Kansas Employment Security Insurance Act for Survivors of Domestic Violence Becomes Law
A victim of sexual and domestic violence has an incredibly difficult time continuing to work under the dangers and pressures of a violent relationship. Rebecca Smith from the National Employment Law Project, who co-authored a paper on the topic, shared the following statistics: 81-96% of employed domestic violence victims experience diminished performance on the job; 35-56% of them are harassed at work by their abusers; 55-85% missed some work because of the violence; and, one study showed that 24-52% of victims lost jobs because of the violent relationship while another showed that 97% had to quit or were fired because of the domestic violence. ("Unemployment Insurance & Domestic Violence: Learning from Our Experiences," by Rebecca Smith, Richard McHugh, Robin Runge [May 2002].) 1 There is no doubt that sexual and domestic violence may prevent a victim from maintaining her employment.
These were the statistics that brought Rebecca Smith to Kansas during the last legislative session, where she testified on House Bill 2353. Co-sponsored by Representative Rocky Nichols, whose sister was killed by her estranged husband who was always able to track her down at her job, HB2353 sought to provide an additional safety net for employed victims of domestic violence. Passed by an overwhelming majority of both Houses, the Employment Security Insurance Act for Survivors of Domestic Violence became law in Kansas on July 1, 2003.
Other states have done the same. In 2003, six states (Kansas, Indiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas) adopted provisions covering domestic violence as "good cause" for leaving work and collecting unemployment benefits. Montana also enacted a law eliminating the sunset on its domestic violence provision, and North Carolina adopted a law expanding its provision. In the past seven years, 24 states have adopted various forms of this measure. Indiana and Kansas enacted the broadest provisions in 2003.2
Provisions in the new Kansas law include definitions of abuse and domestic violence, a list of "good cause" reasons for leaving a job due to domestic violence, a mandate that the information about the abuse be kept confidential, and guidelines for "suitable work" rules which include consideration for the safety and security of the victim.
Under the Kansas Employment Security Insurance Act for Survivors of Domestic Violence (the Act), "abuse" is defined broadly and includes not only physical harm and the threat of physical harm but also causing a person to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threats, or duress. The definition includes engaging in mental abuse, as well as depriving another of health care, housing, food and other necessities of life. And, finally, the "abuse" definition includes restraint on the liberty of another. Much broader than the definition of abuse found in the Kansas Protection from Abuse Act, this Act's definitions should provide an economic safety-net for many victims of sexual and domestic violence in Kansas.
The major weakness in this law is that it does not cover victims who have been sexually assaulted by a stranger or casual acquaintance. To qualify under the Act, the abuse must be committed by a current or former spouse, a person with whom you have a child in common, a person you live with or have lived with in the past, a person related by blood or marriage, or a person with whom you have or had a dating or engagement relationship.
A survivor may now leave her job for a number of reasons, while still retaining the possibility of qualifying for unemployment insurance benefits. Examiners considering whether a survivor had "good cause" for leaving her job may consider the following: Whether she had a reasonable fear of future domestic violence at or en route to or from her place of employment; whether the survivor had a need to relocate to another geographic area in order to avoid future domestic violence; whether she had a need to address the physical, psychological and legal impacts of the domestic violence; whether she had to leave employment as a condition of receiving services or shelter from an agency which provides support services or shelter to victims of domestic violence; or whether she had a reasonable belief that termination of employment was necessary to avoid other situations that may cause domestic violence and to provide for the future safety of herself and her family.
This Act is a great leap forward for victims of domestic violence who are forced to leave their jobs when safety becomes a critical issue. The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence and its member programs applaud the Kansas Legislature for recognizing the need for such a law. The Kansas Department of Human Resources also deserves applause for working with KCSDV to assure that all Department staff applying this new Act have been trained on both the law and on the dynamics of domestic violence. KCSDV will be publishing a brochure for victims, providing them with this information. The draft brochure is currently being reviewed by KDHR.
- This paper in its entirety, and other good information, may be found at the National Employment Law Project website at www.nelp.org/docUploads/pub92.pdf
From the Director
by Sandy Barnett
Just more than thirty years ago a grass roots movement to end rape and domestic violence was first started. It did not start as a nationally organized movement, but was built by the work of activists in one small community after another. That work was guided by two principles: An understanding that violence against women was connected to other forms of oppression - racism, ageism, sexism, homophobia, etc.; and, the movement would be informed by women's lived experiences. It was these stories that women told of their experiences on the streets and in their homes that fueled the work of advocates.
Twenty-Five years ago, it seemed that a bed in a safe home for a few nights and some used clothing was the best we could do for women and their children who were fleeing from abusers. Twenty-five years ago, at the heart of our advocacy for victims of sexual assault was a hotline and help in the emergency room. Even though it was so much more than was available for the decades before, it still wasn't enough. It wasn't enough because women were still beaten and raped every day.
But we kept working. Advocates and allies developed shelters and emergency room protocols; we lobbied for laws to allow emergency access to the courts; we pushed for the Violence Against Women Act and funding for crisis workers; we provided outreach; we facilitated support groups; and more and more and more. It still isn't enough because violence pervades every area of our lives in every community across the United States and Kansas. The stories keep coming. It isn't enough.
Why is it not enough? Because while at home, while at work, while out shopping, while practicing our faith, while sunbathing on the beach, while watching a movie, while taking the trash to the curb at night, while sleeping in our own bed, while running in to the office on a weekend, while taking our children for a nature walk, we are still aware of our vulnerability to an abuser or potential rapist.
What will be enough? It will be enough when women and their children don't need any shelters or need advocates on call every day and every night of every week of the year. It will be enough when no woman's life story is marked by the rape that occurred while she was in college and/or the stories of the violence at the hands of her children's father. It will be enough when the last story is told. It will be enough when the last hotline has gone silent. It will be enough when the door closes on the last shelter. That is when it will be enough.
Fueled by each story we hear, the work to end violence in the lives of women and children must be relentless. It doesn't matter that the research indicates violence against women may be decreasing - because, you know what, it isn't. As long as any woman has a story to tell, the violence isn't decreasing fast enough.
Remember: Women's experiences are the fuel. As long as you know one woman who has ever experienced a rape, a sexual assault, or who has seen her life flash before her eyes at the hands of a batterer, there is work to be done. There is enough work for everyone - families, friends, employers, health care workers, law enforcement personnel, courts, child care workers, dentists, construction workers, concerned citizens, librarians, computer programmers - enough for anyone who wants to hear an end to the stories of violence, rape and abuse.
HOW DO WE MAKE IT STOP?
Health-related costs of domestic violence against women exceed $5.8 billion each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of that total, nearly $4.1 billion are for direct medical and mental health care services and productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion. (See *www.cdc.gov/ncipc)
With an awareness of the enormous financial and emotional cost of violence toward women, what can be done to keep this violence from occurring?
Do we raise our male children to be perpetrators of violence toward women? Some estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 4 males have used physical violence, sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, psychological/emotional abuse, stalking and/or economic abuse to establish a pattern of coercive power and control over his intimate partner.
Since the start of the sexual assault and domestic violence movements, we have expanded our focus from services for victims and their children and public education on sexual and domestic violence to looking at best practices to remediate sexual and domestic perpetrators so that they would not terrorize additional victims. If we continue to improve our responses to abusers so that they do not re-offend, what can we do to keep so many individuals from violating their partners in the first place?
In an effort to answer this question, the CDC, using a competitive application process, has selected 14 state domestic violence coalitions to use public health strategies for primary prevention efforts in specific communities. KCSDV has been chosen as one of the 14 to help specific Kansas communities focus on developing strategies to prevent violence from first occurring.
Researchers try to understand abusers' behavior by looking for contributing risk factors at each level of the social ecology. "At the individual level, risk factors include attitudes and beliefs. At the family/partnership level, risk factors include attitudes, beliefs, structures and family/relationship norms. At the local community level and the larger societal level, risk factors include attitudes, beliefs, social norms, and institutional structures, policies, and procedures," according the CDC and DELTA state coalitions. It will take many dedicated individuals to organize attempts to reduce these risk factors and bring about social change.
As we increase our prevention efforts and work for social change, we need to keep in mind that this will be a long haul. It may help to remember that it took 70 years for women to get the vote in this country after long and arduous exertion by many courageous women and men.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was written by Alice Paul, suffragist leader and founder of the National Woman's Party in 1923. In the 1980's, after many valiant efforts, we were unable to get enough votes to ratify the ERA. If that simple amendment is still considered too radical to become law in this country, then the long held beliefs and attitudes around violence toward women will involve a lot of labor by many energetic and persistent men and women.
Will our ongoing efforts to prevent violence be successful? As Margaret Meade has so eloquently reminded us, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."
Domestic Violence in the Workplace
Homicide is the #1 leading cause of death for women on the job, and 20% of those were murdered by their partner at the workplace. - Bureau of Labor Statistics 1993
"A woman seated behind her computer in a downtown office building was shot to death Tuesday morning by her estranged husband, who then turned the gun on himself. Jennifer Smith, 32, died within minutes. Three hours earlier, Jennifer had reported to police that her husband had violated a protection from abuse order for the second time in 10 days. Police reported that John Smith had purchased the bullets just moments prior at a store located down the street from Jennifer's workplace."
The scenario above is fictional, but unfortunately real news reports just like it play each year in the US. Domestic violence doesn't stay home when its victims go to work. It can follow them, resulting in violence in the workplace. Or it can spill over into the workplace in other ways: threatening phone calls, stalking, absences because of injuries or a decrease in productivity from extreme stress. Domestic violence in the workplace includes all types of behavior that affect a person's ability to perform a job. With nearly one-third of women reporting physical abuse by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, it is a virtual certainty that in any company, domestic violence will impact its employees.
Domestic violence costs employers hundreds of millions of dollars each year in increased health care costs. Not only are productivity, absenteeism and health care costs concerns of employers, but so is workplace safety. It is crucial that domestic violence be seen as a serious, recognizable, and preventable problem like thousands of other workplace health and safety issues that effect a business and its bottom line. Increasingly, employers across the U.S. are addressing domestic violence by implementing programs and policies that respond to and help prevent abuse, treating it as a preventable health problem.
The effects that domestic violence has on each individual employee should also be a concern employers understand. If employees who are abused have ongoing performance problems and are not able to get help, they may lose their job as a result of the abuse. This means losing resources victims need to escape from the abuse, as well as the loss of a valuable employee.
Business, out of self-interest, should respond to domestic violence, and do so in a businesslike way. By working to mitigate the economic, legal, and productivity risks related to domestic violence, a business will also create a workplace that is safer for victims, and at the same time, will send a powerful message to society that responding to domestic violence is "good business".
Domestic violence is an important business issue that cannot be ignored. The workplace is where many women facing domestic violence spend the majority of their day. It's an ideal place for them to get help and support. Domestic abuse effects employee health and well-being, productivity, benefits costs, and risk to the employer. When employers address domestic violence in the workplace, they have the power to save money - and save lives.
According to the American Institute on Domestic Violence, it is estimated that domestic violence costs employers between $3-5 billion every year. Moreover, employers lose another $100 million in lost wages, paid sick leave, and absenteeism linked to domestic violence.
For additional information, questions, or copies of sample policies, contact KCSDV. Material adapted with permission from the Family Violence Prevention Fund.
Creating a "Domestic Violence in the Workplace" Policy
- Define partner violence. CAEPV defines partner violence as abusive behavior occurring between two people in an intimate relationship.
- Determine existing policies and guidelines that could be applied to this policy. Then determine how they could be modified to address partner violence.
- Determine what new policies must be developed.
- Employees may need time off to seek protection, go to court, look for new housing, or enter counseling for abuse (for victim and abusers), or for other reasons related to partner violence. Define policy for flexible work hours, short-term leaves of absence, and extended leaves of absence.
- Consider what special accommodations you may be able to make for victims of partner violence e.g., relocation help.
- Determine how far you as the employer can go in aiding an employee who is abused or an abuser, while maintaining the integrity of the workplace and safety of all employees.
- Include specific procedures for responding to situations that occur in the workplace (an employee should..., coworker of a person who is a victim or abuser should..., the manager or supervisor should..., Human Resources should..., Security should...).
- Communicate your policy clearly to all employees. Establish a specific reporting protocol so that employees at every level know who to report to and under what circumstances information is to be reported.
- Job programs and benefits available to other employees should not be denied to employees based solely on partner violence related problems. By the same token, those employees should have set performance expectations, just as all employees do.
Reprinted with permission from Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence.
She is someone's daughter. She is our daughter. She is someone's sister. She is our sister.
When a friend or family member is experiencing abuse, knowing what to do to help and support them can be difficult, even for those who are in the helping professions. Addressing domestic violence in our personal relationships can be more intimidating than addressing the same issues with those that we are serving. Professionals may be aware of the signs of domestic violence when working with clients, yet we may overlook them in our personal lives. Signs such as:
- She often has bruises or injuries or has frequent "accidents"
- Her partner controls her activities or the family finances, or limits her contact with friends and family.
- She frequently cancels plans at the last minute or seems afraid of making her partner angry.
- She appears frightened or exhausted.
It is critical to address domestic violence both personally and professionally. The following are common reasons why people often choose to not intervene when someone they are close to is experiencing domestic violence.
I shouldn't get involved in a private family matter.
Domestic violence is not just a family problem. Domestic violence affects every sector of our communities. Therefore, communities and individuals need to take an active role in confronting the problem of domestic violence.
The violence can't really be that serious.
Domestic violence includes not just the act of physical violence but also threats, sexual violence, isolation and intimidation. Additionally, your friend or family member may be minimizing the level of violence that she is experiencing because she feels ashamed or is afraid of your or her partner's reaction.
If it were really bad, she would just leave.
For most of us, a decision to leave a relationship is not easy. Leaving a violent relationship is even harder. A survivor of domestic violence will often face severe economic hardship upon leaving the relationship. She may not know about services available to her, or she may have had negative experiences with those services. Her partner may have threatened more serious violence if she tries to leave. Barriers erected by the batterer and, unfortunately, by our society, make the decision to leave safely difficult for domestic violence survivors.
I know him - I don't think that he could hurt anyone.
Many batterers are not violent in other relationships and can be charming in social situations, yet may be very violent in the privacy of their home. Batterers can be savvy at disguising their violent behaviors by deflecting blame on their victims. "She pushed my buttons," "It just got out of hand that one time," and "She is lying, you know I wouldn't hurt a fly" are common justifications that batterers use.
If she wanted my help, she would ask for it.
Your friend or family member may not want to confide in you, feeling that you may not understand her situation or you will judge her. She may even feel ashamed of what is happening. Talk with her about abuse in a general way. Tell her you're concerned about women who are abused and that you do not blame women for the violence that they may be experiencing.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
As a friend or family member you may be an important part of a woman's safety. It is important for women to know that help is available. Here are a few tips to helping your friend or family member:
Listen without judgment.
Tell your friend that you care and are willing to listen. Believe her and never blame her for the violence that she is experiencing. Let her know that she does not deserve to be abused.
Allow her to make her own decisions.
As you listen, try to understand the many barriers that she may be experiencing in attempting to keep herself safe. Focus on supporting her in making her own decisions. Even if she leaves and then goes back, don't withdraw your support. Many battered women leave several times before leaving for good. Your support during each of her attempts to leave may be critical.
Direct her to your local domestic violence service provider.
Your local domestic violence program will be able to offer her valuable resources and support. She could seek shelter, a support group, individual advocacy, or even court advocacy if needed.
Be a part of her overall safety plan.
While it may not be safe for her to stay with you and your family because the batterer knows where you live, you can still be an essential link in her safety planning. Talk with her about how you can help, whether that is by keeping some of her personal possessions, calling for help when she needs it, financial assistance, or just continued emotional support. Knowing that she can count on you will help break the isolation that she has been experiencing as a result of the domestic violence, thereby creating some safety in her life.
This article is adapted from "Helping the Battered Woman, A Guide for Family and Friends," National Woman Abuse Prevention Project. It can be found at www.praxisinternational.org
Governor Sebelius Appoints Nine Individuals to Kansas Advisory Group of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
In an effort to strengthen Kansas' juvenile justice system, Governor Sebelius has announced her appointment of nine Kansans to the Kansas Advisory Group of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Marilynn Ault, Topeka, is the Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) Project Coordinator with the Kansas Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence (KCSDV). From 1988 to 2002, she was Program Director of YWCA Battered Women Task Force in Topeka.
Juanita Carlson, Lawrence, has been in private legal practice since 1991 with involvement on the Douglas County Juvenile Panel. She has an emphasis in divorces, child support, and wills. She has been a member of the Douglas Co. Indigents' Panel and the Felony Indigents' Panel.
Melody Miller, Wichita, is the owner of Miller's Bar-B-Que. For four years, she was a member of the Sedgwick Co. Board of Commissioners as the 4th District County Commissioner. From 1988-1993, she was a secondary educator in the Wichita Public Schools.
George Gomez, Lenexa, is a Staff Attorney with the American Family Insurance Company. From 1988-1992, he served in the Kansas House of Representatives as a Representative for the 57th District. He served for five years in Shawnee County Juvenile District Court as Guardian ad Litem representing children and teenagers.
Sarah Mays, Topeka, is the Assistant Director of Domestic and Juvenile Services for the Third Judicial District Court Services. She is a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker and Certified and Approved Mediator. She is a member of the Families First Advisory Board, Safe Visits Advisory Board and Shawnee County Multidisciplinary Child Protection Team.
Jerry Mershon, Manhattan, is a retired District Court Judge for the Twenty-First Judicial District. He is a Life Member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. He is a member of the ABA Juvenile and Family Law Committee and was a member of the Board of Fellows of the National Center for Juvenile Justice.
Ken Moore, Hutchinson, is the Community Coordinator for the University of Washington's Social Development Research Group and the Regional Prevention Center of South Central Kansas. He has practiced and taught criminal justice for over thirty years. He is also a Minister at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Haven, KS.
Melody Pappan, Dexter, is the Administrator and Administrative Contact for the 19th Judicial District at Cowley County Youth Services in Winfield. From 2000-2003, she was the Juvenile Justice Authority Case Manager at Cowley County Youth Services. Prior to 2000, she worked as a Deputy Sheriff for the Cowley County Sheriff's Department.
Miller was appointed to the board to fill an unexpired term ending 06/30/06. All of the other appointees will serve a four-year term ending 06/30/07. The Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention participates in the development and review of the juvenile justice plan; reviews, comments, and makes recommendations on all juvenile justice grant applications.
"STOP FAMILY VIOLENCE" Postage Stamp to be Issued
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Postal Service will issue a new fundraising stamp supporting the national fight against domestic violence in November of this year.
The price of the self-adhesive, non-denominated stamp will be 45 cents. As a semipostal, it is valid for postage at the First-Class first-ounce letter rate in effect at the time of purchase, with the difference between the sales price of the stamp and the underlying postage consisting of a tax-deductible contribution.
Funds raised in connection with sales of the stamp, net of the Postal Service's reasonable costs, will be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services in accordance with the provisions of the Stamp Out Domestic Violence Act of 2001, which was passed in 2001.
"The Stop Family Violence semipostal will allow every American to contribute to a nationwide fight against domestic violence," said Donna Peak, Vice President, Finance, Controller, for the Postal Service, who unveiled the stamp. "By using this stamp on their cards and letters, our customers will also have an opportunity to bring before the public eye a problem that is too often ignored."
For the Stop Family Violence semipostal, art director Carl T. Herrman selected artwork by a young girl that expresses the pain and sadness caused by domestic violence. Her work was photographed by Philip Channing, a photographer based in California. To see the design, visit the Postal Service web site and open the online version of this press release at: www.usps.com/communications/news/stamps/welcome.htm.
The Breast Cancer Research and Heroes of 2001 semipostals were the first two semipostals issued in the U.S. Both are available at post offices, by toll-free phone order at: 1-800-STAMP-24 and online at the Postal Store at www.usps.com/shop
Calendar - KCSDV Sponsored Trainings
Skill Enhancement Training
Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Assault
- Member Program Advocates Only
October 15, 2003 - Hutchinson
Regional In-Service Trainings
- Member Program Advocates Only
November 4, 2003 - Hays
November 5, 2003 - Newton
November 7, 2003 - Manhattan
Sexual Assault Advocacy Training
- Advocates & Allies
November 17-21, 2003 - Kansas City, Kansas
Skill Enhancement Training
Confidentiality when Working with Survivors
Presented by Julie Field
- Member Program Advocates Only
Dec. 12 - Wichita
For further information and registration for KCSDV and other trainings, visit our Trainings page.
This newsletter and KCSDV brochures are available online at: www.kcsdv.org/resources/newsletters.html
Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. The safest way to find information on the internet is to use a computer at a local library, a friend's house, an Internet Cafe or at work. For more information about internet and communication technology safety, go to: www.kcsdv.org/safetynews.html
This newsletter is published quarterly, hard copy and online, JAN, APRIL, JULY, and OCT. Deadlines for calendar and article submissions are DEC 1, MAR 1, JUNE 1, and SEPT 1. Submissions will be reviewed for content and space availability.
Please send submissions to:
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