Domestic Violence a Public Health Issue

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, every 9 seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten. The data suggests that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner that equates to 10 million people a year (n.d.). Domestic violence also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim or perpetrator. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels (Domestic Violence Hotline).

Domestic abuse is any behavior that obstructs the rights, freedoms and privileges of another person. There are levels of abuse, with homicide being the most severe and cyber stalking being the least threatening, but it leads to the same outcome which is power and control of another person. However, is not limited to behaviors that are just physical. It includes behaviors that evoke harm, arouse fear, preventing a partner from doing what they wish or forcing them to behave in ways they don’t want. It also includes but, not limited to sexual violence, stalking, threats, intimidation, verbal, emotional and financial, abuse. Many of these different forms of abuse can be happening at the same time.

Domestic violence is public health issue because it has an impact on more than its intended victim. It also disproportionately affects communities that are impoverished, high unemployment and illiteracy rates. It puts people who are connected to or encounter victims in harm’s way, like their children, family members, coworkers, first responders, law enforcement and the community as a whole. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 20% of domestic violence related homicides were not the intimate partners themselves (n.d). It affects the economy exceeding $8.3 billion per year (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, n.d). The workforce affected because women are stalked, harassed or murdered in the workplace. They miss work or even terminated. It has been reported that victims lose roughly 8 million days of paid work each year due to domestic violence (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, n.d.).

Prevention programs are key in addressing intimate partner violence. It starts with targeting the individuals who are at risk, like women who are between the age of 16-24 lower socio-economic status, uneducated, exposed to maltreatment during childhood or experienced physical & sexual abuse (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, n.d). Women who are marginalized are extremely vulnerable to domestic abuse. African American women, women with physical or intellectual disabilities and women living with a mental health or substance abuse issue are abused more than any other group. African American women are abused at a rate of 35% higher and are 2.5 times more likely to be murdered compared to their white counterparts (Women of Color Network Facts & Stats: Domestic Violence in Communities of Color, 2006 p. 2). Over half of women with a physical or intellectual disability are victims of domestic violence (Violence against women with disabilities, 2018). Women with a severe mental illness are 2 to 3 times likely to suffer domestic violence. Research shows that about 90% of women with a substance issue reported having experienced physical or sexual violence (Effects of violence against women, 2019).

Not only is domestic violence a public health issue it is a social injustice issue. It is harmful, deadly and at times criminal. The insurmountable damage caused by abuse cannot be measured. It would be unethical for officials to not support programming that addressees the seriousness of this issue. Because IPV is restrictive, and it impedes on the rights and freedom human beings.

I encourage officials to get publicly involved in local high-profile cases or legislation that has policies or funding for domestic violence. I would suggest they meet with survivors and visit existing domestic violence programs and shelters. I would also have them participate in town forums and events to show their support publicly. I would encourage include the work they are doing on their websites and social media pages. I would also urge them to appear in commercials, public service announcements and domestic violence campaigns.

I encourage them to be fair and ensure there is an equitable number of resources distributed to address this issue. They must understand how their inaction will result in harm to the entire neighborhood. Showing them how the supporting domestic violence programs protects the quality of life for some and improves the quality of life for others. I would like to express how their lack of support for such programming can be viewed as an unwillingness to prevent harm. I also want to inform the leaders that they have a duty to help and ensure people are safe. There is massive amounts of research and data that proves that similar programs have been successful in cities all over the country. Intervention programs have had favorable outcomes for decades. It should be noted that prevention programs are for not just beneficial for victims, but their children and all parties associated.


Domestic Violence Hotline. (n.d.). What is Domestic Violence. Retrieved from:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d). Domestic Violence Facts and Statistics.
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Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Violence against women with disabilities. September 13, 2018.
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Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Effects of violence against women. January 30, 2019.
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