By Ashley Wilson
Rise Above Violence
An immediate but otherwise manageable crisis can quickly snowball into catastrophe, resulting in homelessness and poverty for a victim of domestic violence.
It is estimated that domestic violence costs a female survivor an average of $104,000 across her lifetime. Making matters worse, 99 percent of domestic violence survivors are also subjected to economic abuse, which occurs when abusers control survivors’ access to financial resources through such tactics as stealing money or property from survivors, taking out loans in survivors’ names without their knowledge or consent, controlling financial information and/or disrupting survivors’ ability to earn income. In fact, up to 60 percent of survivors lose their jobs as a result of the abuse they are subjected to.
Victims often face homelessness and poverty, choosing between safety and feeding their children. The No. 1 reason survivors stay in abusive relationships or return to abuse is because they cannot afford to leave or stay safe. In fact, 73 percent of survivors report financial insecurity as the reason for staying with their harm-doer and 50 percent of these survivors stayed with their harm-doer for two years or longer.
Can you image having to stay in a place that you are not safe for two years because you do not have the financial means to leave? Economic abuse is also a type of domestic violence; victims in many cases are also physically abused, but not in all scenarios.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “Economic abuse involves maintaining control over financial resources, withholding access to money or attempting to prevent a victim or survivor from working and/or attending school in an effort to create financial dependence as a means of control. Victims and survivors are often forced to choose between staying in abusive relationships and poverty or even homelessness. Economic abuse is a very common reason victims stay in abusive relationships. Economic abuse can take many forms, including employment-related abuse, preventing the victim from accessing existing funds, coerced debt and more.”
When a victim has limited or no access to bank accounts or assets, it makes it even more difficult to leave. Sometimes victims do not have access to important documents like birth certificates, Social Security cards, even driver’s licenses, which makes it all the more difficult to get a job or prove their identity.
When a victim is ready to leave, they often need extra help due to the financial abuse; they typically have no money to pay for basic items, such as groceries, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, even something as simple as a new driver’s license or extended counseling. Grants help to cover the cost of rent, but not a mortgage. They will cover utilities, but not clothes for work; and they typically do not cover the necessary items we mentioned above. Rise Above Violence is raising funds for our 25th anniversary to establish a flexible spending assistance fund that will help victims cover these costs.
You can help victims with these simple but vital needs that can prevent a catastrophe for them. Be part of WeRISE for 25 and help raise $25,000 by the end of the year to ensure that victims in our community are safe and financially secure. Every dollar helps create safety for a victim and their family.
As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we can all come together to make a difference for victims in our community. It will take us all to begin to end relationship violence in our community.
Join us in activities this month that show survivors they are supported. Learn more at www.riseaboveviolence.org:
• Follow Rise on Facebook and Instagram and share posts — your post may the one thing a victim sees.
• Donate to the WeRISE for 25 campaign that will set up a flexible spending fund Rise can use to help victims with simple needs that help to stabilize them.
• Attend Coffee Talk on Oct. 21 at the Tennyson Building and Event Center at 9 a.m.
• Wear purple on Oct. 21 for Wear Purple Day.
• Oct. 22: Combined fundraiser for Rise and Expressions School of the Arts (now the nonprofit for the Pagosa Springs Dance Academy).
Rise is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving over 350 victims each year. Rise also works to eliminate violence through education for youth and our community. All programs and services are free and confidential, including emergency prevention education and empowerment programs. Visit www.riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call (970) 264-9075 to talk to an advocate today.
Statistics from this article are from NCADV and Freefrom.com.