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Issue Briefs: Victims of Domestic Violence Homicide Accessing Public Benefits

Financial stability is fundamental to safety and well-being. Domestic violence interferes with survivors’ ability to maintain education and employment, making access to economic benefits critical. Because so many survivors access Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS) programs, Washington State’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review (DVFR) has identified this as an important opportunity to provide information and connection to victim advocacy.

Analysis of 421 domestic violence homicides in Washington State over 15 years showed that nearly half of victims had received some form of public benefits before their death, but very few had disclosed domestic violence to case workers. Given the prevalence of domestic violence and the many barriers to disclosing abuse, case workers cannot rely solely on screening and disclosure to identify clients who need access to victim resources. Instead, universal education and no-barrier access to support would provide many more survivors with the information and resources they need.