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Making Domestic Violence a Public Health Priority


When most people think about domestic violence (DV), they may imagine something that happens in far away places, dark and isolated.  It impacts just a minority of people, all of whom are part of a different world that is elsewhere.  But the truth is that domestic violence reaches its tentacles into many aspects of society, profoundly impacting the health and wellbeing of both the victims and of their families.

A Wide-Ranging Issue 

DV is much more prevalent in this country than some people are willing to admit.  In fact, 37 percent of women and 31 percent of men will suffer physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking by an intimate partner at some point during their lives. Significantly more common are the psychological attacks instigated by intimate partners, with nearly half of all people facing them in some way. And it bears reminding that DV occurs across religions, socio-economics, and zip codes.


The immediate physical outcomes of DV are clear: burns, lacerations, broken bones… the list goes on.  And 40 percent of females who are murdered are killed by an intimate partner. But there’s more.  Abused women all suffer higher rates of:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Mental health issues;
  • Unplanned pregnancies;
  • Unfavorable pregnancy outcomes;
  • Smoking;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Diabetes;
  • Heart disease.

The Kids 

It makes sense that when children watch a parent suffer abuse, there will be negative impacts on them. Research indicates that these children experience a number of issues at the time, including:

  • Utilization of emergency services;
  • Need of mental health interventions;
  • Physical abuse;
  • School problems.

As these children grow up, they are also more prone to have problems related to:

  • Victimization;
  • Criminal activity;
  • Perpetrating DV;
  • Chronic illnesses.

What Needs to Happen? 

Preventing and intervening in domestic violence needs to be a top priority in society.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges as much, outlining basic steps that could make a difference:

  • The promotion of healthy relationship in families;
  • The coordination of services to assist victims of DV;
  • The enforcement of laws on the books that protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable;
  • The continuation of research into causes and mediation of DV.

Focused Efforts 

Work to address DV should focus on very specific goals:

  • Providing services that respond to the cultural and social factors that are a part of DV. That means providing services that are multilingual, culturally perceptive, and responsive to a range of needs.
  • Helping survivors to become self-sufficient, including by providing access to educational services, resume-development, interview skills, job-training, and child-care.
  • Helping those in medical professions to recognize the signs of DV and alerting them to their role in intervention.

Legal Services 

Virtually anyone who has been victimized by domestic violence can benefit from appropriate legal services.  At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, our Miami domestic violence attorneys are prepared to step in to assist with the legal protections you deserve.  To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.

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