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WV Domestic Violence Survivor: Expand Unemployment to Cover Us

May 18, 2009

Charleston, WV – The federal government is offering West Virginia additional funding to expand unemployment coverage, and one group that could be made eligible for coverage for the first time is people who leave their jobs because of a domestic crisis. Advocates for survivors of domestic violence are supporting the proposal, including Paula Booth, who says it would make it easier to get away from her ex-husband. The Greenbriar County woman would like to quit her job, but can't. She says she and other victims of domestic violence feel financially trapped in situations that threaten their health or safety. Booth has been stalked by her ex-husband for three years, she says.

"I have two little girls and the three of us pretty much live like we’re in a prison. And my only option is to leave."

Booth says her situation is a real domestic crisis, especially because of her children.

"I could pack up and go if I was just looking out for myself, but when you have two small children and you know, how hard is it to sell a house and find a job?"

Krista Fink of Charleston survived domestic violence several years ago and now works with women going through it. She says many of them feel financially stuck.

"They worry about living day-to-day, feeding their children, keeping a roof over their heads. They own homes together with their abusers; they have debt together. What are they going to do?"

The proposed unemployment expansion would be funded by $22 million in federal stimulus money. Critics point out the changes in law would be permanent, while the funding would be temporary.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV