Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unemployment Rate: More Than Just a Number

9.7% of the D.C population is unemployed.When I think of this number, I think of women and men waiting in line at the unemployment office, families making the impossible decision between putting food on the table and paying their rent. One thing I didn’t associate with the unemployment rate was the increase of domestic violence incidences.

Bad economic times have lead to an increase in the rate of domestic violence. People who are unemployed are more likely to have arguments with their intimate partners that end in violence than people who are employed, according to a study by the National Institutes of Justice. In addition, according to this study, women who are already in violent relationships are at greater risk of violent incidences because they are more accessible to the abuser when they lose their jobs. In contrast, when you look at abused women that are employed 64% indicated their work performance was significantly impacted, a research by the Corporate Alliance to End Domestic Violence reports.   

Unemployment fuels a dismaying cycle of violence for those who are already vulnerable because of the economic hardships they face. So as we look to  yet another increase in the unemployment rate , and the largest increase in women’s unemployment rates in 25 years (women are more likely to face intimate partner violence to begin with), it begs the question – what should we be doing? I don’t have the answers but perhaps I have some helpful starting points. First of all, we can start by helping out organizations that can lend a helping hand to survivors of domestic violence. Perhaps you can refresh your memory about ways to give this holiday season with a great blog post of ours from just a couple of days ago. Or you can lend your voice by taking action on important issues that deal with what services we should be protecting when localities are facing difficult budget decisions. We can also spread the word about domestic violence and how it affects our communities. These are just starting points, but the most important thing to remember is that things are connected and when we’re reading about the current economic woes, we should keep in mind how it perpetrates violence in our community.

Thao Nguyen