What is the Truth About Abuse?

Posted on May 23, 2012 by

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The Mary Kay Foundation conducts an annual nationwide survey about the status of domestic violence services in the United States, titled “The Truth About Abuse Survey.”

Key findings include:

  • Demand is up. Funding, services and prevention efforts are down.
  • 8 out of 10 domestic violence shelters nationwide reported an increase in women seeking help.
  • 74% of women stayed with an abuser longer for economic reasons.
  • 58% of shelters reported that the abuse is more violent now than before the economic downturn.
  • 62% of survivors could not find jobs due to the economy.
  • 43% of shelters had to decrease services offered.
  • 86% of shelters witnessed children with negative social effects such as bullying or withdrawal.
  • 87% of shelters predict their situations will be the same or worse next year.

For all the rhetoric coming out of the 1980s about getting tough on crime, we don’t seem to put a lot of social stock in getting tough on intimate partner abusers.

It’s true that self-report studies have their limits. For example, when more than half of shelters report that abuse is more violent now, is there an empirical basis? Or is that something that comes from a skewed perception from all of the criminal justice discussion over the possible effects of the economic downturn on domestic violence shelters?

But even if you set that aside, many of these figures are alarming.  Shelters are decreasing services in the face of increased need. And women stay with abusers for economic reasons. That, alone, is cause for concern and even social shame.

Are we really the society that refuses to help women leave their abusers because we won’t provide reasonable access to child care, food, and housing for the abused?

Apparently so. Let’s do better than that.

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