AARA Extends Unemployment Benefits for DV Victims

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) included several provisions for modernizing state unemployment insurance systems, such as providing access to unemployment insurance benefits to various groups who were not previously covered by state laws, including victims of domestic violence. Under ARRA, the federal government provided incentive payments to states that chose to make changes to their unemployment insurance systems.


Employment is crucial to a victim being able to separate from an abusive situation. With a job and source of income separate from an abuser, a victim can find a safe place to live, pay for alternative child care arrangements, new forms of transportation, medical costs, and legal bills. But in these days of economic uncertainty, many victims are too afraid of losing desperately needed jobs to pursue legal remedies, seek medical treatment, or to take other essential steps to secure their safety.

Employers often fire victims who reveal that they are victims of violence or who ask for assistance dealing with the violence. Two recent studies of partner stalking of victims found that between 15.2 and 27.6 percent of women reported that they lost a job due, at least in part, to domestic violence.

The full report by Legal Momentum contains information about the relationship between employment and other economic safety nets and reducing violence against women, along with information about individual states that have or have not adopted the extended benefits.


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