Domestic Violence (DV) is an EVERYONE Issue

How DV Impacts the Survivor, Children, Family, Friends, the Workplace, and the Community

Community members often tell us that they see domestic violence as a “private” or “family issue” that only affects the two people in the relationship. This is a myth – domestic violence in a relationship extends way beyond those in the relationship and has far reaching negative impacts. 

We invite you to join us in preventing violence by starting to talk about intimate partners violence and its effects on everyone – even if it’s not happening to you.  At the end of this article, we offer several ideas for speaking up and supporting survivors. 

 The Big Picture 

Unfortunately, rates of domestic violence remain high with a much larger portion of the population experiencing DV than most people realize. Survivors are at high risk for depression, anxiety, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), substance use disorders, and suicidal ideation. They bring the effects and memory of abuse into their lives, though abuse is never the survivor’s fault. 


  • Over 1 in 3 women and about 1 in 3 men will experience some form of domestic violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime (Smith, 2018). 
  • 54% (over 1 in 2) of transgender and nonbinary people experience intimate partner violence, including acts of coercive control and physical harm  
  • 1 in 2 American female homicide victims are killed by a current or former intimate partner (Ertl, 2016). 
  • Domestic violence hotlines in America receive more than 19,000 phone calls daily (NNEDV, 2020). These are just the phone calls coming in. This number doesn’t include the survivors who are experiencing DV but not reaching out for support, emergency shelter, legal advocacy, financial advocacy, counseling, and trauma treatment. 

 What are the economics of DV? 

 The economic costs of DV are also surprising and high. 

  •  Domestic violence costs the US economy between $5.8-12.6 billion each year (World Health Organization, 2004). 
  • Childhood exposure to domestic violence costs the USA an estimated $55 billion a year (Holmes, 2018). This includes estimated physical and mental healthcare costs, lifetime likelihood of violent crime, and productivity costs, including lower educational attainment and a wage-earning detriment. 

 How are children impacted? 

  •  1 in 15 children have witnessed domestic violence in the past year (Hamby, 2011). 
  • 30-60% of children living in a home with domestic violence will experience abuse or neglect themselves (Edleson, 1999). 

 Witnessing domestic violence in the home can be traumatic for children and teens. Children carry trauma with them into schools, friendships, and their future dating relationships. In fact, children who witness DV are more likely to be a target or a person who uses abuse in their own teen or adult relationships. Also, they are more likely than other children to earn lower grades, have higher rates of anxiety and/or depression, engage with substances, and have increased self-harm and suicidal ideation. 

How are family and friends impacted? 

Domestic violence impacts the family and friends of the target, even if the violence is “behind closed doors” or “a secret.” Family and friends often witness abusive behaviors or warning signs, but don’t believe that it’s their place to get involved. They may also believe the couple needs to stay together no matter what– for reasons including culture, religions, kids, and familial shame. 

 If they choose to bring it up, family and friends may tell the target of abuse to leave. It may not be safe for the individual to leave, or they may not want or be able to. This may cause the target of abuse to withdraw from well-intentioned family and friends when their support is needed most. Read more supportive ways to support a target of abuse here. 

 Sometimes, a partner will directly threaten or hurt family and friends. Or the partner may purposefully draw the target of abuse away from their support system so they cannot rely on others. Someone who feels isolated or alone may not feel comfortable reaching out to their loved ones if the situation gets more unsafe. 

 Also, family and friends may not believe reports of abuse. They might believe that the partner “would never do that, because they’re so charming,” or “they’d never hurt someone.” Many people who abuse are extremely likeable around others, but they treat their partner poorly in private. 

 Unfortunately, research shows that abuse tends to get worse. If this happens, family and friends may feel guilty for not getting involved earlier.  

How is the workplace impacted? 

Domestic violence impacts coworkers and the workplace. Some partners use work to gain power and control. For example, they might hide keys or cut the internet connection to prevent their partner from going to work. The partner using abuse might show up at the workplace and intimidate the target and coworkers, which can make the atmosphere anxious and potentially unsafe. 

 Survivors lose opportunities and jobs because of their partner’s abusive behaviors. Targets of DV lose 8 million days of paid work each year, which equals 32,000 full-time jobs (World Health Organization, 2004). These lost days of work are the result of abusive tactics like those described above, medical issues, court dates, and more. 

How can I help?

Domestic violence impacts communities, and it will take everyone coming together as a community to end domestic violence for the last time. 

Everyone can play a role in supporting survivors and preventing future violence. Join us in any or all of the following actions: 

  1.  Believe survivors and support families impacted by DV. Find out more about Getting Involved at Safe+Sound Somerset.  
  2. Learn more about domestic abuse by visiting our Learning Center 
  3. Spread information about DV and available services, like those at Safe+Sound Somerset. 
  4. Speak out against societal risk factors for DV – like traditional gender norms that promote gender inequality, and cultural norms that support aggression. 
  5. Speak up when people joke about or normalize violence. Encourage them to think about how their comments could make it harder for survivors to share their stories and access services. 
  6. Model respectful actions in your own relationships and speak to young people about the importance of safe and equal relationships. 

 Call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 Helpline at 866.685.1122 if you have questions or need additional information to support someone. 



Edleson, J.L. “The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Women Battering.” Violence against Women, February 1999, 5:134-54 

 Ertl, A., Sheats, K.J., Petrosky, E., Betz, C.J., Yuan, K., & Fowler, K.A. (2019). Surveillance for violent deaths — national violent death reporting system, 32 states, 2016. MMWR. Surveillance Summaries, 68(9). Retrieved from 

Hamby, S, Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., & Ormrod, R. (2011). Children’s Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Other Family Violence. Retrieved from 

Holmes, M.R., Richter, F.G.C., Votruba, M.E. et al. (2018). Economic Burden of Child Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence in the United States. Journal of Family Violence, 33,239–249. 

James, S.E., Herman, J.L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 20215 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality. 

National Network to End Domestic Violence. (2020). 14th annual domestic violence counts report. Retrieved from 

Smith, S.G., Zhang, X., Basile, K.C., Merrick, M.T., Wang, J., Kresnow, M., Chen, J. (2018). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2015 Data Brief – Updated Release. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

World Health Organization. (2004). The Economic Dimensions of Intimate Partner Violence. Retrieved from