Paying billions to be abused
The Quincy Solution: How do We Know it Saves $500 Billion?
Every day, I hear horrifying stories about women murdered by their abusers after they try to leave and children murdered by fathers who used the broken custody court system to gain access. Even more common are cases in which courts disbelieve true allegations of child sexual abuse and force children to live with the rapists. The failure to protect precious children from further exposure to domestic violence and direct physical abuse is still more common. I seek to honor the survivors when they tell their stories, but I hate our failure to implement the proven practices that could save battered mothers and their children from these horrors. In many cases courts punish mothers for trying to protect their children by denying the children a normal relationship with mothers who are their primary attachment figures. The court professionals seem unaware that they are really punishing the children. I would gladly pay a lot of money not to avoid hearing the stories but to prevent these tragedies from occurring. We know that this suffering is preventable because communities that have used the best practices in the Quincy Solution have enjoyed a dramatic reduction in domestic violence crimes. New research, based on the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) studies demonstrates that instead of spending money to improve the lives of children, these good practices would actually save $500 billion a year. Improving the quality of children’s lives and creating a far wealthier society by doing so is the best deal we will ever make.
Where do the savings come from?
The ACE research provides an enormous opportunity to use prevention to improve the health of battered women and their children, improve our quality of life and save substantial sums of money. This medical research establishes that the fear and stress created from living with abusers results in short and long-term health problems. Previous attempts to measure the health costs from tolerating domestic violence were limited to treating the immediate wounds. The constant stress and other negative effects can cause or exacerbate heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, auto-immune diseases, Aids, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, suicide, automobile accidents and many crimes. The traumas considered in the ACE study involve the ten leading causes of death in the United States. In other words responses that minimize the significance of domestic violence or suggest victims “get over it” provide incredibly foolish advice.
The Academy on Violence and Abuse estimates that we spend between $333- 750 billion per year on health costs made necessary by domestic violence. In every other calculation I used the most conservative figure, but I believe the $750 billion is most accurate because even in a healthcare setting domestic violence continues to be substantially underreported. Dr. David Corwin told me this was a reasonable estimate and Dr. Linda Degutis of the Centers for Disease Control said if anything my estimate is understated.
The United States spends over one trillion dollars on crime. One quarter of police calls are for domestic violence cases and a single murder costs an average of $2.5 million. Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to commit other crimes when they get older. Obviously, most crime would continue to exist if domestic violence was drastically reduced but I believe we would save at least $200 billion annually in crime costs through implementation of the Quincy Solution.
Abusers often prevent their partners from pursuing their education or careers. His abuse undermines their ability to do a good job for their employers. Children who witness domestic violence have problems in school and are more likely to make poor choices that undermine their careers. Health problems can also reduce their economic contributions. Abusers undermine their productivity if they are jailed or have a criminal record as a result of their crimes. Accordingly, a significant portion of the population does not reach their economic potential because of our continued tolerance for domestic violence.
Most victims would have gone to work, paid taxes and contributed to the economy. Some would have created businesses that employed others. A few could have created whole new industries. In some cases we may have lost the contributions of someone who would have made an important invention, provided a scientific breakthrough or like teachers, inspired someone else to make these important contributions. We will never know all that we lost by tolerating men’s abuse of women, but certainly the Quincy Solution will lead to a stronger economy that benefits everyone.
People’s ability to reach their economic potential will no longer be cut short by domestic violence. Accordingly, our annual financial losses from domestic violence are at least one trillion dollars. The Quincy Solution won’t end all domestic violence crimes, but we can quickly save $500 billion per year and this will increase as more children live their lives without witnessing domestic violence.
And the Benefits Keep Coming
The federal government spends $196 billion every year on domestic violence related health costs for Medicare, Medicaid and employees every year. Half of that would go a long way to reducing taxes, providing needed services and cutting the deficit. The savings from the reduction in crime and an improved economy will add to the benefits. Perhaps it will make it easier for Democrats and Republicans to reach some agreements.
Businesses spend $158 billion a year on health costs created by domestic violence. The potential savings could be used for investments, profits, and increased salaries. This in turn will further improve the economy. Union and other workers will save money on health costs while receiving more income because their employers will be saving on health costs. Teachers will be more effective because they won’t have to spend time responding to children traumatized by abuse at home. Police officers will be safer on their jobs because domestic violence calls are the most dangerous. Workers will be more productive.
For the first time in recorded history women can be safe in their homes and our children can grow up without the trauma caused by abuse. This is not some utopia, but rather based on proven practices that dramatically reduced domestic violence crime in communities like Quincy, Nashville and San Diego. Now that we know what we can accomplish by adopting best practices to prevent domestic violence, we can implement the Quincy Solution and stop contemplating the saddest question, “What might have been?”