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Domestic Violence

Abortion Restrictions Can Make it Harder to Leave Violent Relationships: What the New Study Means for Our Current Policy Fights

You may have already read about the first-of-its-kind study that documents the connection between denials of abortion and intimate partner violence.  Now it is up to us to use this important new evidence in the fight to stop bad abortion laws at the state and federal levels. Read more »

Survivors of Domestic Violence Gain Access to Health Insurance Tax Credits

Today, the Administration took important steps to ensure that survivors of domestic violence can access affordable health care. Many survivors of domestic violence have been unable to access the health insurance subsidies because they file separate tax returns from their abusive spouse. As of today, these individuals have access to a special enrollment period until May 31 to enroll in coverage and access the health insurance subsidies [PDF].

There is still more to be done. Women in other complicated circumstances are still unable to access the health insurance subsidies. For example, a woman who was abandoned and has no contact with her spouse will not be able to file a joint tax return. Some married couples have been separated for years without any formal legal separation or divorce and may no longer be in contact. Earlier this week, the National Women’s Law Center sent a letter signed by 49 organizations asking for survivors of domestic violence, abandoned spouses and individuals in other complicated circumstances to have access to the health insurance subsidies.   Read more »

Fairness at Work Promotes Women’s Safety at Home

Intimate partner violence is all too common. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in four women in the United States experience violence in an intimate relationship at some point during their lives including as many as 324,000 pregnant women each year. Intimate partner violence itself increases the likelihood of unintended pregnancy, and pregnancy can be an especially dangerous time for women in abusive relationships, as abuse often escalates during the pregnancy. In fact, the leading cause of death among pregnant and postpartum women in the U.S. is homicide.

We cannot ignore these numbers. Financial security is crucial for all pregnant women, but it can be a matter of life and death for pregnant women facing domestic violence. Domestic violence affects women of all ages, races, religions, and sexual orientations. There is one common thread: women need a way out. Economic dependence keeps women trapped in violent relationships. To get to safety, women need a way to take care of themselves and their baby. They need to be able to keep their jobs and rely on their income.

That is where the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) comes in. Introduced in both houses of Congress, the PWFA would let pregnant women continue to do their jobs and support their families by requiring employers to make the same sorts of temporary accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions that they do for disabilities when women need them to continue safely working during pregnancy—like a reprieve from heavy lifting duties, permission to stay off ladders, or the ability to sit on a stool behind the cash register. Read more »

The American Dream: Absolutely No Tolerance for Domestic Violence

For the past month, during my morning and evening commute, I have been welcomed with a sign that says 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. 1 in 4. That means out of my 3 college girlfriends and me, one of us will or have experienced violence from an intimate partner or spouse. Sadly, whenever I look at this sign, it rings true to my life. Domestic violence and everything it encompasses is one of the issues that drive my passion in women’s rights. From a young age, I have seen how lightly it can be taken and how cultural pressures can muffle the voices that domestic violence affects the most.

My ethnicity is South Korean. I come from a culture that is rather patriarchal. Though my country has made great strides, my parent’s generation still influences my generation both in the States and in South Korea. During my parent’s generation, moving to America symbolized a new start. Folks truly believed in the American dream – a chance to recreate one’s life in a land with limitless possibilities and resources and in a country that encouraged individualism. Because of instability in South Korea from the 1960s to 80s, my parents like many other families sought to immigrate to the United States. Women followed their husbands with a hope for a wildly different and better life.

Unfortunately, moving to America did not immediately translate to stability for many Korean families. Finding a place to belong proved difficult and many Korean men would become easily stressed, dealing with both providing for their family and continuous language barriers. Read more »

HERVotes Blog Carnival – Turning “Ifs” into “Whens”: College Students Like Me Need Reauthorization of a Full VAWA

This blog was originally published on June 29, 2012. We are re-publishing it today in honor of the HERVotes blog carnival on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Author Dana Bolger is a former NWLC intern, feminist, and student activist. You can follow her on Twitter at @danabolger.

I dream of a day when men on college campuses no longer rape with impunity.

If that day comes, my safety and well-being will be valued more than my laptop’s. Students found responsible for sexual assault will receive more than slaps on the wrist.

If that day comes, the rape of an intoxicated woman, or a girlfriend, or an ex-girlfriend, or a man, will finally be considered “real” rape. There will be no such thing as “gray rape” or “acquaintance rape” or “date rape.” It will all be called by its proper name, the only name: Rape.

If that day comes, victims will no longer be blamed for the crime another person perpetrated against them. Faculty and students will be taught to recognize the signs of dating violence and domestic abuse. The officials who adjudicate disciplinary decisions will receive training appropriate to understand the complex psychology behind the cycle of abuse, rather than being told – as one disciplinary committee member was at my college – that “it’s pretty much common sense anyway.”

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has the potential to begin a journey on which each “if” will turn into a “when.”

But right now, the VAWA bill is languishing in Congress, the surprising target of an effort to turn the issue of violence against women – a problem that everyone should agree merits action – into a partisan battle. On Tuesday the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women rallied on Capitol Hill in a renewed effort to push the reauthorization bill through Congress before the end of the summer. Read more »

5 Reasons Why We’re Part of the One Billion Rising in Protest Against Violence Against Women

As individuals willing to give voice to troubling problems and struggle towards difficult solutions, we rise on behalf of women.

As partners, advocates, family and friends, we rise in collaboration with survivors.

As a global community, we rise through women’s progress.

Rise for VAWA!These are the simple but fundamental truths V-day encourages us to reflect on. While it is often painful and uncomfortable to talk about the culture of violence and oppression that leads to 1 in 3 women being assaulted, beaten, or raped in her lifetime, the alternative is unthinkable. Silence is not an answer. Ignorance, as we’ve seen through the intense backlash against misguided statements related to assault, is not bliss. And the problem will not simply go away if we leave it alone.

However tattered, ugly, or shocking the truth may be, only by addressing facts rather than falling back on myths can we craft solutions (be they legislative, cultural or community-based) that truly improve people’s lives.

Myth 1: Violence against women is rare.

Truth: Violence toward women is extremely common. 1 in 3 women, approximately, 1 billion women, will experience violence in her lifetime. A perpetrator is more likely to be an intimate partner or family member than a stranger. In the U.S. a woman is beaten or assaulted every 9 seconds. Read more »

5 Reasons NWLC is Recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In addition to being Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month (affectionately known as DVAM). If you want to raise awareness for these causes, I hope you have a lot of purple clothes – last Friday was Spirit Day where LGBTQ individuals and allies were encouraged to wear purple to take a stand against bullying, and today in D.C., it’s Purple Thursday. Check out this picture of NWLC staff decked out in their violet best!

NWLC Staff on Purple Thursday

Domestic Violence Awareness Month began in 1987 as a way to connect communities working to end domestic violence, to honor survivors and remember victims, and to educate community members about the effects of domestic violence and how to prevent it. To do our part to spread awareness, we wanted to share five somewhat unexpected ways that domestic violence affects women and girls and intersects with NWLC’s work. Read more »

Q & A: What DV Survivors and Their Advocates Need to Know About Taxes

Click here to download NWLC's Checklist of Tax Issues for DB SurvivorsAdvocates serving survivors of domestic violence know that survivors face a number of pressing needs – including safety or shelter or immediate access to cash. Many advocates and survivors may not think about tax issues when they are dealing with those others. But taxes can be an important way for survivors to establish economic independence – and there are some potential pitfalls that survivors need to be aware of. Read on to learn more!

Q: Should my client file a tax return on her own?

A: If your client is married, there are a couple of things she needs to think about before she files her taxes. If she files using Married Filing Jointly status, she will be on the hook for any tax liability (unless she qualifies for innocent spouse relief), and she will need to sign the return along with her husband. If she files using Married Filing Separately status, she will not be eligible for many tax credits, like the federal EITC, the federal Child Tax Credit, or the federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, that could otherwise give her a financial boost (see below). If she files as Single or Head of Household, however, she will not be subject to joint tax liability and she may qualify for credits like the EITC. She can file as Single if she is legally separated from her husband. If she is either legally separated OR lives apart from a spouse for the last 6 months of the year and pays half of the costs to maintain a household where a dependent child lives for over half the year, she can also file using Head of Household status. Read more »

Victims of Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania Get Some Protection from Eviction

Last month, Pennsylvania provided increased protection for domestic violence victims living in affordable housing in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC). The LIHTC program uses federal tax credits to incentivize the development of low-income housing, and each state, through Housing Finance Agencies, administers the program on behalf of the federal government.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency made history in September when it released its 2013 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP). The QAP establishes Pennsylvania’s requirements for administration of the LIHTC program in the state. One line in the 27-page document has the potential to have a big impact for victims of domestic violence: “Experience as of [sic] victim of domestic violence alone may not constitute good cause for eviction under the terms of the lease.” This change to Pennsylvania’s LIHTC administration has been long advocated for by two local organizations that work directly with LIHTC renters—Community Legal Services and Regional Housing Legal Services. Read more »

NWLC’s Weekly Roundup: January 16-20

Welcome to another weekly roundup! We’ve got a few quick hits today, including the possible future of some domestic violence shelters, recognition for an inspiring young scientist, good news in the health care world, and a few celebrations coming up. Read more »