Is Domestic Violence a Public Health Issue?
Written by Moses & Rooth on March 14, 2018
We all understand that domestic violence is a serious problem in Florida. Indeed, many of us personally know someone who has been affected by acts of domestic abuse or violence. But beyond the individual victims, what does domestic abuse look like in the aggregate?
The Global Problem of Intimate Partner Violence
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both long treated domestic violence as a public health issue and not simply a matter of law enforcement. These agencies study the impact of “intimate partner violence” (IPV) on both women and men from a scientific perspective. Unlike the legal system, which primarily focuses on identifying and punishing known abusers, the public health agencies are more concerned with identifying the root causes of IPV and implementing strategies to prevent it from happening in the first place.
According to the CDC, about 25 percent of women and 11 percent of men in the United States have experienced some form of IPV. The CDC defines domestic violence as taking place on a “spectrum.” So while some IPV situations were limited to a single incident, other cases involve a series of “severe episodes” over a period of weeks, months, or years. In this context, IPV incorporates physical abuse and sexual assault, as well as stalking and other intentional behaviors designed to make the victim afraid for their life or safety.
So how do these figures add up to a public health crisis? Based on research compiled by WHO, there are substantial “negative health and development consequences” to IPV victims, especially women. In addition to the immediate consequences of the violent acts–which is often death–WHO said IPV “is also an important cause of morbidity from multiple mental, physical, sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and it is also linked with known risk factors for poor health, such as alcohol and drug use, smoking and unsafe sex.”
Ultimately, domestic violence puts a strain on the entire health care and social services system. WHO noted that violence against women cost Canada’s national healthcare system almost CAN$1.1 billion. In addition to these direct costs, IPV also frequently “undermines efforts to improve women’s access to education,” limiting their ability to secure better-paying jobs that enable them to escape abusive relationships.
Preventing Violence Before the Courts Get Involved
IPV generally begins in adolescence or young adulthood. Based on the CDC’s figures, 71 percent of women experience an IPV incident before the age of 25. That is why the CDC and WHO say it is critical for parents and the community at-large to “teach safe and healthy relationship skills” to adolescents. It is also important to identify individuals who are at greater risk of IPV and intervene before legal action becomes necessary.
And if the law does have to get involved, remember the accused still has constitutional rights that must be respected. If you are charged with any kind of domestic abuse or violence, you have the right to speak to a qualified Orlando criminal defense lawyer. Call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150 or contact us online today if you need immediate assistance.