New Studies: Violence Locks Women Into Poverty
As activists hold up a symbolic social safety net
behind her, welfare rights activist Michelle Tingling-Clemmons calls on
Congress to stop trying to cut the limited protections it provides for
women and children in poverty.
Violence against women
is a important factor that keeps women locked in poverty, according to
a recent NOW Legal Defense and Education review of government and academic
studies. And maintaining the social safety net is an important element
of ending violence and helping families move out of poverty, NOW LDEF attorneys
Pamela Coukos and Martha Davis note.
"Study after study shows that battered women stay with their batterers
because they lack the resources to support themselves and their children,"
said Coukos. "Rigid federal mandates and funding cutbacks in many program
may have tragic consequences for vulnerable women and their families, who
must choose between personal safety and economic support."
Among some of the startling findings in the January 1996 NOW LDEF report:
One-quarter of battered women surveyed had lost a job at least partly due
to the effects of domestic violence, and more than half had been harassed
by their abuser at work.
At least 50 percent of abused women lost three days of work a month due
to medical problems resulting from abuse; domestic abuse translates into
hundreds of thousands of lost days of work every year.
When batterers harass women at work or school -- stalking, making harassing
phone calls -- or when they prevent women from attending, it can result
in low evaluations.
Batterers may sabotage womens efforts at self-improvement, by keeping them
up late before a final exam or failing to provide promised child care or
More than half of battered women stayed with their batterers because they
lacked resources to support themselves or their children.
Recent surveys find large numbers -- in some places as many as 60 or 90
percent -- of welfare recipients are, or have been, victims of domestic
violence as adults.
An estimated 40 to 50 percent of women in homeless shelters are fleeing
domestic violence, and 31 percent of women housed in New York battered
women's shelters return to their abusers, primarily because they cannot
locate long-term housing.
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