Costs & Consequences of Domestic Violence

Adapted from the Center for Disease Control at:

 Costs to Society

  • Costs of DV against women in 1995 alone exceeded an estimated $5.8 billion. These costs included nearly $4.1 billion in the direct costs of medical and mental health care and nearly $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity (CDC 2003). This is generally considered an underestimate because the costs associated with the criminal justice system were not included.
  • When updated to 2003 dollars, DV costs exceeded $8.3 billion, which included $460 million for rape, $6.2 billion for physical assault, $461 million for stalking, and $1.2 billion in the value of lost lives (Max et al. 2004).
  • The increased annual health care costs for victims of DV can persist as much as 15 years after the cessation of abuse (Rivara et al., 2007).
  • Victims of severe DV lose nearly 8 million days of paid work-the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs-and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity each year (CDC 2003).
  • Women who experience severe aggression by men (e.g., not being allowed to go to work or school, or having their lives or their children's lives threatened) are more likely to have been unemployed in the past, have health problems, and be receiving public assistance (Lloyd and Taluc 1999).


Approximately 29% of women and 10% of men in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported at least one measured impact related to these or other forms of violence in that relationship (Black et al., 2011). In general, victims of repeated violence over time experience more serious consequences than victims of one-time incidents (Johnson and Leone, 2005). The following lists describes some, but not all, of the consequences of DV.


  • 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Black et al., 2011). Nearly, 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of IPV that included rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Black et al., 2011). In 2010, 241 males and 1095 females were murdered by an intimate partner (U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, 2011).
  • Children may become injured during DV incidents between their parents. A large overlap exists between DV and child maltreatment (Appel and Holden 1998).
  • Apart from deaths and injuries, physical violence by an intimate partner is associated with a number of adverse health outcomes (Black, 2011; Breiding, Black, and Ryan, 2008). Several health conditions associated with intimate partner violence may be a direct result of the physical violence (for example, bruises, knife wounds, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, back or pelvic pain, headaches). Other conditions are the result of the impact of intimate partner violence on the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine and immune systems through chronic stress or other mechanisms (Black, 2011; Crofford, 2007; Leserman and Drossman, 2007).

Examples of physical and reproductive health conditions associated with DV include:

  • Migraines/headaches
  • Gynecological disorders
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS
  • Delayed prenatal care
  • Preterm delivery
  • Pregnancy difficulties like low birth weight babies and perinatal deaths
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Asthma
  • Bladder/kidney infections
  • Circulatory conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic pain syndromes
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Joint disease


Physical violence is typically accompanied by emotional or psychological abuse (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000). IPV–whether sexual, physical, or psychological–can lead to various psychological consequences for victims (Black, 2011; Coker et al. 2002; Heise and Garcia-Moreno 2002; Roberts, Klein, and Fisher 2003; Warshaw et al., 2009):

  • Fear of intimacy
  • Emotional detachment
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Flashbacks
  • Replaying assault in the mind
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Suicidal behavior 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Inability to trust others, especially in intimate relationships


Victims of DV sometimes face the following social consequences (Heise and Garcia-Moreno 2002; Plichta 2004; Warshaw et al., 2009):

  • Restricted access to services
  • Strained relationships with health providers and employers
  • Isolation from social networks
  • Homelessness

Unhealthy Behavior Patterns

Women with a history of DV are more likely to display behaviors that present further health risks (e.g., substance abuse, alcoholism, suicide attempts) than women without a history of DV.

DV is associated with a variety of negative health behaviors (Heise and Garcia-Moreno 2002; Plichta 2004; Roberts, Auinger, and Klein 2005; Silverman et al. 2001). Studies show that the more severe the violence, the stronger its relationship to negative health behaviors by victims. Below are some of these behaviors:

  • Substance over-use and abuse
  • Drinking alcohol and driving
  • Illicit drug use
  • Fasting and Vomiting
  • Abusing diet pills
  • Under- and Overeating
  • Unprotected and high-risk sex
  • Decreased condom use
  • Early sexual initiation
  • Choosing unhealthy sexual partners
  • Trading sex for food, money, or other items
  • Overuse of health services

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