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Tough Economy Brings Spike in MN Domestic Violence

June 13, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Police departments in Minnesota and across the nation are seeing a connection between the sluggish economy and an increase in domestic violence.

Economic strains generally won't bring on domestic violence in homes where it has not been present, says Liz Richards, director of programming for the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. But where there is already a history of tempers flaring, the extra tension doesn't help.

"Loss of a job; not having enough money to pay the bills - those are huge stressors on people. And so, if there is already domestic violence within the family, or there's already the propensity for domestic violence, that's when we see an increase in the number of incidences."

Richards says the latest annual figures showed nearly 20,000 people sought help from domestic violence services in Minnesota, through programs that receive at least some state funding. That figure does not include victims who sought help from privately-funded programs.

Richards says the depressed economy has left some victims few options, without the financial ability to escape. Many of the programs providing services also are facing budget issues and are at capacity.

"With the economic downturn, families have less resources and fewer places to turn to, and so we hear consistently - and we have for the last few years from our programs across the state - that the numbers of people that they're serving have gone up."

A recent survey by the Mary Kay Foundation found that 80 percent of more than 700 domestic-violence shelters across the nation have reported increases in the number of women seeking help.

More information is online at mcbw.org and at marykayintouch.com.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN