The Status of Black Women in the United States


In collaboration with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a new comprehensive report as a part of the longstanding report series, The Status of Women in the States. This 192 page report describes the experiences of millions of Black women across the United States, including key findings and recommendations related to political participation, employment and earnings, work and family, poverty and opportunity, health and well-being, and violence and safety.


Findings from this report emphasize the importance of understanding the complex challenges faced by Black women who experience violence and abuse, as well as the enduring contributions Black women make to the productivity, wealth, and success of the nation.


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Download the executive summary and the full report.


Paid Sick and Safe Days


Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking often need time off from work to seek medical care, obtain a protection order, and find shelter or safe housing to protect themselves and their children from harm. Once safe from immediate threats, survivors may need additional time off to work with victim advocates or participate in the justice system. Analysis of data from the National Violence Against Women Survey found that victims of intimate partner violence who were stalked lost an average of 10.1 days of paid work per year, those who were raped lost an average of 8.1 days per year, and those who experienced physical violence lost 7.2 days per year. Taking time off is often necessary to achieve safety, yet it can have a significant impact on survivors’ economic security. Paid sick and safe laws allow survivors to seek critical services when needed without having to jeopardize their ability to pay bills or their employment.


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Highlighting Program & Policy Innovations: The Independence Project


Economic abuse is a common obstacle to seeking safety for survivors of domestic violence and has long been used by abusers to gain power and control and to create dependency. Tactics of economic abuse may include destruction of property, interruption of work and/or school, coercion into crime, and fraud or identity theft, all of which can have immediate and lasting consequences on survivors’ economic security and ability to stay safe. Protecting and restoring survivors’ economic security can help present a pathway to long-term independence and safety.


>>Read more about The Independence Project in the full newsletter


Federal Policy Update

On June 15, the Senate passed the Providing Resources, Officers, and Technology to Eradicate Cyber Threats to Our Children Act of 2017.


On August 1, the Senate approved by unanimous consent the Rapid DNA Act (H.R.510), which requires the FBI to reduce the current DNA backlog, and passed the POWER Act, which directs each U.S. Attorney to lead at least one public event promoting pro bono legal services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.


The Senate also passed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act, S. 860, on August 1. In addition to reauthorizing funding for juvenile justice programs, the bill requires states to “address the needs of girls in or at risk of entering the juvenile justice system, including pregnant girls, young mothers, survivors of commercial sexual exploitation or domestic child sex trafficking, girls with disabilities, and girls of color” and to provide alternative facilities for juveniles forced to engage in commercial sex acts.


Federal Action on Human Trafficking


On June 12, the House passed H.R.2200, the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017; H.R.2480, the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act; and H.R.2664, the Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act.


On June 29, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (S. 1312) to provide technical assistance to help child sex trafficking victims, and the Abolish Human Trafficking Act (S.1311) to require restitution for victims of commercial sexual exploitation.


On August 2, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act (S.1532) to ban human trafficking felons from working commercial vehicles, and the Combatting Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act (S.1536) to improve prevention efforts under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.


State Policy Update


California: The Assembly is currently considering two bills: A.B.168, which would prohibit employers from seeking salary history information about an applicant, and A.B.1209, which would require large employers to publicly share the median earnings by gender of salaried employees and board members. Gov. Brown signed S.B.204 on July 21, authorizing law enforcement to enforce Canadian domestic violence protection orders, and A.B.331 on August 7, allowing campus-based domestic violence counselors to keep their communications with survivors confidential.


Colorado: The No Bail for Stalking and Domestic Violence Offenders Act went into effect on August 9, amending the list of offenses that automatically result in no bail to include certain forms of stalking and domestic violence.


Massachusetts: The legislature’s FY2018 budget expands Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) access to domestic violence survivors residing in the state by allowing them to maintain eligibility regardless of filing status.


New Jersey: A.B.4927, passed by the legislature and then conditionally vetoed, would expand paid family leave, including access for car following domestic violence. Christie also vetoed A.B.3480, which would have banned employers from inquiring about worker’s wage and salary histories. Gov. Christie signed A.B.1199 on August 7, allowing victims and witnesses in domestic violence and sexual assault cases to testify by closed circuit television in certain circumstances.


Texas: Under recently signed H.B.214, most standard, private insurance plans are prohibited from covering abortions, including cases of rape and incest, and the mother is required to pay an additional premium to obtain coverage.


Washington: Governor Inslee signed the Washington Family Leave Act on July 5, providing eligible employees up to twelve weeks of paid, job-protected leave for qualifying family or medical reasons, or up to sixteen weeks of combined family and medical leave (with an additional two weeks available to mothers who experience pregnancy-related complications). Benefits go into effect January 1, 2020.


Recent IWPR News & Resources


IWPR in the News


ESS Project’s analysis of the economic cost of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking was cited by Michelle Chen in the Nation:



New Research and Resources






The ESS Project also has its own webinar playlist on IWPR’s YouTube page.


About the ESS Project


The ESS Project seeks to build, protect, and restore the economic security of survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking so that they may be safe and free of abuse. We provide community and justice system professionals with strategies, tools, and training to improve how policies and programs respond to the economic consequences of abuse and survivors’ economic security.


Contact the ESS Team:


Sarah Gonzalez Bocinski


Project Director,


Malore Dusenbery


Project Associate Director,


Alona Del Rosario


Project Associate,


This project was supported by Grant No. 2014-TA-AX-K433 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.