With more than six out of 10 Canadians saying they personally know at least one woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse, it is clear that violence is huge problem in the country.
Now, a Canadian Public Policy study reveals that there are large financial costs that can be attributed to violence against women.
The study might have a wordy title — Attributing Selected Costs to Intimate Partner Violence in a Sample of Women Who Have Left Abusive Partners: A Social Determinants of Health Approach — but the message is succinct: “The overall annual per woman cost attributable to violence of $13,162.39 represents a conservative estimate of the partial costs of intimate partner violence for women who have left abusive partners.”
On the heels of Prevention of Violence Against Women Week (April 15-21), Kootenai Community Centre Society executive director Dina Bambrick said there is local help available for women and children who are in, or who leave, abusive or violent relationships.
“We offer counselling and support services, in addition to a safe house and transitional accommodation for women and their children,” she said. “No one should feel that they have no options but to stay in a bad situation.”
Statistics for Canada provide ample evidence that the problem is enormous. More than half of women in Canada will experience some form of abuse from a partner after the age of 16 years. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that one in five women was pregnant when the violence occurred. Every year, up to 360,000 children are exposed to domestic violence. Half of the women murdered in Canada are killed by a current or former partner.
While education and public awareness efforts are key to reducing violence in relationships, so is the revelation that real costs can be attributed to the issue.
“We calculated public sector health costs for which we could identify appropriate comparisons at an annual per woman cost of $4,969.79 in excess of what would be expected in the general population,” said the study. “Measuring costs demonstrates the extensive use of resources resulting from violence against women, reduces its social acceptability, and promotes social policy designed to decrease its prevalence.”
Intimate partner violence is a complicated issue, but the CPC study makes it clear it results in costs that are borne by Canadian taxpayers. It is in everyone’s best interest to work toward prevention of violence.
For more information about Kootenai Community Centre Society services, call 250-402-0068.