By Lauren Levine, Executive Associate
In the domestic violence prevention community, it’s a well-known fact that women are often forced to stay in abusive relationships for financial security. In fact, studies indicate that the best predictor of whether a victim will stay away from her abuser is the victim’s degree of economic independence. Yet, victims also struggle keeping a steady job due to frequent absences for medical attention or legal procedures or even because their abuser actively prevents them from going to work.
To make matters worse, a 2004 report by the National Institute of Justice found that the rate of violence against women increases as male unemployment increases. 4.7% percent of women with employed male partners are abused. When the male experiences one period of unemployment, there’s a 7.5% rate of violence and when the male experiences two or more periods of unemployment, 12.3% of female partners experience violence.
Because of this, women end up in a vicious cycle of being financially independent and in abusive relationships. In many cases for a victim of domestic abuse, unemployment insurance can be the chance she has to have the immediate resources necessary to escape violence. Estimates by Dr. Adriana Kugler, chief economist for the Department of Labor, put the number of women who will be affected by a failure to extend unemployment insurance at 2.2 million women. If one in four women are victims of domestic violence at some point in their life, then as many as 550,000 women could be experiencing domestic violence with no unemployment insurance to help them out of a financially dependent and in abusive relationship should this extension fail. If there is a chance of breaking the cycle of domestic violence, it will not start with a failure to extend unemployment insurance.
This post is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.