Economic Empowerment is a Social Justice Issue
Living a life with dignity means having the freedom to make decisions about one's own life. It's society's responsibility to promote and protect these human rights. When people can make these decisions free of coercion and violence, they can participate more fully and equally in society. A person's economic situation and choices are closely tied to issues such as gender and racial disparities, poverty and discrimination in the economic sphere. For victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence, their freedoms can be limited both by their current economic circumstances as well as by the abuse and its impact. We cannot address or hope to help victims and survivors achieve safety without also considering their individual economic needs and broader issues of economic justice.
Economic challenges ranging from credit, debt, and foreclosure to job security, housing costs, educational opportunities, property ownership, and medical expenses are often compounded for victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Their financial situation might determine what kind of access they have to a variety of services and options. The abuse may have a financial impact such as when victims incur expenses if they decide to move out of their neighborhood, drop out of school or need to stop working.
In terms of sexual violence specifically, studies also show that living without housing, a stable income, employment, or steady education may increase a person’s risk for sexual victimization.
Domestic violence might involve finances being used as a tool of power and control such as when a batterer restricts a victim's access to the family’s finances or controls the victim's entire paycheck. This is often referred to as economic abuse. One study showed that economic abuse is not well understood or recognized:
- 74% of Americans personally know someone who is or has been abused.
- Approximately 6 out of 10 Americans strongly agree that the lack of money and a steady income is often a challenge faced by a survivor of domestic violence when leaving her/his abuser.
- Yet, 75% Americans also fail to connect domestic violence with economic abuse.
In the recent Domestic Violence Non-Residential Services and Supports Study, survivors identified a need for additional help in achieving and maintaining economic independence and empowerment. These needs ranged from transitional and long-term housing to job training, employment, and other financial supports for basic needs. In fact, 50.9% of survivors reported being unable to pay their bills or having trouble paying regular bills and 44.7% of survivors reported their current financial situation as “much worse” or “worse” than two years ago.
Helping victims and survivors of sexual and domestic abuse achieve financial security is a key component of helping them live a life without fear and violence. JDI's Economic Empowerment work expands the capacity of our member programs to advance the financial goals of victims and survivors wherever they may fall on the spectrum. By working on many levels, we can invest in a range opportunities to support the autonomy of survivors and promote economic justice.
- Economic Abuse - Learn what it is and where can you turn for help.
- Economic Advocacy- Read about the exciting work at Jane Doe Inc. to address these issues.