Economic hard times impact family violence

2009-03-27 12:45:00

Jeni Booker Senter, Santa Rosa Press Gazette

In this economy, foreclosures aren’t the only reason families are homeless. Nationally and locally, as the economic troubles increase, so does the incidence of domestic violence. And, along with the most obvious issues associated with domestic violence in a family comes the increased risk of being homeless. This is the other housing crisis we don’t hear enough about.

According to the Domestic Violence Organization, domestic violence is the biggest driver behind homelessness, and women and children are the ones mostly affected.

LegalMatch, an online resource that connects attorneys with people who need them, has reported a nearly 20 percent increase in domestic violence cases over the past 90 days. As the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression continues, LegalMatch predicts that domestic violence will tick upward this year.

“Usually domestic violence is already in the house, but the bad economy has escalated everything," says Christelyn Russell-Karazin of LegalMatch.

Marsha Travis is the Director of Residential Programs at Favorhouse of Northwest Florida’s Pensacola office. She says that the organization is seeing longer stays due to the economic situation.

“We really haven’t noticed an increase in the number of clients we are serving, but we have noticed that the ones we are helping are having to stay longer,” she says.

“Generally, during this economy, the women are staying in the abusive relationships because they are afraid of what will happen to them financially if they leave,” says Travis.

She says that people know the shelter is a temporary situation and they wonder what will happen to them when they have nowhere else to stay. “The economic troubles that everyone is facing right now often mean that to keep their home, couples have to have two incomes. We are seeing women stay in really bad abusive situations instead of leaving just to keep their homes,” says Travis.

Travis says Favorhouse depends on a lot of other organizations to assist its clients.

“We depend on a lot of other charities, like Catholic Charities, and other non-profit organizations to help with services and resources. If there are less donations coming in to these companies, or if the budgets are cut like many budgets are at this time, there is less help for us to offer our clients. The women are hurting because the organizations are hurting,” says Travis.