Help End Domestic Violence- with Basic Income

First, I’d like you all to go view this TED talk from Leslie Morgan Steiner on Domestic Violence- especially pay attention to some of the statistics- 1 in 3 American women are abused. 70% of domestic violence murders happen after she’s ended the relationship. 85% of domestic abusers are men.

Financial control and dependency is one of the key chains that domestic abusers use to keep their victims enchained. EIther by denying their victim access to employment, or controlling any finances that come into the home, and cdictating when and how their victims can spend money. They put time and effort into making sure their victims don’t have access to a vital component of independence- money.

How is a victim supposed to “just leave”, if she can’t pay for a place to stay? If she can’t buy food? If she can’t get a train ticket out of town? Abuser isolate their victims emotionally, as well, so “Can I borrow a few hundred dollars so I can get out?” “Can I sleep on your couch?” isn’t something they even know they can ask, let alone still have a social circle they would feel safe asking. It’s worse if there are children involved- she might be willing to go homeless for a week, a month, more for herself, but she won’t be able to do that to her kids, she’s more likely to endure more abuse, deflecting it away from her kids, so they they have a roof over their heads.

And yes, we have a ‘welfare’ system, but that takes time and resources to access, and is very often a demeaning, grueling process; you can’t just walk in and say “Hi, my husband beat me, can you please help me completely rebuild my life? I need food and shelter now and I’ll need a job and a new bank account and possibly relocated to another city so he doesn’t murder me.”

Basic Income is one of the social changes we can make to help prevent and reduce domestic violence.  Because a basic income is tied to YOU, as an individual human being. It’s not based on your income (actual or potential), it’s not tied to proving you’re ‘needy enough’, it’s not tied to your address or your household size or number of dependents. It’s about YOU.

This means that, even if someone’s monthly basic income payment has been deposited into a bank account that an abuser has control over- the victim can still leave, because that money would follow her– not the household.  Because UBI is administered by a single agency, instead of being all over the place, redirecting the payments could be as easy as a phone call. It could be set up so that domestic violence shelters and support services could help facilitate that transition, so that someone who’s dealing with having just left abuse doesn’t have to juggle that, too.

Housing becomes easier to get- because there’s a guaranteed income. Food becomes easier. New clothes. New job. New transportation. All these things we, as people who live with roofs over our head, and food in our bellies, and a car to get to and from our jobs, completely take for granted. Things that, when you are fleeing abuse, might cease to exist. Most people escaping abuse don’t pack All The Things,  they escape with the bare minimums.

Knowing you have a guaranteed income- no matter where you are- that no one else can control, is a first step to freedom.