MALDEF

Financial Education as an Essential Tool in Domestic Violence Prevention

June 26, 2009 – Sadly, the nation’s current economic recession has also lead to an increase in violence within the family. Financial stress can lead to more frequent, more violent, and more dangerous abuse when domestic violence already exists, and a worsening economic situation at home can make it more difficult for some victims to leave abusive relationships.

A recently released survey of domestic violence shelters across the U.S. confirms that a considerable increase in domestic violence is due to the downturn in the economy. The survey data found that three out of four domestic violence shelters report a significant increase in women seeking assistance for abuse since September 2008, a major turning point in the U.S. economy. Most women cite financial stress and job loss as the leading contributing factors in the increase in domestic violence cases that lead them to seek shelter.

While the institutional focus has been on the financial crisis, attention must also be paid to how victims of domestic violence can be protected and empowered. By controlling and limiting the victim’s access to financial resources, an abuser ensures that the victim will be financially limited should they choose to leave the relationship, forcing a choice between living with scarce economic resources or remaining in an abusive relationship.

Because economic self-sufficiency can mean the difference between suffering from relationship aggression and safety, knowing and understanding the principles of money management can be an essential tool for preventing abuse. MALDEF’s Domestic Violence Prevention Program offers workshops on personal financial management and covers budgeting, keeping financial records safe and confidential, preventing identity theft, taking a financial inventory, understanding and avoiding predatory lending, debt management, developing financial goals and building good credit. The goal of these workshops is to provide economic independence to victims of domestic violence, an opportunity to create a new start, and personal empowerment.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and interested in taking steps towards financial self-sufficiency, please click here for important tips.

To learn more about how to develop a general safety plan, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE); visit MALDEF’s Domestic Violence Prevention page on our website; and call MALDEF’s bilingual Info Line at 1-866-NO-ABUSO (1-866-662-2876).

This MALDEF Latino Financial Empowerment message is sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more information please go to www.aecf.org.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund