A new study discovered three years after women have stopped experiencing some form of domestic violence, their health costs are significantly higher than women who have never been abused. Health costs of abuse victims were more than $1,200 for the first and second years after abuse ended above women who had not experienced abuse, and around $400 higher in year three.
The health care costs reflect the idea that women continue to experience both physical and emotional problems for years after abuse has ended.
This study is the first analysis of the fluctuation in health care costs after abuse of women who have faced some form of domestic violence. The study examined costs during abuse and also each year for a maximum of 10 years after.
Researchers explained results of domestic abuse are similar to a chronic health condition when related to health care costs.
The study analyzed 2,026 women patients and all women gave permission to researchers to access their confidential medical information.
For the study, women were questioned about which type of abuse they experienced (physical, sexual, or psychological), and if so, what year the abuse started and stopped, since they were 18 years old.
Overall, about 42% (859 women) reported they had experienced some kind of abuse during their adult lifetime.
Of all women reporting abuse, about 39 percent of women explained their abuse to be “not severe” or “slightly severe,” and around 25 percent suggested their abuse was “extremely severe.”
In this study, the health costs of abused women where $585 higher per year than women who had not experienced abuse. After abuse ended, health costs of women were a staggering $1,231 greater in year one, $1,204 greater in year two, and $444 greater in year three. Health costs leveled out similarly to non-abused women by year four.
Researchers believe women might not be obtaining health care necessary when in an abusive relationship. Fear of retaliation may influence their decisions, especially if their partner is controlling.
Another explanation for the increase in health costs after abuse has ended may be women seeking mental health services.
Researchers explain how preventing domestic violence may not only help the women involved, but also play a pivotal role in reducing overall health care costs as well.