Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Public Policy Action

Economic Justice

ECONOMIC JUSTICE/WELFARE ADVOCACY

PROBLEM

Economic coercion and lack of financial resources are powerful deterrents to victims trying to break free of abusive relationships. Access to independent economic resources—including adequate employment, job training, child support, child care, affordable housing, and public assistance—is central to abused women’s decision-making and safety-planning. In nearly all studies that address the correlation between domestic violence and welfare, well over half of the women receiving public benefits reported that they had been physically abused by a male partner in their adult lives, and of those, between one quarter and one third were currently or recently abused. Research confirms what advocates know well from experience: domestic violence victims seek economic assistance as a bridge out of abusive relationships and toward safety and independence.

Legislation often arises that would reduce access to economic assistance, create additional barriers thereto, further stigmatize poverty through invasive regulations of recipients, or other methods that would impede domestic violence victims’ attainment of financial self-sufficiency. When such legislation arises, PCADV works with several allied organizations to coordinate advocacy both for positive legislative initiatives and in opposition to proposals that would harm domestic violence victims.

2012 ACTION STEPS ON ECONOMIC JUSTICE

In light of the current Administration’s aggressive campaign to restrict access to and reduce levels of economic assistance, PCADV will intensify our focus on advocacy to oppose legislative and regulatory developments that restrict access to economic assistance for domestic violence victims and/or endanger victims' safety, particularly:

  • Submitting comments to oppose the restrictions imposed under Act 22’s broad authority to impose new regulations to curb access to and benefit levels of public assistance programs;
  • Developing talking points and other materials for use in educating legislators about the crucial role economic assistance plays in breaking free from abuse;
  • Continue working with allied anti-poverty groups to ensure the concerns of domestic violence victims are addressed throughout general anti-poverty advocacy efforts;
  • Continue advocacy for legislation that supports victims' efforts to attain financial independence from abusers (e.g., employment leave for domestic violence victims).
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