Empowering Survivors of Domestic Violence through Financial Literacy

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak at a workshop on the intersection of financial capability and domestic violence held by the Treasury Department, Social Security Administration, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Financial Security. The workshop brought together leaders from government, academia, and non-profits to discuss the connection between violence and financial well-being, and to talk about policy strategies that deliver targeted support to domestic violence survivors.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, victims of domestic violence face tremendous barriers to achieving financial literacy and security. They are often isolated, exploited, and prevented from developing the skills necessary to achieve independence.  Physical and psychological distress can also disrupt stable employment, jeopardize hiring, or otherwise impede economic self-sufficiency.  

This lack of financial security can result in greater dependence on an abuser, and consequently the inability of a victim to end an abusive relationship for fear of losing her home, source of income, or child care. That’s why fostering economic empowerment for women is essential to helping victims of domestic violence establish the stability and independence they need to move forward.

Ending domestic violence is a priority for the Obama Administration. Agencies across the Federal government are committed to helping victims build credit, gain access to safe financial products, save for the future, take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and use tools available to them on www.mymoney.gov to improve their financial literacy.

Today’s meeting served as a step forward in engaging with agencies and those working in financial education and financial access fields, a step that will inform practice and policy in this area. Together, we can make great progress in helping families in crisis move toward greater stability and opportunity. 

Jennifer Kaplan is the Deputy Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls

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