By: David Anderson, President and CEO, W!se
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While physical abuse is the most obvious form of abuse, domestic violence is not just physical. It also involves emotional, social, psychological, and financial coercion. The last of these is especially prevalent. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 94-99% of domestic violence survivors have experienced financial abuse.
Financial abuse is a common tactic used by abusers to gain power and control over their partners. While the forms of financial abuse may vary, the goal of financial abuse is typically to intentionally manipulate, intimidate, and threaten the victim in order to entrap that person in the relationship.
This type of abuse is easily undetectable by those not involved in the relationship, which can make its impact on victims longstanding. This abuse can also be concealed by the abuser until the victim is in a compromised financial situation. Like other forms of abuse, financial abuse may be present throughout the relationship or may become present when the survivor is attempting to leave.
Highlighting Financial Abuse Aid During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
First recognized in 1989 by Congress, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is held every October to raise awareness of domestic violence across the U.S. and, more importantly, amplify the resources available to victims and survivors including violence treatment, prevention and recovery.
Studies have shown that a vital solution for financial abuse is financial education, which can reduce the rates of violence against women by between 3% and 11%.
Supporting Survivors through Financial Education
Our MoneyW!se program provides this much needed financial education by helping survivors develop the financial knowledge, skills and confidence needed to break free of abusive relationships and find a pathway to financial independence. Our 10-12 session course on personal finance includes pedagogy and materials all provided by W!se.
While each victim’s financial situations differ, the course content empowers participants to understand their personal situation and challenges so they can find and implement real solutions such as debt management, retirement planning and financial goal setting.
“I had been in a bad marriage for more than 20 years, not realizing that it was domestic violence because I thought DV was only physical abuse. After discovering his infidelity, I realized that I’d been kept in the dark about our finances. My advocate told me about MoneyW!SE and I enrolled. I’m so happy that I came to the class because now I know I can make it alone and take control of my finances. This course was such an awesome opportunity, and it made me more knowledgeable and confident in my ability to handle my money and credit.” (MoneyW!SE participant)
Partnering to Amplify Support
Since 2019, Discover Financial Services has supported MoneyW!se via a partnership that has expanded the program to over 15 cities including Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Discover has supported financial literacy programs for many years, and we are thrilled to have their partnership to expand the opportunities for survivors of domestic violence to gain life changing skills and knowledge that will help them leave abusive relationships and rebuild their lives.
“The impact that MoneyW!se makes is inspiring,” says Senior Principal of Community Affairs Jennifer Grisamore. “Discover is proud of our long-term partnership that continues to expand the program offering and importantly support survivors as they strive to regain financial independence.”
Our partnership with Discover has allowed us to increase our reach to 13 new communities in the U.S., and we build online programming that reaches populations in rural areas and those without the means to travel to class. This is crucial to success as 90% of MoneyW!se participants are minority and predominately low to moderate income.
“MoneyW!SE expands the way you think about your future responsibly. Attending this course was one of the best things I have done for myself.” (MoneyW!se participant)
Along with my team and our partners Discover, we are excited to continue our progress to increase recognition of financial abuse and provide domestic violence survivors with the knowledge and skills to take control of their financial lives not only during October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but throughout the year
This month, and every month, we are proud of the work our team does to provide hope, instill confidence and share a pathway to financial independence that helps release victims from the economic burdens of abusive relationships.
The W!se program is sponsored by Discover in addition to Enova Financial, First Eagle Investment Management, Foundation for Financial Planning and Synchrony with support of other partners including Family Justice Centers, YWCA’s as well W!se instructors.