By Victor Ochieng
There is evidence that domestic violence victims can turn their lives around for the better if they became financially literate. Sadly, though, a study report released by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) says domestic violence programs that instill financial literacy in victims lack adequate resources for their activities.
Although domestic disagreements stem from different sources, financial abuse is often used to silence victims or keep them bound. This is where the abuser employs tactics such as withholding financial support, messing up the victim’s credit status, or compromising their performance at work so that they remain dependent.
This is why financial empowerment mentoring remains core to helping domestic violence victims in charting their ways to being independent financial individuals.
The NNEDV report revealed that over 11% of local domestic violence initiatives increased their financial literacy activities, with more than 73% of all programs offering financial literacy year round.
There are 22 local programs that provide domestic victims with financial literacy mentoring as well as services such as savings and microloans to help them access small funds to get them started in their new lives. The given loans are repaid and then redistributed to other survivors in similar needs.
Unfortunately, the demands continue to rise yet funding and staffing either reduce or remain relatively constant. Of all the 1,752 programs surveyed in the study, lack of resources forced 35 programs to cut or completely do away with financial literacy programs. Close to 400 of the local programs reported that victim request for financial support was mainly unmet due to lack of funds. Of the interviewed programs, 79% of staff positions across the U.S. were removed.
“Financial abuse is debilitating for many survivors of domestic violence. Financial education and credit building services are vital to ensuring that survivors are empowered to lead lives free of abuse,” said Kim Gandy, NNEDV president and CEO.
“Today, far too many victims who need financial help to rebuild their lives are turned away. We need to ensure that domestic violence programs have resources to provide these critical services,” says Vicky Dinges, Allstate senior vice president, corporate responsibility.
Close to a decade ago, The National Network to End Domestic Violence and the Allstate Foundation developed a program called “Moving Ahead Through Financial Management.” Over 800,000 of domestic violence victims have gone through the program. The program helps domestic violence victims identify which financial abuse patterns they belong to before charting a way to recovery. They’re provided with financial skills training that covers budgeting, saving, and credit repair.