Report: Violence against women costs state $1 billion - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Report: Violence against women costs state $1 billion

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

An act of domestic violence was reported every 21 minutes in Nashville last year, and statewide, it's not much better.

Tennessee ranks third in the nation for the rate of women murdered by men.

A new report, The Economic Impact of Violence Against Women in Tennessee, reveals violence against women costs the state nearly $1 billion annually.

Victim Laura Kleesen was in a violent relationship with a boyfriend for three years in Utah.

"Mine was physical, mental, sexual and verbal," Kleesen said.

She finally built up enough courage to escape her abuser, with only the clothes on her back. She's now a one-year survivor.

"They're tears of joy, and tears of relief," Kleesen said while tears rolled down her face. "I don't cry tears of sadness anymore."

Kleesen was shocked to hear that a report revealed violence against women costs the state about $886,171,950 every year.

"Just disbelief; those numbers are so astounding, unbelievable and disappointing," she said. "It just boggles the mind."

The report focuses on domestic violence, sexual assault and human sex trafficking.

"We are one of the only agencies and only one in the state who have looked at this issue through an economic lens," TECW Executive Director Phyliss Qualls-Brooks said. "We in no way are saying that we can put a value on human life."

There were about 65,000 cases of domestic and sexual violence against women reported in the state last year.

"There is absenteeism and presenteeism at work, and then many women lose their job because they can't handle the stress," Brooks said.

But for every one person who reports abuse, one does not, so the number could actually double.

"It's overwhelming,and sadly for me, not surprising," said Valerie Wynn, founder and executive director of The Parrish Center, a transitional therapeutic program for domestic and sexual assault victims.

Wynn said reports like the one released Monday are needed to wrap arms around victims and prevention.

"The impact here is so far reaching, that quite frankly, I don't think even with great and wonderful, effective studies like the council did that we fully know what it really cost us," Wynn said. "We may never fully know the impact, because one will have to calculate the cost over a lifetime."

"Crimes like domestic violence and human sex trafficking erode more than just the social fabric of our families, but also the economic strength of our state," said TECW Chair Yvonne Wood. "This report identifies costs incurred by public and private entities statewide to better expose the magnitude of their impact."

The report also focuses on recommendations, especially since domestic violence accounts for more than 71 percent of all crimes against women in Tennessee.

Click to view the full report.

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