Monday, February 22, 2010, during a Senate debate over job creation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “I had met with some people while I was home dealing with domestic abuse. It has gotten out of hand. Why? Men don’t have jobs. Women don’t have jobs either, but women aren’t abusive, most of the time. Men, when they’re out of work, tend to become abusive.”
Of course not all men who lose their jobs become abusive. However, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (I-800-799-SAFE) has released data that does suggest a link between financial stress and domestic violence. According to the NVDH, “Hotline calls in the third quarter of 2008 were up significantly over 2007, with September up 21 percent.”
The NDVH receives over 255,000 calls per year. On their website they state, “From November 12 until December 31, 2008, 32,316 Hotline calls were received, with 7,868 callers participating in the study. Of those, 54 percent (3,272) answered yes to the question ‘Has there been a change in your household’s financial situation in the past year?’
“Sixty-four percent also answered the second question affirmatively, which was ‘Do you believe the abusive behavior has increased in the past year?’”
Why do recessions affect domestic violence?
The most basic reason is that unemployed people are at home together more. They spend more time together and, unfortunately, this is during a time of high stress. Unemployment, especially extended periods of unemployment, can lead to depression, drinking and drug use.
Even in households with both people working, extended unemployment for one person can take a toll on a family—and, when the man is unemployed, that toll is often even greater. Relationships have evolved and differences between men and women have become smaller. However, long-term unemployment still can lead to a loss of self-worth. As women pick up the slack and take control over the family, men can feel even more useless. For a middle-aged man who is used to going to work every day, the disruption to his life can be almost paralyzing. This can result in anger which can turn into violence. In this particular recession, male-dominated industries, such as construction, manufacturing and finance, have been hit the hardest.
During a recession, when families have less money, it may be even harder for women to leave their abusers. If you, or someone you know, are in a bad situation and you feel like you can’t leave, at least call and talk to someone, you don’t have to go through it alone.
States Cut Domestic Violence Budgets
Many States have seen budgets cut. Unfortunately, many have had to cut back on domestic violence shelters at times when they need more beds, not less.
Last July, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger cut 100 percent of the $16.3 million budget allocated for domestic violence services.
According to WTOP.com, just last week in Virginia Governor McDonnell “suggested eliminating general fund support for nine programs outright, including $1.2 million for homeless assistance programs, $700,000 for domestic violence services, $4.8 million in child support supplements and $3.6 million for the state Healthy Families initiative.”
Arizona has also made cuts to their domestic violence budgets.
As the recession continues the hard truth is that we will probably see more cutbacks and more States joining this list.
If this wasn’t bad enough donations are also down. It is hard to give when you don’t have a lot yourself but violence doesn’t stop. If the states don’t think protecting women is important, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do it ourselves. To donate to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: http://www.ndvh.org/support-the-national-domestic-violence-hotline/make-a-donation/. Visit their website for other ways to give.
What can you do?
Get help. If you are in a violent or abusive relationship, don’t suffer alone. Abusers often isolate their victims; reaching out and talking to someone may make all the difference. Call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224 or visit their website: http://www.ndvh.org/get-help/.