Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bearing Witness

Hope House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence answers question about the economy and family violence on their blog:

Does the bad economy cause domestic violence? The answer is “no”. However, it doesn’t help in situations where there is already abuse present. Economic stresses often lead to more frequent and more violent abuse when domestic violence is already present. It also creates more barriers to a woman’s ability to flee the situation.

Domestic violence is three times as likely to occur when couples are experiencing high levels of financial strain as when they are experiencing low levels of financial strain.

Women whose male partners experience two or more periods of unemployment over a 5-year study were almost three times as likely to be victims of intimate violence as were women whose partners were in stable jobs.

Three out of four domestic violence shelters report an increase in women seeking assistance from abuse since September 2008

Shelters across the country have been dealing with budget cuts for the last several years, even as the need for services increases.


The NY Times reports that, in New York's recession-year court backlog, "Cases involving charges like assault by family members were up 18 percent statewide." Philadelphia in 2009 saw a 67% increase in domestic homicides:

The increase in domestic violence in Philadelphia is mirrored nationally, and experts say it is linked, in part, to the recession. In fact, data indicate that domestic violence had been falling in the 15 years before the recession took hold last year.

From Philly Short Sale 411:

In 2 separate instances, Philadelphia residents committed suicide this month after their homes had been sold at Philadelphia County Sheriff's Mortgage Foreclosure Sale. The first case occured March 5th when Lynda Clark, a resident at 1833 S. Newkirk Street, in South Philadelphia, was found by Sheriff's Deputies while posting notice that ejectment proceedings where underway. The second case occured on March 22nd when Gregory Bellows of 4320 Mitchell shot himself when Sheriff's Deputies arrived enforce a Writ of Possession. has investigated both cases. We started this investigation today with the hope that we would be able to find some great inspirational lesson that would be helpful to other people facing foreclosure or maybe to agents who do short sales everyday. When that wasn't working out we thought maybe we could figure out what we could have done to help these people. Unfortunately, all we found is 2 examples of people who lost hope and didn't see a way out.

It is easy to see why these people might feel hopeless. The woman, living alone, with no family, can't find a job. she could sell and walk away with a few thousand bucks but then where does she go? The man living for years off the equity in his house, again no family, no income, no credit, where is he going to live. He could do a Short Sale but where does he go from there?

Recession based murder suicides are occurring:

In Houston:

Homicide investigators say a northwest Houston home under foreclosure apparently led the struggling residents to take their own lives.

Police arrived at approximately 11 p.m. Sunday to the home on Arncliffe Drive near Antoine Drive and found a married couple shot to death. The couple left notes that indicated the shootings were suicides and a result of financial difficulties including the foreclosure of their home.

Investigators say the couple were found on their bed with the suicide notes alongside of them.

In California:

ANTIOCH — A man fatally shot his wife, then took his own life early Thursday following marital and financial problems, police said.

A recent Gallup Poll took a look at how the long term unemployed are faring. Predictably, they found that worry, sadness, stress, and depression increase for those who are unemployed for 6 months or more. The bottom line from their findings:

These findings suggest that emotional wellbeing deteriorates with length of unemployment, and even those unemployed for less than a month are not immune from the stressors of joblessness. However, it is important to note that the data do not prove causality and that other explanations could exist. For example, individuals who experience lower emotional wellbeing may be more likely to become unemployed or to have difficulty finding new employment. Still, as unemployment drags on and optimism for finding a job in the near future declines, being without a job appears to be taking an emotional toll on unemployed individuals.

Hopelessness is hard to handle, as the fishermen of the Gulf are finding:

Catholic Charities reported this week that of the 9,800 people the counselors had approached since May 1 in Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes, 1,593 were referred for counseling because of signs of depression.

“It’s the fear of losing everything,” said Representative Anh Cao, a Republican from New Orleans who has assembled a response team to travel along the Gulf Coast to assess constituents’ needs.

Mr. Cao said he had met two fishermen in Plaquemines Parish who told him they were contemplating suicide. While those cases are “extreme,” Mr. Cao said, they reflect how some people “are approaching a point of despair.”


Researchers who studied the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill said coastal residents of Alaska saw a higher incidence of suicide, divorce, domestic violence and substance abuse. To this day, many are still dealing with the effects of the environmental damage, economic losses and lawsuits.

I realize this is not uplifting information. It's grim, depressing stuff. As one of the long term unemployed, I've experienced the same feelings of despair and desperation.

Since these stories are not being widely covered, it's important to bear witness to what is happening to the people who are being hurt by the recession/depression, and the failure of our leaders to respond correctly and creatively to it.

cross-posted at MainSt/

No comments: