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A new survey by the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) has found that police departments across the country are encountering more instances of domestic violence related to the poor economy, USA Today reports.

More than half of the 700 law enforcement agencies polled for the survey reported seeing a rise in “domestic conflicts” related to the economy during 2011, according to USA Today. That’s a sharp increase from the numbers reported in a similar 2010 survey, when 40 percent of agencies reported seeing an increase in such cases.

Scott Thompson, the Chief of Police in Camden, N.J., spoke to the paper about the survey results and said that his city saw a 20 percent increase in domestic incidents and a 10 percent increase in domestic-related aggravated assaults from 2010 to 2011. Thompson noted that the unemployment rate in the city is currently 19 percent.

“When stresses in the home increase because of unemployment and other hardships, domestic violence increases,” Thomson told the paper. “We see it on the street.”

In turn, the poor economy has reduced the amount of resources available to victims of domestic violence, according to a recent survey conducted by the Mary Kay Foundation. In a poll of 730 domestic violence shelters across the country, nearly 80 percent reported seeing an increase in women seeking abuse at the same time funding for prevention and assistance programs had decreased.

Nearly three in every four domestic violence victims reported staying in an abusive relationship because they could not afford to leave, according the survey.

Rebecca White, president and CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center, said staffers have seen a sharp rise in calls from victims of domestic violence and that many say economic woes have factored into their situations.
“When there is less economic opportunity in the community, it keeps that victim tethered basically to their abusers for financial dependence,” White told KPRC Houston.

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