Income Inequality and Domestic Violence

April 10, 2018 is Equal Pay Day, a symbolic day to show support for women in the workforce and draw attention to the existing gender pay gap. It also signifies how far into the new calendar year women have to work to earn what men made the previous year. Dovie Yoana King, director of SOAR for Justice, explains how income inequality relates to domestic violence and negatively impacts women of color.


It is well known that women on average earn about 80% of what men earn. Fewer people, however, realize that there is a correlation between income inequality and domestic violence. Typically, financial abuse is a leading reason that victims feel trapped in abusive relationships. This is reflected by one study that demonstrated a decline in domestic violence rates when there was a decline in the gender wage gap. In other words, the ability for a woman to attain economic stability will place her in a better position to leave her abuser and find safety.

Further, workplace abuse is a lesser known form of domestic violence that cheats women of their financial independence. This happens when a perpetrator of domestic violence exerts power, control and dominance over a victim’s financial well-being by impacting her workplace. Victims of domestic violence may experience a decline in work performance and attendance rates due to acts of violence. It is not uncommon, for example, for a victim to call-in sick last minute, causing an employer to question her value as an employee when this happens regularly. Moreover, abusers will leverage parental duties against their victims by purposefully bailing as a caretaker and causing victims to prioritize parenting over work. Up to 60% of domestic violence victims eventually lose their jobs as a result of the abuse.

Domestic violence survivors who are women of color face an additional set of dire circumstances. Latinas, in particular, earn as little as 54% of what men earn while African-American women earn 63% as compared with men. Women of color additionally experience greater difficulty securing and/or maintaining affordable housing, as well as have difficulty getting a job, compounding the problem of income inequality. Not having the same access to housing and employment places women of color in stagnant oppression.

In sum, equal pay is more than just economic equality. For survivors of domestic violence, it is a giant step towards freedom from violence. For more information about domestic violence in the workplace, please read see Domestic Violence and the Battle to Control a Woman’s Economic Power


Dovie Yoana King is a public interest attorney with two decades of experience assisting low-income immigrants, women and children. She is a survivor of domestic violence, facing financial abuse and workplace abuse for years.

Click this text to start editing. This block is a basic combination of a title and a paragraph. Use it to welcome visitors to your website, or explain a product or service without using an image. Try keeping the paragraph short and breaking off the text-only areas of your page to keep your website interesting to visitors.