Domestic violence is a major cause of death and disability for women in the age group of 15 – 44 years and the death toll due to this menace equals to cancer while its negative impacts on the health of women “surpasses that of traffic accidents and malaria combined” (Avloniti, 2012, p.4)…
Though the United States of America is a developed country where women’s freedom and equality is highly valued, the problem is rampant in this nation also. While the problem is highly significant as a social and legal issue, more important is its impact on the society as a challenging public health issue of far reaching consequences. The gravity of the problem can be understood from the fact that during 2005, “1,181 women” have been killed by an “intimate partner” and that females sustain “two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year” (The Facts on Domestic, Dating and Sexual Violence, 2009, p.1). Apart from the women who suffer due to the direct consequences of domestic violence, the children and other family members are also affected by domestic violence. However, most importantly, this menace is a serious public health problem which can have significant impacts on the community. The relevance of domestic violence as a major public health issue can be evidenced from the fact that females who become victims of this menace are “80 percent more likely” to suffer from a stroke and “70 percent more likely” to develop heart diseases (p.2). In addition, evidence also suggests that such women are more prone to diseases like asthma besides the possibility to “drink heavily” (p.2). In this context, it needs to be appreciated that healthcare costs can have a damaging effect not only on the family budget but also on community funding because when the government has to spend heavily on free medical services to those affected by domestic violence, the resources to be spent on developmental activities will be reduced. This becomes evident from the fact that New York State alone has spent “$227 million in 2005” on domestic violence, which could otherwise have been spent on developmental activities for the state (City Spending on Domestic Violence: A Review, 2007, p.1). In the specific context of the New York community, it transpires that as of 2005, nearly “13 percent of all murders” in this city are attributed to domestic violence and the total number of reported incidents comes to “226,000” (p.2). As stated before, the state spends a hefty sum on combating the problem and the expense primarily goes to “emergency social services” to females who fall victim to the menace, cost of law enforcement, preventive measures as well as other long term services (p.2). Healthcare is the most basic of the emergency social services provided to victims of domestic violence and community nurses have a key role to play in this effort. The service also needs to focus on preventing the recurrence of the incidence of domestic violence as well as “programs that assist victims” (p.2). Again, community health nurses have a significant role as a conduit between the healthcare systems and the victims or their families. Also they can play a pivotal role in creating awareness about the problem within the community. Identifying potential families and providing counseling to them by the public healthcare nurses can go a long way in preventing recurrences. From the evidence emerging from various published materials, it transpires that domestic violence is a major public healthcare issue in the United States in general and New York State in particular. The problem not only costs heavy expenditure on an individual or family level but also places a hefty onus on the state as a result of which funding on developmental ...
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