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Domestic Violence as a Welfare-to-Work Barrier: Research and Theoretical Issues (From Sourcebook on Violence Against Women, P 443-456, 2001, Claire M. Renzetti, Jeffrey L. Edleson, and Raquel K. Bergen, eds. -- See NCJ-201429)

NCJ Number
Jody Raphael
Date Published
This chapter examines how recent welfare reform measures may be detrimental to women in violent intimate relationships.
Women who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits are required under this new mandate to meet "welfare-to-work" requirements. In addition to facing child-care issues and relatively unattractive job prospects, these women may also have their work options blocked by abusive partners. One study that interviewed 122 women on welfare enrolled in a mandatory 4-week county welfare-to-work program in Allegheny County, PA, in 1998 found that 38 percent of these women reported that their current or most recent partner had hit, kicked, or thrown something at them; 27 percent were cut, bruised, choked or seriously physically abused by an intimate partner; and 18 percent were forced or coerced into sex. In a random sample of 325 women on welfare in Utah, 12.3 percent had experienced domestic violence in the previous 12 months. Anecdotal evidence suggests that domestic violence in most cases is calculated to sabotage the women's efforts to become self-sufficient through education, job training, or employment. Several research studies have found that battered women on welfare are more likely to report adverse physical health and a higher prevalence of mental health problems. These factors are typically related to poor job opportunities, performance, and maintenance. Research must further explore the interaction of the requirements of TANF and the factors that contribute to domestic violence. This can lead to the development of more sensitive, realistic, and effective welfare policies that give due consideration to the need to address domestic violence in the context of requiring such women to become self-sufficient through employment. 31 references