“I met with some people while I was home dealing with domestic abuse. It has gotten out of hand,” Senator Reid reportedly said on the Senate floor. “Why? Men don’t have jobs…. Men, when they’re out of work, tend to become abusive.While men's rights groups are calling for an apology, DV advocacy groups are clarifying, hoping those who heard Senator Reid's comments won't mistakenly think that joblessness causes domestic violence. Though it isn't a causal relationship, joblessness and family violence are linked.
Even though women are losing jobs as well, “women aren't abusive, most of the time,” Reid added. "Men, when they're out of work, tend to become abusive.”
While the study refrains from drawing comprehensive conclusions about all men, unemployment is definitely a significant risk factor – along with poverty and a low level of educational attainment – an extensive 2004 report by the National Institute of Justice found. The report found that the rate of violence against women increases as male unemployment increases. When a woman's male partner is employed, the rate of violence is 4.7 percent. It’s 7.5 percent when the male experiences one period of unemployment. It’s 12.3 percent when the male experiences two or more periods of unemployment.Another reason why joblessness could contribute to a rise in domestic violence is the batterer's lost sense of control. If he has lost his job and is worried about his finances, he may be feeling out of control in many areas of his life. For some men, that loss of control is very threatening, and they may seek to exert more control where they can. This is often over their family or their romantic partner. Those controlling behaviors often lead to physical and emotional violence. Never forget - domestic violence isn't about a loss of temper, it isn't about revenge, and it isn't about poverty. Domestic violence is all about power and control
Women who lose their jobs are also more at risk for abuse. A lack of money is a common reason why a female victim may refuse to leave an abusive partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
And James Fox, criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, says that when men lose their jobs, they lose self esteem and money – but also emotional support.
“Females are more likely to have friends outside work, whereas men tend to have friendships on the job,” says Professor Fox. “Men rarely have friends outside work connections, and when they lose their job, they lose all the people that were around them. They feel abandoned.”
The Boston Globe reported in December 2008 that “domestic violence programs report that victims experience an increase in abuse in part because out-of-work abusers have more opportunity to batter.”