[Financial Literacy Month] Domestic Violence Victims Struggle to Get Financially Literate

Despite a large body of evidence showing that financial education helps victims of domestic violence reclaim their independence, a study by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) finds that domestic violence programs are struggling to get the resources they need in order to provide services to victims in need.

Financial abuse —  a practice in which perpetrators control their victim by using tactics like withholding access to money, destroying their credit, or hurting their job performance— is prevalent in nearly all cases of domestic violence, and financial empowerment mentoring is becoming a core service for many local domestic violence programs.

  • More than 190 of the surveyed local domestic violence programs (11%) have expanded their financial literacy programming in the past year.
  •  More than 73% of surveyed domestic violence programs offer financial services year-round.
  •  22 local programs offered matched savings programs or microloans. Microloans help survivors gain access to resources needed to build or improve credit, purchase used cars to get to jobs, or pay for college or job training expenses. The loans are paid back over time and redistributed, so other survivors can benefit from this financial tool.

However, as demand continues for these life-changing services, staff and funding cuts make it difficult for domestic violence programs to provide the help survivors need. Out of 1,752 local domestic violence programs surveyed:

  • 35 local programs were forced to reduce or completely eliminate financial education programs due to lack of resources.
  • 79% of staff positions across the U.S. were eliminated in the past year. 752 local domestic violence programs surveyed:
  • Nearly 400 local programs reported that requests for financial assistance were one of the primary areas of unmet need due to lack of resources.

“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, senior vice president, corporate responsibility, at Allstate.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence and the Allstate Foundation created a curriculum about a decade ago called “Moving Ahead Through Financial Management.” More than 800,000 victims from all income levels have gone through the program.

The curriculum, and the recovery process, begin by helping domestic violence and financial abuse victims identify if they are in one of these destructive financial abuse patterns.

In addition, the curriculum provides financial education and skills to victims of financial and domestic violence by teaching them financial basics such as credit repair, budgeting, and saving.