A recent study by Rutgers University proved, yet again, that financial literacy is key to economic stability and quality of life – particularly a violence-free life. Victims of domestic violence experience not only physical and sexual abuse. Many victims experience financial abuse – controlling the victim’s money, disrupting employment, destroying credit, and stealing from bank accounts.
Nearly 500 survivors of domestic violence participated in a financial literacy curriculum, and demonstrated between 40 and 103% improvement in their financial behaviors after completion. They reported a 10% increase in their personal “quality of life,” in addition to less financial strain, anxiety, and hardship. Other significant statistics from the study include:
- 86% knew how to set financial goals
- 90% knew how to create a budget (with a 31% increase in ability to follow a weekly budget)
- 72% understood how to improve their credit ratings (compared to 20% in the pre-survey)
- 71% knew how to invest in savings including bonds, stocks, and mutual funds (compared with 17% in the pre-survey)
- There was a nearly 20% increase in the number of participants using a bank account
Researchers wanted to understand the effectiveness of financial education and were testing new curriculum developed by The Allstate Foundation in partnership with the National Network to End Domestic Violence. In addition to working toward financial empowerment, the curriculum also included lessons on how to address safety, clear up past misuse of financial records and accounts, and untangle financial relationships with the abusive partner.
The Allstate Foundation works to enhance people’s well-being and prosperity, with additional focus on safe driving by teens and financial independence for victims of domestic violence. Its research has shown that financial empowerment and financial independence is the strongest predictor of whether a survivor stays, leaves, or returns to an abusive relationship – even stronger than personal safety.
If you’d like to know more, attached is a module of The Allstate Foundation’s financial empowerment curriculum, Moving Ahead Through Money Management.
From SHE MATTERS: STATUS OF IOWA’S WOMEN AND GIRLS (the report Chrysalis authored in 2012), we know these things about domestic violence:
- 1 in 4 women report experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes.
- 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused in the United States each year as a result of domestic violence.
- 85% of spouse abuse victims are female.
- 86% of victims of abuse by a girlfriend or boyfriend are female.
- Over $5.8 billion each year is spent on health-related costs of domestic violence.
- Nearly 8 million days of paid work each year is lost due to domestic violence issues-the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs.
- 96% of domestic violence victims who are employed experience problems at work due to abuse.
- 33% of all police time is spent responding to domestic disturbance calls.
- 57% of cities in the US cite domestic violence against women and children as the leading cause of homelessness.
- 3 out of 4 Americans personally know a person who has been or is currently being abused.
In addition to funding our grant partners assisting victims of domestic violence, Chrysalis is taking a proactive approach to prevention. All girls in Chrysalis After-School programs will participate in GIRLPOWER!, our curriculum on healthy relationships and avoiding dating violence. We’re grateful to partner with Mercy Medical Center in this work, and we intend to eliminate the incidence of domestic and sexual violence our Chrysalis program “graduates” experience in their lives.