iriemade Skip to Content

Who pays the cost for domestic violence?

Victims largely bear the direct costs of domestic violence. Domestic violence imposes a significant financial burden on the victims and their families, as well as private businesses, the public sector, and society at large. Physical care, psychological care, loss of income, and lost household and work productivity are some of the costs that come with domestic violence. The nearly 5 million domestic violence cases that occur in the year cost the United States approximately $460 billion.

Counting the Cost of Domestic Violence on Victims

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the cost of domestic violence to be $103,767 over a female victim’s lifetime and $23,414 over a male victim’s lifetime.

Health Care

One in every four women and one in every seven men have been victims of severe physical violence. The resulting injuries may send victims to the hospital for treatment. Physical violence is one of the reasons that a victim can use to seek an order of protection.

Health care services are a significant cost component when calculating the impact of domestic violence. The annual cost of health care for female victims is at least $4.1 billion. Victims usually continue requiring treatment and counseling many years after the abuse ends. About 18.5 mental health care visits annually are caused by domestic violence.

Disrupted Ability to Work

Domestic violence victims lose 8 million paid workdays cumulatively. A victim loses 5 to 9 days annually in productivity on average because of:

  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Working slowly, whether from injuries for fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • The need to do tasks over due to lack of concentration

The loss in productivity adds up to a total of $8.3 billion each year. Decreased productivity and absenteeism can result in disruptions to a victim’s career trajectory and job loss. Domestic violence also affects household work, leading to a loss of approximately 5.6 million days annually.

The Costs of Domestic Violence to Society

Domestic violence has considerable costs to society. The time lost at work because of violence may make businesses experience decreased output and reduced earnings. Because of the interconnected nature of economic activities, the costs spread throughout the national economy. A victim’s family members and friends may also miss work to offer assistance, multiplying the lost productivity costs to other households and the broader economy.

A 2010 study found one rape or sexual assault to have a total intangible cost of $199,642 to society and an aggravated assault to cost society $95,023 in intangible costs per offense.


The close to 8 million paid workdays that the victims lose per year cost employers $1.8 billion in productivity losses. Domestic violence tends to increase the healthcare costs of employers. They can also lose money in lawsuits involving employment discrimination or negligence related to domestic violence. In one case, failure to respond to a worker’s risk of domestic violence while on the job cost an employer $850,000 in a wrongful death action.

In total, the cost of domestic violence to U.S. businesses is $3 billion to $5 billion annually.


The government bears costs associated with loss of tax revenues and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid arising from domestic violence. According to research by scientists from Case Western Reserve University, the federal government spends about $55 billion each year dealing with issues related to children who have been exposed to domestic violence. This high cost can be attributed to the yearly exposure of at least 15.5 million children to one or more episodes of domestic violence in the US.

Although domestic violence costs are considerable, they are underestimated because they are based only on the reported cases. Domestic violence is underreported because of reasons like humiliation, emotional attachment, and fear of retribution.

Pin It on Pinterest