Economic empowerment key to domestic violence survivors’ success
by Adam Murphy, Lake Barkley Insurance
May 07, 2014 | 111 111 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Economic abuse is as pervasive as scars and bruises can be in domestic violence relationships. Too often, victims must choose between staying with an abuser or facing economic hardship. Survivors who escape violence may leave with very little: no job, no car, a damaged credit history, or no credit history at all.

For this reason, I recently led a financial education workshop for survivors of domestic violence in Cadiz with help from Sanctuary, Inc. domestic violence shelter. Participants learned about budgeting and safety planning with money. I was eager to take an opportunity to serve my community with support from Allstate. The Allstate Foundation partnered with The National Network to End Domestic Violence in 2005 to create Moving Ahead Through Financial Management, a financial empowerment curriculum designed specifically for survivors of violence. Advocates at Sanctuary, Inc. are using the curriculum to help survivors become economically self-sufficient.

The Allstate Foundation has also supported economic empowerment services at Sanctuary by funding a matched-savings program and a credit-building micro-loan program.

At Sanctuary, survivors work step-by-step on a sometimes long and difficult road to healing and self-sufficiency. The program’s services include emergency shelter, individual and group counseling, working with children who have witnessed violence, and helping survivors to achieve economic empowerment.

The core of the economic empowerment services is Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). Survivors’ savings are matched 4:1 if they choose to save for a first home, post-secondary education, or to start a small business. Survivors’ savings are matched 1:1 if they choose to save for a car.

While they are saving, participants are encouraged to use microloans to help them build their credit scores. Payments on these no-interest loans are reported to credit bureaus, and many survivors have increased their credit scores substantially.

All of these services have been made possible with support from the Allstate Foundation, which has recognized the innovative strategies used by advocates at Sanctuary.

I am honored to represent a company committed to reducing the barriers faced by victims of domestic violence. I’m also honored to live in a place that has resources like Sanctuary, which is making our community a better, safer place to live.

This column was submitted by Katie French of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association.
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