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Highlighting Financial Abuse this Financial Literacy Month

April 3, 2017

This April, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) recognizes Financial Literacy Month and the role that finances often play in domestic abuse. For over a decade, NNEDV’s Economic Justice project has been working to address and prevent financial abuse, which occurs in 99 percent of domestic violence cases. [1]

Last month, we hosted our inaugural Economic Justice Summit: Navigating Economic Justice: Dollars, Sen$e and Safety, which provided domestic violence advocates with financial empowerment tools and networking opportunities.

What is Financial Abuse?

Like other forms of abuse, financial abuse is about power and control. Whether an abuser prevents a victim from getting a job, controls how money is spent, engages in identity theft, or countless other tactics, this form of abuse is meant to keep victims isolated, vulnerable, and dependent. Through financial abuse, abusers deliberately leave survivors without the knowledge, access, or resources to manage their own finances. Financial barriers can therefore present a major obstacle for victims attempting to leave their abuser.

“Women are often forced to choose between being abused and being homeless,” said Kim Pentico, Economic Justice Director at NNEDV.

Tools to Combat Financial Abuse

Whether or not a victim decides to leave, finances are a critical part of safety planning. In partnership with the Allstate Foundation, we developed The Moving Ahead Curriculum to help survivors moving from short-term safety planning toward long-term security. The lessons include tips for recognizing financial abuse, basic credit information, and budgeting strategies.

Since damaging a victim’s credit score is a common tactic used by abusers, we launched the Independence Project in partnership with Verizon and with seed funding from Thirty-One Gifts. This project is designed to help survivors rebuild their credit through micro-lending. Survivors apply to receive a $100 micro-loan, which they can repay over a 10-month period with no interest or fees. In the long-term, these micro-loan repayments will help survivors increase their credit scores and slowly rebuild their financial security.

We also provide financial education and economic justice information and resources, along with webinars and trainings. Financial abuse is less commonly understood than other forms of abuse, and it is a powerful method used by abusers to trap victims in relationships. As a result of financial abuse, survivors are often left with crushing debt and ruined credit that takes years to repair. Financial literacy is a tool for survivors to regain their independence and security.

Learn More

[1] Adams, A. E., Sullivan, C. M., Bybee, D., & Greeson, M. R. (2008). Development of the Scale of Economic Abuse. Violence Against Women, 14(5), 563