Victims of domestic violence often make several attempts to leave an abusive partner and are forced to return for economic reasons. Economic self-sufficiency is frequently the difference between violence and safety for many victims. Domestic violence advocates must be prepared to address many of the economic issues that victims face, and facilitate opportunities for victims to learn how they can improve their economic situation. Issues such as budgeting, identity theft, banking, predatory lending, violence in the workplace, housing, and credit, all play a role in ending domestic violence.
NCADV is addressing economic issues through our financial education project. In 2001 we collaborated with the National Endowment for Financial Education and developed financial education materials called, Hope & Power for Your Personal Finances: A Rebuilding Guide Following Domestic Violence, in an ongoing effort to support victims of domestic violence in their endeavors to achieve economic self-sufficiency. In addition to the materials, NCADV provides training and technical assistance to domestic violence programs and other community organizations who wish to address economic issues with victims of domestic violence.
Financial education involves knowing and understanding the often complex principles of earning, spending, saving and investing. It is vital for everyone, and commonly, compared with middle class and higher income Americans, low-income persons save much lower portions of their incomes and accumulate fewer assets. Research shows that individuals who participate in financial education programs are more likely to save money, realize they have access to certain programs, understand consumer credit and establish a budget. Financial education gives individuals personal control over money and other financial resources. Building financial skills allows individuals to gain confidence in their abilities to make informed, responsible financial decisions.
Financial education includes:
For victims of domestic violence, efforts to obtain financial education are often hindered by abusive partners. For victims in all socioeconomic brackets, financial education is essential to breaking the cycle of violence. Financial matters become infinitely more complicated when compounded with the need to protect oneself from an abusive partner.
The following are some examples of how the road to financial freedom is extremely difficult for victims of domestic violence:
The Participant Workbook, Hope & Power for Your Personal Finances: A Rebuilding Guide Following Domestic Violence, was created by NCADV, the National Endowment for Financial Education, and Intuit. It is written to help battered women regain control of their financial lives and begin to build a better future for themselves and their children. It is designed for women who have left an abusive relationship and for those who are still in the relationship and are considering their options. Single copies of the workbook are available to battered women at no cost. Organizations may also request a single copy to review or order multiple copies at a nominal fee.
Download your free copy(ies) via this link:
Hope and Power for your Personal Finances (English)
Hope and Power for your Personal Finances (Spanish)
*Please note: these materials may take several minutes to download because of their size. You will need a PDF reader to open them. If you do not have one already, download the free Adobe Reader here.
National Endowment for Financial Education: www.nefe.org.
NEFE is a foundation that partners for the financial well-being of the public. They are dedicated to helping all Americans acquire the information and gain the skills necessary to take control of their personal finances. NEFE partners with other concerned organizations to provide financial education to members of the public, in particular, to underserved individuals whose financial education issues are not being addressed by others. To access NEFE’s financial education clearinghouse, click on Multimedia Access and then on the financial education clearinghouse at the top of the page.
Financial Resources for Women and Children: www.frwc.net
FRWC provides very basic money management information on its web site. It also partners with women’s shelters and support groups to provide money management instruction, mentoring, and small loans to qualified participants.
Women’s Institute for Financial Education: www.wife.org.
The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO): www.microenterpriseworks.org.
The national membership organization for the microenterprise development field, AEO, works to assist underserved entrepreneurs to start, stabilize and expand businesses. AEO does this by supporting a network of non-profit microenterprise development programs around the country. These programs provide training, technical assistance and financing to help people start and grow businesses. This can be a valuable income generation path for domestic violence survivors. To find a potential partner program near you, go to AEO’s website and look on the home page for the category “Member organizations near you”. You will be able to search by state for program contact information.
Your Money Matters: Tax Information for Survivors of Domestic Abuse: www.irs.gov (search for publication #3865)
Social Security Administration’s Website for Women: www.ssa.gov/women/
The Wise-Up Curriculum: www.wiseupwomen.org.
Created by the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, Wise-Up targets generation X women, by providing an online financial education curriculum.