The cost of domestic violence on children

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By Ashley Wilson 

Rise Above Violence

One in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year and 90 percent of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). 

The national Institute of Justice reports that domestic violence and child abuse co-occur in up to 60 percent of cases. Witnessing violence and potentially also being abused themselves, children face an array of effects; children are at greater risk for internalized behaviors, anxiety, depression, behavior problems at school and long-lasting negative health and emotional outcomes. Children exposed to this type of violence and abuse are also more likely to become violent as they grow because violence is seen as an acceptable means to resolve conflict. There is a high cost for children exposed.

The federal government spends an estimated $55 billion annually on dealing with the effects of childhood exposure to domestic violence, according to new research by social scientists at Case Western Reserve University. 

“By the time a child exposed to domestic violence reaches age 64, the average cost to the national economy over their lifetime will reach nearly $50,000 across the following main categories; health care, crime, and productivity.” — ScienceDaily, 25 April 2018. (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180425093846.htm).

This cost weighs heavy on a community and, for a place like Pagosa, you likely know a victim or their child. Of the 280 adult victims Rise Above Violence served in 2020, over half have at least one child in the home. Violence is not a private problem; the cycle affects children, their friends and classmates, and eventually their workplace, which affects the entire community. This is a cost we cannot choose to ignore.

There are ways to help. Children are resilient when they have other supportive adults in their lives. Some ways to help include:

• Partner with Rise to volunteer either as a crisis advocate or through our youth program. 

• Volunteer for other youth-oriented programs that promote healing and support such as the Arts Initiative’s after-school art program, Expressions School of the Arts or one of the many others. 

• Be there for children in your social circle — at church, in your neighborhood or out in the community. Your demonstration of healthy relationships and support matter.

No parent should have to choose between safety and feeding their children, yet many victims wait up to two years to leave because of the cost of leaving — housing, deposits and often not being able to take anything with them when they leave. When victims are in the process of leaving, there are many things that can help both the adults and children, but they all come with a cost. A cute backpack instead of a trash bag for a child’s items can make a difference; counseling services or high-quality child care make a difference. 

These things are not often covered by grant funds Rise receives, which is why we are asking for you to partner with us for the WeRISE for 25 campaign. We need to raise $25,000 by the end of the year to provide flexible assistance for the things victims and their children need most. You can contribute at: https://secure.frontstream.com/werise-for-25. More information is available on the Rise website: www.riseaboveviolene.org.

Children are the life of our community, and together we can make a difference for some of the most vulnerable children. Take a stand and end the silence around domestic violence in order to support both the victim and their children. 

Rise Above Violence is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving around 400 victims each year. Rise also works to eliminate violence through education for youth and our community. All programs and services are free and confidential, including emergency prevention education and empowerment programs. Visit www.riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call (970) 264-9075 to talk to an advocate today.