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Report: Domestic violence cost SC more than $350M in 2020

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 10:28 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2022 at 5:19 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A study conducted by a University of South Carolina economist put a nine-digit price tag on the economic impact of domestic violence for the state.

The report, commissioned by the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, states the crime cost the state $358.4 million in 2020.

Dr. Joseph Von Nessen of the Darla Moore School of Business announced the results of the study at a news conference Tuesday morning in Columbia.

The study found that 82,739 South Carolinians each year will be victims of intimate partner violence, he said.

“Unfortunately, our state has consistently ranked within the top 10 states for the rate of female homicide in each of the past 17 years,” Von Nessen said. “South Carolina ranks seventh among all states with respect to the percentage of females who experienced intimate partner violence at some point during their lifetimes. And about 42% of females and 29% of males in South Carolina, expected to experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes at least one time.”

The $358.4 million figure includes both explicit costs of domestic violence as well as what Von Nessen called the “hidden cost.”

Explicit costs, he said, involve program initiatives like shelters, general support mechanisms for victim support and public awareness, health care and law enforcement costs.

A study conducted by a University of South Carolina economist put a nine-digit price tag on the economic impact of domestic violence for the state.

But the hidden costs, which he said are impossible to completely quantify, are financial impacts most people don’t think about.

“This simply refers to the harm and general well-being of the victims themselves and their families not being able to return to their normal lives either temporarily or permanently,” Von Nessen said. “But the study does examine worker productivity losses associated with domestic violence in South Carolina as a means to provide a conservative estimate of what this may look like. Again, a way to provide one measure of the hidden costs and we estimate that that totals about $153 million annually for South Carolina, which represents about 43% of the total cost of domestic violence in the state.”

Von Nessen called for better measures to prevent domestic violence.

“This is truly a statewide issue that we have to have to address and to take seriously,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette said the impact goes far beyond a monetary cost.

“This is an issue that we can all come together on,” Evette said. “It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue. It’s not a rich or poor issue. This issue can touch anybody, any family, anywhere in our state. This is something as a society we need to come together. As we hear the governor say many times government can’t solve every problem.”

Evette said McMaster asked for $600,000 to go to domestic violence programs.

She urged people to talk with each other about the issue and have “hard conversations.”

“Let’s make South Carolina the state that really starts the change,” she said.

Attorney General Alan Wilson said there was a time when domestic violence was not discussed “at the dinner table or even in polite society.”

“But today we need to talk about these things, especially domestic abuse today, and to lift up those people out there because there’s a lot of folks right now who are being victimized by this and they feel like they’re alone,” he said. “They feel like there’s no one out there. But we’re here today to say that you’re not alone.”

State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg), who has worked for a social work administrator as well, said the reason the data is important is because of “a changing society.”

“When we first started doing this work you used to be able to kind of tug on people’s heartstrings and get them to really care. Those days are gone,” she said. “If you want success, you’ve got to be able to have evidence. You can’t rely on the heart, pulling on the heartstrings.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women and one in seven men will experience “severe physical violence” by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

South Carolina ranks 11th in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men, with a rate of 1.68 per 100,000, a Violence Partner Center study found.

The foundation is named for Jamie Kimble, and established by her parents, Ron and Janice Kimble, who say their daughter was killed by her ex-boyfriend on Labor Day, 2012.

The Kimbles hope Jamie’s story can help prevent intimate partner violence and to encourage healthy relationships, the foundation’s website states.

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