Around the world, violence against women increased to record levels following lockdowns to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The United Nations called the situation a “shadow pandemic” in a 2021 report about domestic violence. In the United States, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported alarming trends in U.S. domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) received more than 74,000 calls, chats, and texts in February 2021, the highest monthly contact volume of its 25-year history.1 Socio-economic stressors such as employment and external stressors such as food insecurity and family relations have a significant impact, not only on experiences of violence or feelings of safety but also on women’s well-being overall.
Domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence (IPV), is abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship. “Intimate partner” refers to both current and former spouses and dating partners. IPV can vary in how often it happens and how severe it is. It can range from one episode of violence that could have a lasting impact to chronic and severe episodes over multiple years. IPV can include any of the following types of behavior:
Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.
Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.
Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally or exert control over a partner.
IPV is connected to other forms of violence and is related to serious health issues and economic consequences.
For February 2023, CharityRx has committed all donations from the use of their prescription discount card to helping homeless women and children fleeing domestic violence or abuse. Sheltering 1,550+ women, youth, and children annually, Lotus House is the country’s largest shelter for women and children. They provide shelter, resources, and multi-faceted, comprehensive supportive services to help their guests successfully exit the shelter system and lead lives of greater opportunity.
IPV affects millions of people in the United States each year. IPV is a significant public health issue with many individual and societal costs. Data from CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) indicate:
Eighty-five percent of IPV victims are women, and every 9 seconds, a woman is beaten. About 41% of women and 26% of men experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, stalking by an intimate partner, or a combination of abuses and reported an intimate partner violence-related impact during their lifetime. For 30% of women who are abused, the first incident occurs during pregnancy.
Injury, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, concern for safety, fear, needing help from law enforcement, and missing at least one day of work are common impacts reported. Survivors can experience mental health problems such as depression and PTSD symptoms. They are at higher risk for engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, and sexual risk activity.
Over 61 million women and 53 million men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
About 75% of female IPV survivors and 48% of male IPV survivors experience some form of injury related to IPV. These include a range of conditions affecting the heart, muscles, bones, and digestive, reproductive, and nervous systems, many of which are chronic.
More than three women are killed by husbands or boyfriends every day. Data from U.S. crime reports suggest that an intimate male partner kills over half of female homicide victims and about 1 in 5 homicide victims overall. IPV results in nearly 1,300 deaths and 2 million injuries annually in the United States.
Despite severe under-reporting, about half of all violent crime calls to police departments are IPV-related. Only 20% of rapes and sexual assaults, 25% of physical assaults, and 50% of stalking towards women are reported to the police.
The lifetime economic cost associated with medical services for IPV-related injuries, lost productivity from paid work, criminal justice, and other costs is $3.6 trillion. The cost of IPV over a victim’s lifetime was $103,767 for women and $23,414 for men. Only about 1 out of 5 IPV victims with physical injuries seek professional medical treatment. 2/5
In the United States, an estimated 10 million people experience domestic violence every year. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. About 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or partner stalking with injury, PTSD, contraction of STDS, etc.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any age and can occur in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Domestic violence can also include violence against children, parents, or the elderly and can take on several forms, including physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse.4
Top 10 states with the highest rates of domestic violence:
Oklahoma – 49.10%
Iowa – 45.30%
Kentucky – 45.30%
North Carolina – 43.90%
Nevada – 43.80%
Alaska – 43.30%
Arizona – 42.60%
Washington – 42.60%
Idaho – 42.50%
Missouri – 41.70%
When women flee domestic abuse, they are often forced to leave their homes with nowhere else to turn. Landlords also sometimes turn victims of domestic violence out of their homes because of the violence against them. For years, advocates have known that domestic violence is a primary cause of homelessness for women and families. Studies from across the country confirm the connection between domestic violence and homelessness and suggest ways to end the cycle in which violence against women leads to life on the streets.2
In 2005, 50 percent of U.S. cities surveyed reported that domestic violence is a primary cause of homelessness. These cities included Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Charleston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, Philadelphia, St. Paul, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Seattle, and Trenton.
A 2003 survey of homeless mothers around the country found that one-quarter had been physically abused in the past year and almost all had experienced or witnessed domestic violence over their lifetimes.
Forty-seven percent of homeless school-aged children and 29 percent of homeless children under five have witnessed domestic violence in their families, according to a 1999 report.
A 1997 survey of homeless parents in ten cities around the country found that 22 percent had left their last residence because of domestic violence. Among parents who had lived with a spouse or partner, 57 percent of homeless parents had left their last residence because of domestic violence.
According to a 1990 study, half of all homeless women and children are fleeing abuse.3
CharityRx is determined to help Lotus House to advocate on behalf of women, youth, and children experiencing homelessness to raise awareness of their special needs; inspire innovative, holistic solutions that truly break the cycle of childhood abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness; and advance service-driven research and enlightened public and social policies for greater understanding, social inclusion, and resources for women and children experiencing homelessness.
Lotus House’s mission is to improve the lives of women, youth, and children experiencing homelessness by providing sanctuary, support, education, tools, and resources that empower them to improve the quality of their lives on every level, achieve greater self-sufficiency, and build safe, secure lives.
Their vision is that every woman, youth, and child experiencing homelessness will have the opportunity to heal, learn and grow, build the foundation for a brighter future, and blossom into who they are truly meant to be.
Use this card in February to help homeless women and children.
Simply download the card and show it to your pharmacist to save on your prescriptions and donate to Lotus House.
HOW CAN I HELP?
If you are being abused and need immediate assistance, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE.
If you feel you have been discriminated against in housing because you have experienced domestic violence, call the ACLU Women’s Rights Project at (212) 549-2644 or email [email protected].
To learn more about laws and policies that can protect domestic violence victims’ housing rights, call the ACLU Women’s Rights Project at (212) 549-2644 or email [email protected].