Domestic Violence is not just a private matter, it is also a serious public health problem with wide ranging impacts on the community at large. Those societal impacts will be under discussion at the annual Safe Shelter Symposium on Domestic Violence happening in Longmont on Friday April 27th.
Jackie List, the Executive Director of the Safe Shelter of the St. Vrain Valley, which is organizing the symposium, says the effects of domestic violence ripples out beyond the individual and the family, into the community. “There are effects on bot the adult and the child, if there are children in the house and the child victims, that sort of carry out into their workplace and in the case of children, school.”
Economic consequences are not minor, somewhere in the neighborhood of $8.3 billion annually in the USA from lost work, lost wages, lost jobs, due to domestic violence. For the many without medical insurance, health care costs become another financial burden felt on the community. ”
The impact of domestic violence on children is also profound. A Center for Disease Control study, The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, found that children could experience life-long, debilitating health issues – including mental health issues – as a result of domestic violence. In school, children may feel the impact on their own learning, but their trauma may also disrupt their fellow students. List stresses that these early traumas do not predetermine a child’s outcome. Affirmative influences, such as the child’s own resilience, finding “that one person” who becomes positive and loving role model, schoolwork, and community programs can all give the child needed support.
But despite this, List has seen many positive changes since she began working in the area of domestic violence, over 30-years ago. “Sitting here right now, talking to you. That’s big. Because that probably wouldn’t even have happened 30 years ago.”
She also is encouraged an increase in public knowledge on the topic of domestic violence – though there is still further to go. As well, federal and local funding assign to tackle the various facets of domestic violence has been hugely impactful. Help can now go beyond offering shelter to those who come looking for help. Advocacy can go out into the community – particularly to communities where people are unlikely to seek help. Furthermore, funding has brought professionals, such as psychologist and social workers to broaden the knowledge base.
Topics included in the one-day, Safe Shelter Symposium on Domestic Violence, are the impact of domestic violence on the economics of the community, trauma informed-care, tools to identify and work with victims, how trauma can have a life-long impact on health. Presenters from the Prevention Institute will impart, “Ways that the community can galvanize around these issues and move forward in a way that is beneficial to everyone: individuals, families, communities.”
If you need support for yourself or someone you know around this issue, you can contact the Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley or call 303-772-4422. Even if you’re not in the St. Vrain Valley, they can connect you with resources in other areas.