October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence in our society is a widespread, life-threatening epidemic. It affects millions of women regardless of their age, economic status, race, religion, or level of education.
It is one thing for survivors of domestic violence to escape a physically abusive relationship; many of them are left with scars that are a visible reminder of what they endured. But financial abuse is the invisible scar that damages a survivor’s economic wellbeing. Once victims do break free from a violent household, they are left without any financial means to support themselves or their children. Their credit is ruined, their job has been compromised, and their personal property has been destroyed.
More than 40% of Americans say they don’t understand financial abuse. Abusers control by: denying access to money or credit cards; interfering with rent or mortgage payments; and/or forbidding work outside the home. For many survivors, years of conditioning reinforced their belief that they are unable to manage money.
How do survivors of financial abuse begin to build, or re-build, a sense of financial literacy that will allow them to navigate this complex financial world we live in? House of Ruth has been selected by the Allstate Foundation to join the national Purple Purse Fundraising Challenge to spotlight financial abuse as a growing form of domestic violence. Throughout the month of October, they are dedicating their mission to this national campaign to strengthen the way they engage others about the topic of financial abuse.
One in four women experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. Of those women, 98% will also suffer from financial abuse – a tactic carried out by abusers that makes it even more difficult for victims to break free. “My abusive husband blocked my access to our checking account,” recalls Melanie, a survivor. “Once I was out of that relationship, I opened my own account and put security measures on it to protect it.”
House of Ruth hopes to empower survivors, like Melanie, with an understanding of how to budget and manage their own money and to develop their own financial goals. This will give them the confidence to make the right financial choices for themselves and their children. They also want to build survivors’ knowledge of identity theft, consumer credit, banking and child support, among other financial issues. Help them reach their goal by pledging, donating, sharing, or engaging with House of Ruth and the Purple Purse Challenge at http://bit.ly/purplepurse2015.
Submitted by House of Ruth