December 1996 Home   Newsletters

January 1997

February 1997

President's Message (Astrid Monson)
League Testifies on Proposed Tax Changes (Astrid Monson)
December General Membership Planning Meeting (Jean Aoki & Astrid Monson)
Member Alert
This Land Was Your Land (Donella Meadows)
In Memoriam
Sexual Harassment (Ina Percival)
Vote Count (Arlene Ellis)
Domestic Violence and Welfare (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Planning & Zoning Committee Needs More Members (Astrid Monson)
Orientation Meeting (Grace Furukawa)

Domestic Violence and Welfare

There have never been enough re sources dedicated to fund a complete range of the necessary services to assist female victims of violence. Yet, over the last few years, services for these women and their children have been drastically reduced, including funds for shelters, counseling and crisis intervention.

This has made it increasingly difficult for women to safely leave violent situations. Now women must face even more economic hurdles due to changes that are occurring through federal welfare reform.

In particular, public assistance has literally been a lifeline for battered women who attempt to leave and survive abusive relationships. But the new welfare restrictions reduce access to benefits and will negatively impact the ability of women to escape.

In their efforts to exert control batterers will attempt to sabotage their partners' attempts at independence by impeding her ability to comply with the new requirements. And the exclusion of immigrant women from welfare benefits keeps them in precarious, life threatening situations.

Many options are available to us in addressing this critical social and health issue. In fact, several recommendations are being proactively pursued in some states. One includes the adoption of a Family Violence Amendment. Such an amendment would require every benefits assessment to include a component that sensitively and confidentiality asks women about their safety and experience with violence. Safety would then become an overriding factor in determining access to benefits. The amendment would also allow waivers of specific program requirements for domestic violence (DV) survivors.

Other recommendations include relaxed work and income standards for Medicaid and food stamp recipients who are DV survivors; providing good cause exceptions to paternity establishment; relaxing onerous standards of proof for DV; providing a full range of services for immigrant women who are DV survivors; and establishing appropriate procedures that ensure the confidentiality and safety needs of violence victims.

Our society must be willing to provide a strong network of support through a continuum of necessary services, particularly economic assistance, for female victims of violence. Otherwise, we leave women and their children to situations where their very lives will be increasingly at risk. This is particularly true in Hawaii where 30% of all homicides in the state are related to domestic violence.

Suzanne Meisenzahl

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