Domestic violence increase tied to economic downturn

By Carrie Weil - bio | email  
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A tragic and often not talked about by-product of this recession is a rise in domestic violence. As families struggle to pay their bills sometimes that stress turns physical. The effects of all this could last much longer than the economic downturn.

The numbers are often down on Wall Street these days but doctors, researchers and social workers say that's causing another to go up.

"Families who never had abuse in their relationships are absolutely being pushed to the stressing point. Things are getting more explosive than they had been," says Jane Randel of Liz Claiborne. The clothing company and the Family Violence Prevention Fund released new statistics this week related to domestic violence and the recession.

This year, nearly three out of four domestic violence shelters nationwide report seeing more women in crisis with money problems. The Center for Women and Families, which serves metro Louisville and southern Indiana, is one of them.

"Many of our shelter's victims are coming and needing to re-establish their financial independence and it's taking longer for them to find jobs," says Jean Russell, vice president of programming at The Center for Women and Families.

In fact, the average number of women who just showed up at The Center each month last year was 81. In the last three months the number has jumped to 123. That's a 51% increase. It's a huge number considering donations are off by 10% and federal and state funding is being cut.

"We just received word with Governor Beshear calling a special session that we can anticipate another 2.6% decrease in funding through the state," says Russell.

On average, a woman will try to leave her abuser nine times before finally breaking free. Several economic factors are making that even tougher these days.

"When these economic situations compound many of them are coming to us and they don't have a livable wage. So now we've doubled those barriers. When there's a lack of jobs, lack of funding to help that individual go back to school to be able to earn a living wage, those barriers really just compound the ability for that person to feel confident 'I can make the break and this time I can make the break for good,'" Russell said.

Often caught in the middle are children watching and learning a cycle of violence they could carry with them long after the money woes and bruises disappear. The Family Violence Prevention Fund reports half the teenagers with parents stressed out over money are seeing verbal, emotional, and physical abuse at home and often end up in abusive relationships themselves.

The silver lining in all this for The Center for Women and Families and shelters like them, is now more than ever, every penny counts. Donations are going straight to services that help domestic violence survivors get back on their feet. If you need help or would like to learn more about The Center for Women and Families, log onto:

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