United States: Declining Economy Leads to Increase in Domestic Abuse
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 9:56 AM

According to a recent article in Women's eNews, the current economic crisis is causing an increase in domestic violence incidents. The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, which works to end domestic violence worldwide, conducted research in April, 2009, surveying 600 domestic violence shelters around the United States. The Foundation's report stated that seventy-five percent of U.S. domestic violence shelters experienced a rise in women needing help since September of 2008. Seventy-three percent of these shelters believe that this increase was caused by economic issues.

According to Rita Smith, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the increase in women seeking help is related to the economic crisis in many ways. "Most importantly, domestic violence is a crime of access. Since a significant number of people have lost their jobs in the last six months that means more people are at home together for long periods of time. Money has always been an issue that causes stress between couples and in families." Batterers already use abuse and violence to control their victims and financial stress exacerbates the situation.

Domestic violence often occurs in response to financial stress, but it also contributes to it. "Economic abuse is one of the more effective ways that abusers control their victims. They will either control all the money in the family, making her account for every dime she spends and giving her the allowance he believes she needs," explains Smith. If the woman works she often must show him her pay stubs so that he controls all of the money. Smith says that when abuse occurs in financial form it can lead to more long-term damage than physical or sexual abuse.

Compiled from: Harsh Economy Highlights Cost of Domestic Abuse, Kayla Hutzler, Women's eNews, (26 May 2009).