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Domestic Violence: A Human Health Crisis

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When we talk about a public health care crisis, conversations often turn to serious illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. But the growing body of evidence shows that domestic violence can be as devastating as the world’s most complex diseases.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists domestic violence— sometimes referred to as “intimate partner violence” or IPV—as a “serious, preventable public health problem.” Domestic violence affects individuals and families and places a heavy burden on communities, law enforcement, and health care systems. In the United States alone:

  • Twenty-four people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner.1 In one study, 53 percent of men and 69 percent of women said they had experienced some form of intimate partner violence before the age of 25.2
  • Women ages 16 to 24 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of partner violence.3
  • Up to 70 percent of men who abuse their partners also sexually or physically abuse their children.4
  • Medical costs associated with intimate partner violence are estimated at $5.8 billion each year.5

Domestic violence can include sexual, physical, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. Victims of IPV may be at greater risk of experiencing chronic diseases such as heart disease, joint disease, and asthma as well as mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, in addition to loss of productivity at work or school.

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To better understand the research about domestic violence and issues related to it, Janssen Research & Development, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company, along with Saving Promise, a domestic violence prevention and social action nonprofit organization, recently hosted a Research Summit on Domestic Violence Prevention. Leaders from academia, government institutions, non-profit organizations, and the community participated in the event in an effort to elevate the conversation about domestic violence. Our symposium focused on survey data about intimate partner violence, research and prevention findings, the impact on victims, public health impact, what is known about the perpetrators, the need for additional research, and so much more.

A wealth of data were presented by multidisciplinary representatives from the CDC, Stanford University, St. Joseph University, the University of Connecticut, the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Johns Hopkins University Hospital, the JED Foundation, and Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

The participants acknowledged that no one organization can or should work alone on this problem. Its complexity demands collaboration, and the summit served as a means of connecting leaders from unique disciplines who can collectively lend their passion and experience to the task of identifying what needs to be done, prioritizing strategies, and determining how to work together to prevent domestic violence. We are pleased and honored to have had the opportunity to facilitate that dialogue.

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