8 Current Issues Crim. Just. 243 (1996-1997)
Men's Violence and Programs Focused on Change

handle is hein.journals/cicj8 and id is 247 raw text is: Men's Violence and Programs
Focused on Changet
REBECCA EMERSON DOBASH AND RUSSELL P DOBASH*
The costs of violence against women
The personal, social and financial costs of violence against women are immense. There
are, of course, the human costs: the fear, anxiety and injuries experienced by abused
women and the stress upon children who witness their father hitting their mother and en-
dure the atmosphere of a household filled with tension and episodic scenes of physical at-
tack, frantic attempts to get help, visits by the police, flights into the night, and periods of
living away from home. The costs of violence are, indeed, substantial. Recent estimates by
the World Bank indicate that violence against women accounts for one out of five healthy
years of life lost to women of reproductive age (Heise et al 1994). Domestic violence, ac-
cording to these estimates, constitutes a significant cause of disability and death among
women in both the industrial and the developing world. The financial costs of violence
against women have recently been subjected to economic analysis in Australia and New
Zealand, and it is estimated that in New Zealand the overall annual cost of violence against
women in the home is equal to the entire budget of the social services (Snively 1994).
Personal, social and medical services are all involved in responding to violence against
women. Physical injuries, chronic ill-health and emotional stress lead women to seek help
and research shows that GPs are often consulted on a frequent basis (Hague and Malos
1993). Serious injuries can result in the use of hospital services, and dental care may be re-
quired for broken teeth and jaws. The psychological impact of continual violence and in-
timidation may also lead to the need for psychiatric services for women. Chronic
depression and attempted suicide may also be associated with habitual violence and in-
timidation (Stark and Flitcraft 1991).
Personal and housing services become involved when women seek support and advice
or when they attempt to secure temporary or permanent accommodation. The process of
leaving and returning - often associated with efforts to re-negotiate a violent relationship
- inflicts considerable personal burdens on women and children, relatives and friends,
and incurs financial costs for the state (Dobash and Dobash 1992; Hague and Malos 1993;
Ball 1994). Housing and social work practitioners spend time responding to the large and
often 'invisible' number of cases processed through their agencies, and these represent
only a small proportion of the actual number of cases that occur. When women leave and
attempt to establish a new and separate residence, there are the costs of resettlement and
f   For a full account of the research see Dobash, Dobash, Cavanagh and Lewis, 1997. This research was
funded by a grant from the Scottish Office and the Home Office. The paper was presented at the
Conference International Perspective on Violence Against Women: Evaluating New Initiatives, Sydney,
Australia on 29 August 1996.
*   Violence Research Centre, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Manchester.

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