Domestic Violence:

Prevalence and Implications for Employment Among Welfare Recipients

HEHS-99-12: Published: Nov 24, 1998. Publicly Released: Nov 24, 1998.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the effects of family violence on the use of welfare programs, focusing on the: (1) prevalence of domestic violence among welfare recipients; and (2) implications of domestic violence for the employment of welfare recipients and other low-income women.

GAO noted that: (1) while studies on the prevalence of domestic violence among welfare recipients do not provide national estimates of prevalence and vary substantially in terms of methodology and the samples studied, these studies consistently indicate that a sizable proportion of welfare recipients have been or are victims of domestic violence; (2) the one study of those reviewed that was specifically designed to provide a statewide prevalence estimate was based on a representative sample of Aid to Families with Dependent Children recipients in Massachusetts in 1996; (3) this study found that almost 20 percent of the welfare recipients surveyed had experienced domestic violence in the prior 12 months, and about 65 percent had been victims of domestic violence at some time in their lives; (4) the research available on the effect of domestic violence on the employment of welfare recipients and other low-income women presents a more complex picture; (5) some research indicates that welfare recipients and other low-income women who reported ever having been abused were employed at the same rates as those who had never been abused; (6) but no studies compared employment rates among women currently in abusive relationships, as opposed to women who reported having been abused in the past, with employment rates of women who are not now in abusive relationships; and (7) however, several studies do identify potential negative effects of current domestic violence on victims' employment.

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