Ensuring Domestic Violence Survivors’ Safety – Center for American Progress

Survivors need access to comprehensive paid leave and affordable child care

The widespread lack of access to different forms of paid leave means that many survivors may face a choice between their health and their paychecks. Without access to paid sick leave—which can include paid safe days for purposes related to sexual or domestic violence—or paid family and medical leave, survivors may be forced to take unpaid time off to care for themselves, a loved one, or even an abuser, if they contract COVID-19.37 And survivors without access to paid safe days may be forced to utilize other types of paid leave—or lose out on a paycheck if paid leave is unavailable—to seek essential services, recover from injuries sustained by abuse, or find safety. This year, Colorado and New York state joined 10 other states, Washington, D.C., and many localities by mandating that employers of a certain size provide their employees with paid sick leave, which survivors can use to seek services related to gender-based violence.38 In a related move, Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) issued an executive order extending temporary disability payments to workers at DV shelters who are exposed to COVID-19, signaling an effort to better value the essential role of DV shelter workers in helping survivors during and beyond the current pandemic.39

The current crisis has also exacerbated the lack of quality affordable child care in the United States, meaning parents, and in this case survivors, may forego paid work in order to care for children whose schools and child care centers are closed during this crisis. For survivors, this means potentially increasing children’s exposure to unsafe environments where they may witness or experience violence firsthand.40

In addition, rampant job loss has resulted in a loss of employer-sponsored health insurance, which cuts off many people’s access to critical health services. Without access to their employer-sponsored health insurance plans, workers, including those who are also survivors, might be forced to forego a myriad of medical services, including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive supplies, services to prevent unintended pregnancies, and abortion services.

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