If newly proposed legislation in New York City gets passed, victims of domestic violence could be given paid leave to recover from the abuse without the worry of losing their jobs. The legislation — introduced on Wednesday by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland — would allow time and provide services for survivors of domestic violence to heal from the abuse by providing paid "safe leave." It would be used, for example, if they decide they need time away from work to seek medical help or if they need attend counseling or court appearances.
"No woman should have to decide between her safety and her paycheck," de Blasio said at a press conference announcing the legislation, according to The Huffington Post. "We need to make sure that work will be protected, not interrupted; that pay will be protected, not interrupted while a woman pursues justice ― while she takes care of things she needs to ensure her safety."
The proposed legislation would add domestic violence to the existing paid sick leave laws in New York City. Under the existing laws, some employers are required to give their workers up to five paid days off each year for personal illness or family care. Adding victims of domestic violence would fall into the same category.
This legislation would drastically benefit domestic violence victims in New York City, as de Blasio said that on average the New York Police Department reports to a domestic violence call once every two minutes.
"That is an unacceptable state of affairs in the greatest city in the world, and we aim to change it." de Blasio said on Wednesday.
As The Huffington Post reported, there are currently only five states ― California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Vermont ― and Washington, D.C., that have already enforced this type of legislation.
Of course, those five days won't be enough time to fully heal from the trauma and there isn't a defined time frame for that, but the paid time off would be able to provide victims with a sense of reassurance while they take care of themselves and their families.
This is crucial because the effects of domestic violence can be both overwhelming and extensive. Some victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and disassociation even long after the violence ends.
Here's how The Joyful Heart Foundation described the long-term impact domestic violence can have on someone:
Abuse can have a serious impact on the way a person thinks and interacts with the world around them. The chronic exposure to domestic violence — and the stress fear resulting from this exposure — can cause not only immediate physical injury, but also mental shifts that occur as the mind attempts to process trauma or protect the body. Domestic violence affects one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors and can significantly impact one’s mental stability. Increased anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms are commonly observed among survivors of domestic violence.
"Leave is one of the most common things and most important things that survivors frequently need," Maya Raghu told ThinkProgress, who is a senior attorney with the anti-domestic violence organization Futures Without Violence. "There’s this very long list of things you have to take care of and deal with, and a lot of those necessitate time off from work."
While the many are aware of the emotional and physical effects that harm victims of domestic violence — many of whom are women with kids — abuse can also take a drastic toll on a person's financial and job security. And this legislation will be able to make these situations a bit easier to cope with and to eventually overcome.