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NY Domestic Violence Rising With Joblessness, Home Foreclosures

February 16, 2009

Hard times make it harder for victims of domestic violence. According to aid workers, the recession is ratcheting up the pressures that keep some women in abusive relationships.

That's what Mindy Perlmutter is seeing in her work as education director for the Nassau Country Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She says a woman seeking to escape an abusive relationship finds her choices narrowing.

"My clients are saying, 'In this economy, I can't get a job. Whether I have great skills or I don't, who's hiring? So, how am I going to make ends meet if I should leave my abuser?'"

Additionally, with home foreclosures threatening many households, Permutter says women will sometimes elect to remain in an abusive relationship in order to try to help the family stay together and ride out the hard times. She say says difficult economic times don't cause domestic violence, but they can increase the pressures on relationships, raise the level of violence, and reduce a victim's choices.

"Times are tough for everybody who's having economic issues, but when you're a woman in a domestic violence situation, those are the problems you were facing first. Now you’re facing domestic violence with an economic twist to it."

Every county in New York, Perlmutter says, has organizations for abuse victims to turn to for information on options, safety planning, and if need be, safe houses.

For example, the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a 24-hour hotline, 516-542-0404. Its services are free or have sliding-scale payments, and the Coalition also serves undocumented immigrants.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY