By Shontelle Davis, MSSW Intern at Kentucky Youth Advocates

Kentucky has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the United States, with 45.3 percent of women and 35.5 percent of men experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime. Domestic violence can take many forms, including chronic yelling, controlling behaviors, isolation, threats of suicide or murder, threats involving weapons, threats to take the children, and serious injuries. 

Survivors of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work annually. Missing work not only affects the individual experiencing the abuse, but negatively impacts their children as well. When a parent misses work or is fired due to domestic or dating violence, they are missing out on income that is necessary to take care of their families. 

It is crucial for survivors of domestic violence to have employment and financial independence in order to support themselves and their children. 

House Bill 83 (HB 83) is a bipartisan policy proposal that would ensure that survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, or stalking will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if their reason for not working is a direct result of abuse. Examples of this include being concerned for their safety on their way to work or while they’re at work, their abuser interfering with or removing their access to transportation or childcare, an inability to work due to emotional or physical injuries or if a survivor must move to another city or state to protect themselves and their families. In order to qualify for the benefits, survivors must provide documentation that will be used to substantiate their claim. This may include, but is not limited to, police reports, court or medical records, a statement from a shelter, an attorney, etc.

HB 83 also acknowledges the importance of being trauma-informed, by ensuring that training is provided to personnel who process claims related to domestic or dating violence and abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.  

In 2020, Kentucky had nearly 17,000 child victims of abuse or neglect – 50% of whom had experienced family violence as a risk factor. These Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can have immediate and long-term effects on a child’s well-being. Prolonged isolation and economic uncertainty due to the pandemic, has likely exacerbated these issues. 

In order to help protect survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and their children, contact your State Representative and urge them to support HB 83. We thank Representatives Nima Kulkarni and Samara Heavrin for championing this effort, and hope it moves through the General Assembly in the coming days.

Follow the progress of HB 83 on the Kentucky Youth Advocates’ Bill Tracker.

This post is part of the blog series, Intern Insights