Rutgers Study: Financial Education is Key to Unlocking Domestic Violence Recovery

by | 07/30/14 | Commentary, Insight, Uncategorized

Research Demonstrates that Financial Literacy Resources Enhance Survivor Success

Financial education advocates are stepping up their calls for greater financial literacy programs for victims of domestic violence after a study released this week revealed that financial education goes a long way towards helping survivors better understand and manage their personal financial affairs, which is an essential skill enabling them to live free from violence and abuse. The results of the study validate what social service providers have been saying for years.

The study was conducted by the Rutgers University School of Social Work through the support of the Allstate Foundation and the National Network to End Domestic Violence. More than 450 survivors of domestic violence from seven states and Puerto Rico participated in the 14-month study after they were selected based on their participation in the "Moving Ahead through Financial Management Curriculum." The study revealed that women who completed the curriculum showed a material improvement not only in their levels of financial literacy, but also in their attitudes and behavior with respect to their personal financial affairs. In fact, on every financial metric evaluated, those who were trained achieved more successful results than those who were not.

The following data represent other notable statistics exhibited by the domestic violence survivors who finished the curriculum:

• 90% understood how to create a budget
• 86% learned how to establish financial goals
• 72% recognized how to enhance their credit rating
• After the curriculum was completed, there was an 18% rise in the number of survivors using a bank account

The “Moving Ahead through Financial Management Curriculum” was created jointly by The Allstate Foundation and the National Network to End Domestic Violence and currently is the most extensively used financial education curriculum for domestic violence victims and service providers throughout the United States. The program includes tailored situational elements, such as information on ways to untie and terminate financial relationships with abusive partners and strategies to successfully manage safety concerns.

Social service providers have long contended that financial abuse is a common tactic used by those who engage in domestic violence as a means of controlling their victims, including by limiting their access to money, ruining their credit, and damaging their ability to maintain gainful employment. As a result, financial empowerment remains one of the most important ways in which survivors can overcome the exploitation of their abusers and move towards a more successful life with longer term financial and overall security. Given the results of this latest survey, many financial education professionals are moving ahead with efforts to even further expand the availability of the curriculum and to help eradicate the financial abuse that too often is associated domestic violence.

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