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Unemployment increases domestic violence risks

With the current political climate, we repeatedly hear how the downturn in the economy has affected so many — from our schools, to our national defense, to our small businesses, to our car manufacturers.

We hear the strategies used to stabilize the economy, what worked and what didn’t. We know personally how it’s affected our own households, what strategies we’ve had to implement to withstand the blows.

For many, it has and continues to be a very stressful time.

And for some, that economic stress increases the domestic violence one might experience in their relationship. Although domestic violence is not caused by poverty, unemployment and economic recession, these factors can increase the risk. When a household has already experienced some forms of domestic violence, economic stress may exacerbate it and contribute to increases in frequency and severity.

We know that domestic violence increases with unemployment. The National Institute of Justice found that unemployment is one of the factors, “significantly associated with increased risk of violence.” Additionally, the rate of violence increases when steady income is not obtained. If there are repeated periods of unemployment, the rate of violence increases from a one-time occurrence of unemployment at 7.5 to 12.3 percent with two or more periods.

Yet, a victim’s lack of money is a common reason why many stay with an abusive partner, furthering their entrapment. More than 75 percent of victims have reported staying longer in their relationships due to the state of the economy. They report their abusive partner has obstructed their ability to find work or maintain employment, and are unable to use their wages to establish greater economic independence and safety for themselves and their children.

While it can be difficult for survivors to re-establish themselves financially after an abusive relationship, there are several resources and opportunities available to help in financial recovery. From emergency financial assistance to more long-term budgeting and planning, the Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program works with survivors to find that security and begin to re-construct paths to ensure more financial stability. Increasing one’s economic supports, social networks, and overall capacity to be self-sustaining are all steps toward healing and recovery from domestic violence.

ACVAP believes all people have the right to live free from violence. Finances should never be a factor that prohibits that.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know needs more information, support or simply want to learn more, call 264-9075. All calls are free and confidential, 24-hours a day.

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