Survey Design for TANF Caseload Project: Summary Report and Recommendations. Rational for Why the Topic Was Chosen


Domestic violence refers to a broad array of tactics that perpetrators may use within a relationship to exert power and control over the victim. It can involve emotional and verbal abuse, physical and sexual abuse, the exercise of coercive, controlling or threatening behavior, stalking and other psychological abuse. These behaviors typically result in physical and emotional harm to the victim.

New evidence confirms that domestic violence is an important contributor to the decision to apply for TANF. As part of the CalWORKS Prevalence Project, welfare recipients who were receiving domestic violence services were interviewed. Thirty-seven percent indicated that a domestic violence situation was the sole reason they applied for cash assistance; another 18 percent said it was a contributing factor in their decision to apply (Meisel 2000). As might be expected, the lack of independent economic means is a major reason many women remain in abusive relationships, and welfare is one of the ways by which women can leave these harmful situations.

Domestic violence can affect a womans ability to attend work or training programs, both directly and indirectly. The partner may prevent the woman from going to work or may harass her at the workplace. Direct physical harm may result in missed work; and the emotional consequences of being abused  including fear, depression, and anxiety  can be sufficiently distracting to affect the womans job performance. More subtle effects of domestic abuse may involve undermining the respondents ability to balance work and home responsibilities.

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