One of the bills stalled in the Do Absolutely Nothing 112th Congress of the United States of America is the Violence Against Women Act. The Senate version extends the protections of the Act to LGBT citizens, Native Americans, and immigrants. The GOP leadership of the House of Representatives objects to the extensions. [CD] The objections are spurious. However, that doesn’t prevent the bill from being stalled, and the Next Great Big Debt Crisis — which evidently wasn’t a problem for the Bush Administration “Deficits Don’t Matter” crowd — is chewing up the air time on the cable news networks. Meanwhile, we have a real economic problem on our hands — domestic violence.
Intimate partner violence is expensive. We’ve known this since the 2003 Center for Disease Control report. (pdf)
“The costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services. The total costs of IPV also include nearly $0.9 billion in lost productivity from paid work and household chores for victims of nonfatal IPV and $0.9 billion in lifetime earnings lost by victims of IPV homicide. The largest proportion of the costs is derived from physical assault victimization because that type of IPV is the most prevalent. The largest component of IPV-related costs is health care, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the total costs.”
So, as of 2003 the price tag for domestic violence was $5.8 billion annually, and the price tag for the health care component was $4.1 billion. Want to help bring down health care costs in this country, then reduce the instances of domestic violence!
For those who persist in speaking of the issue as a police matter, or a “woman’s issue,” consider the following information from that 2003 CDC study:
As of nine years ago we were pitching the equivalent of 32,114 full time jobs in the dust bin because women lost valuable work days due to incidents of domestic violence.
The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence updated the numbers and reported that as of 2005, “The annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is estimated as $727.8 million with over 7.9 million paid workdays lost per year.” That, of course, is $727.8 million that doesn’t add anything to the national economy every year.
If we could delve only in the realm of national, and therefore generalized, statistics Nevadans might be more comfortable. However, the Silver State has a problem according to Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto:
“Victims of domestic violence comprise the largest crime victim category in Nevada. Although domestic violence is significantly underreported and statistics are incomplete, the Nevada Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report for 2009 reported 29,091 female victims and 12,060 children present at incidents of domestic violence. The Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reports that 42,877 first-time victims received services from domestic violence programs in fiscal year 2010-11.” [LVSun]
The numbers sting more when they’re describing what is going on in this state alone. The sting is even greater when reading headlines like this one: “Nevada Ranks #1 in Rate of Women Murdered by Men for Third Year in a Row According to VPC Study Released Annually for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.” That’s right… We’re Number One… in the rate of women murdered by men for the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW. But wait, the news actually gets worse.
“The state has held the top position for five of the last six years. The annual VPC report details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender. The study uses the most recent data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report and is released each year to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.
Ranked behind Nevada (2.62) were: South Carolina at 2 with a rate of 1.94 per 100,000; Tennessee at 3 with a rate of 1.91 per 100,000; Louisiana at 4 with a rate of 1.86 per 100,000; Virginia at 5 with a rate of 1.77 per 100,000; Texas at 6 with a rate of 1.75 per 100,000; New Mexico at 7 with a rate of 1.63 per 100,000; Hawaii at 8 (tie) with a rate of 1.62 per 100,000; Arizona at 8 (tie) with a rate of 1.62 per 100,000; and, Georgia at 10 with a rate of 1.61 per 100,000. Nationally, the rate of women killed by men in single victim/single offender instances was 1.22 per 100,000.” [VPC] (emphasis added)
We can extrapolate that the national trends might apply to the Nevada cases. For example, 94% of the victims knew their attackers. Of the victims who knew their attackers, 65% were murdered by husbands or intimate partners. 70% of the murders were accomplished with a firearm, followed by the use of knives or cutting instruments (20%), bodily force (12%), and the ubiquitous “blunt object” was the implement of choice in about 7% of the homicides. (full study, pdf link)
For once, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) didn’t sign on to the misogynistic agenda of some of his GOP colleagues, and he joined the Democratic majority in the Senate voting in favor of the renewed VAWA. [LVSun] Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) voted with the 67 other Senators who favored the renewal of the act. Sometimes being Number One isn’t the place to be.
Congressman Joe Heck was eager to trumpet his vote for the VAWA, however it was the watered down House version (H.R. 4970), with no protection for immigrant women, LGBT citizens, and Native American women. [NVProg] Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV2) tapped danced around the issue of tribal jurisdiction over rapes and assaults perpetrated on tribal lands, and supported the House version of the bill. What might their positions be on the ‘real’ VAWA bill, S. 1925?
They, and their cohorts in the U.S. House of Representatives will have to work quickly to deal with the back-load of bills piling up, especially given that they are only scheduled to be in session for 126 days next year.
One of those precious days should really be devoted to the loss of the equivalent of 32,000 full time jobs, the loss of at least $727.8 million to the economy every year, and to the $5.8 billion in health care costs attributable to domestic violence. Perhaps then Nevada could lose the dubious honor of being “Number One?”