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DHS news release

Sept. 7, 2005


Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180

Technical contacts: Mel Kohn, M.D. (971) 673-0982

Linda Drach (971) 673-1057


New report finds intimate partner violence costs millions a year



A report released today by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) finds that intimate partner violence costs Oregonians nearly $55 million every year, with more than two-thirds of those dollars spent on health care services.


"The human face of this problem is seen every day by the healthcare system, police, courts and shelters," said Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist. "It takes a staggering economic toll that we all pay. Calculating the financial cost makes this problem even harder to ignore -- whether you're a legislator, government official or taxpayer.


"These data make a strong case for investing in programs that prevent this violence from occurring in the first place and for minimizing the long-term effects after it happens," Kohn said.


Major report findings:

  • Nearly $35 million is spent in Oregon every year to pay for medical and mental health care services brought about by intimate partner rape and physical assault.
  • Other costs include more than $9 million annually in lost productivity for victims of nonfatal intimate partner violence and approximately $11 million in lost lifetime earnings to women who are killed by their intimate partners.


DHS public health researchers worked with health economists at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to compile the economic estimates, according to Kohn.


"The medical care costs, whether billed through private or public health insurance, are paid for by all Oregonians," Kohn said. "These findings are just the tip of the iceberg because they don't take into account the costs we all pay for law enforcement, criminal justice or social service expenses."


The estimates are conservative, Kohn said, because they are based on 2001 dollars and do not include costs associated with violence against men or against women younger than 20 or older than 55. They also do not account for all the services that victims might need.


The data upon which these costs were calculated were the basis of a 2004 DHS report, "Intimate Partner Violence in Oregon." That study, focused on women between the ages of 20 and 55, found intimate partner violence to be a problem across all social, economic, religious and cultural groups.