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Counting the cost of domestic abuse

RCN Nurse of the Year Amanda Burston on domestic violence's human and financial costs

Recovery is the theme for ARCH Domestic Abuse Services' 2015 annual conference to be held in Staffordshire in November. 

Similar events will be hosted across the UK that month, as everyone involved in combating - or picking up the pieces from - domestic abuse comes together to increase engagement, further knowledge and awareness, and hold open discussions on the national, and international, spreading epidemic of domestic abuse. 

One topic is likely to be the cost of domestic abuse - not just personal but financial too. 'Islands in the Stream,' an independent report published in 2011, highlighted the cost to society from the effects of domestic abuse, an estimated £26 million every day, 365 days a year. The cost of every homicide review is around the £1million mark.

In England alone the estimated total cost of domestic violence is some £5.5 billion a year.

This includes:

£1.6bn for physical and mental health costs

£1.2bn in criminal justice costs

£268m in social services costs

£185.7m in housing and refuge costs

£366.7m in civil legal costs

£1.8bn in lost economic output 

No single service is exempt from the effects of domestic abuse, and working together, sharing information, talking to each other will and can saves lives. 

Many people may claim to be able to educate on domestic abuse and its effects, but the truth is, the only expert is the victim. Every victim has a unique story, with individual challenges and difficulties. A programme of recovery support has to be made to measure, tailored to fit the exact needs of the victim. 

Every safety support programme has to consider the exclusive identifiers of the victim, the children, the home, the family, the finance, the pets, the employment, the rituals and the routines. The support has to be flexible, fluid, distant, hidden. Most of all, it has to be safe. 

Prevention is definitely preferred over recovery. With the rising costs of domestic abuse affecting the economy, and the already stretched and depleted funds in NHS, can anyone afford not to face up to, and address, the reality of domestic abuse in the UK today? I urge you to find out what's happening in your area in November and get involved. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: domestic abuse is everyone's business. 

About the author

Amanda BurstonAmanda Burston is the RCN Nurse of the Year 2015 and major trauma co-ordinator at Royal Stoke University Hospital

Photo gallery: Amanda Burston and the Safer Steps Team
Feature: Dedication to tackling domestic violence

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