Bringing Financial Capability Services to Survivors of Domestic Violence in Rural Communities
According to a study from the Center for Financial Security, financial abuse occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases. Financial abuse can take many forms and has devastating short- and long-term effects on survivors. Connecting survivors to financial capability services that help them become financially independent can move them from short-term safety to long-term stability.
To increase access to financial capability services for survivors, Prosperity Now recently partnered with two organizations: Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center (Seekhaven) and the Abused Adult Resource Center (AARC). Seekhaven assists survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in rebuilding their lives through client advocacy, emergency shelter and transition assistance. AARC serves families and individuals in distress through crisis intervention, children support programs, emergency shelter, protective services and an employment program. Both organizations are located in rural areas; Seekhaven is in Moab, Utah and AARC is in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Over the course of 10 months, Prosperity Now worked with Seekhaven and AARC to select financial capability services that would benefit their clients and identify partners that could provide those services. Seekhaven decided to refer clients to financial counseling for one-on-one support with their unique financial needs. AARC decided to provide tailored financial education to their clients and explored partnership opportunities with a local credit union and local employers to connect clients to safe financial products and services as well as job shadowing opportunities.
Through our work with Seekhaven and AARC, we affirmed two key lessons:
- Don’t pursue this alone – especially in rural areas, where it’s critical to identify partners who can provide financial capability services.
- If you don’t know where to start, a variety of resources already exist that focus specifically on financial education for survivors of domestic violence.
Organizations in rural areas may want to start planning financial capability integration by understanding partnership opportunities before or at the same time as assessing client needs because their services may be limited by which providers are in their area.
To identify partners, Seekhaven drafted a community map of financial capability organizations and resources throughout Utah and identified the Fair Credit Foundation as a statewide provider of financial counseling. They also chose to strengthen relationships with organizations in Moab—including the Moab Free Health Clinic and Utah State University—to facilitate additional referrals to meet client needs. AARC also opted to use partnerships to deliver new services since internal staff are focused on the immediate safety of clients. AARC developed partnerships with a local credit union and local employers to connect clients to safe financial products and services as well as employment opportunities.
Finally, in working with Seekhaven and AARC, we were reminded of the many resources available to organizations working with survivors of domestic violence. They include, but are not limited to:
- Purple Purse: This curriculum, developed by The Allstate Foundation in partnership with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, includes five modules: Understanding Financial Abuse, Learning Financial Fundamentals, Mastering Credit Basics, Building Financial Foundations and Creating Budgeting Strategies.
- Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV) Financial Education: KCADV provides modules on budgeting, credit management and predatory financial products.
- National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) Resources: As part of its economic justice program, NNEDV has developed user-friendly brochures on ending a financial relationship with an abusive partner, credit and debt repair and taxes.