Slumping Economy Contributes to Rise in Family Violence

As more and more couples in crisis try to stick it out, domestic violence is increasing, experts say.

Women's shelters, psychologists and attorneys say the tough economy is the blame for the rise. Victims feel trapped, said John Polk, a family law attorney.

"It certainly does create a volatile situation when you have two people who don't want to be together living in the same household," he said.

Victims say stress can trigger violence in abusers, and there is nothing more stressful then losing your job.

Catherine Smit, a former police chief and victim of domestic violence, said money worries kept her from leaving her abusive husband. She didn't think she could support herself and her three children, she said.

"You just don't think you can every survive, so you stay in that comfort zone, because food on the table is more important then the bruises or the fear that you live in," she said.

Smit said she and her husband owned a business. When it failed "miserably," it knocked her spouse "off the deep end," she said.

But she said victims of abuse always have places to go, even if it's a shelter. They might save money by sticking it out at home, but it could cost them their lives.

"We hear too many stories about someone dying because they are afraid to leave," Smit said.

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