal conservatism (wholly disingenuous at this point, given his record).  And while in many ways it is crass to think of the costs of violence against women solely in economic terms, it is unequivocal that our economy is worse off for its prevalence.  In every sense of the word, it is worth our time, energy, and money to combat this heinous problem.  Bravo, Mikulski.



  1. Brava!

  2. I’ve always loved Babs. being a Baltimore Native who will be sending her daughter to Babs and Nancy’s Alma mater, I am SO proud that she thinks this is very important. and of course, I wouldn’t be here today without the help and support of the Howard County Domestic Violence center who undoubtedly benefits from this money.

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