What does $9.3 Billion Dollars have to Do with Me?

6 Part series Why is Domestic Violence My problem?

Part 4. What does 9.3 Billion Dollars have to do with me?

9.3 billion dollars is a lot of money. That is 12 zeros! That is the cost of Domestic Violence in annually in America. How on earth is it that much? I didn’t realize that DV impacted me like that. I didn’t realize that DV has that cost as well.

Where do the costs come from? Overall it is from lost wages, medical costs, and mental health costs. But there is a break down to that that is heartbreaking when it is dissected out. Lost wages looks like this:

79% miss work

87% deal with harassing phone calls while working.

78% late for work.

77% kept up through the night because of abuse

39% not able to find childcare

34% car keys hidden by abusers causing tardiness

Think about your place of work. Maybe it is labor-intensive, maybe it is filled with customer service as being the goal and the number one tool, or maybe it is a medical job where distractions can cost lives. Now think about your employees coming into work being harassed, being up late, scrambling to find childcare at the last minute, and frustrated because they spent time looking for their keys. How ready are they to take on the day that is before them? They have to switch gears and but on their work face in spite of the exhaustion and frustration that they are feeling.

If you are familiar with Abraham Maslow’s work. He described a hierarchy of needs of humanity: 1) physiological needs (food, shelter, clothing, water, and rest), 2) Safety needs (safety and security), 3) Belongingness and love needs, 4) Self-worth needs (feeling of accomplishment), and finally 5) self-actualization (achieving one’s full potential and being creative). Thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy and domestic violence/abuse, one can see the conflict with trying to perform and do great work when the foundational levels are being interrupted and fractured. When our needs are not being met it is terribly challenging to really achieve in the other areas.

Looking at the very first level in the hierarchy, of not getting your basic needs met because someone is withholding food from you or you are kicked out of your shelter will limit your ability to focus on work. Looking at the third level of the hierarchy of knowing that you are teased with love, lied too, used, and threatened and physically being attacked and yet don’t dare miss work so you throw on long sleeves, sunglasses, and scarves to cover strangulations. For myself, I hoped that I could endure the pain and go to after-hour clinics to get the injuries checked out. All of these things were also huge stressors to deal with while I was trying to perform at work.

Looking at the second level of the hierarchy, you can see the need for safety is very foundational. If we are feeling frustrated and threatened in safety it can cost us our mental energy and abilities to “hold it together” and we can crack. The need for mental health support (Counselors, Clinicians, Therapists, psychologists, etc) is needed in order to keep the workforce who are suffering from Domestic Violence healthy enough to keep working and keep their family together. The cost of those services can be high on a company depending on the need.

Thinking about the stress that employees are under if they are in domestic violence, you can see that they will need to use medical care and mental health care and that is an additional cost on the employer. Many times victims of the abuse will do all that they can to fix the situation at home before they have to show up for work.

Back to the numbers, $9.3 billion dollars is a huge number. If you want to break that down into a scenario for an individual company the numbers would like like this. Remember that we are working with the 1 in 4 women are in abuse statistic. Based on that if you had a company of 100 workers, 75 % were female, and the average wage earner was $15 an hour your annual cost would be the cost on your company is $33,513: $19,386 for Medical, $8,247 for Mental Health costs, and $5,880 for Lost Wages.

Why is Domestic Violence your problem? It is a cost that impacts all of us.

In part 5 of the series, we will discuss “The Supporter’s Gap.” Tune in next week.

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