Helped by an advocate from a local program of the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV), Nicole escaped her abusive husband in 2015. But she needed additional assistance to establish herself — and two teenage sons — safely in a new life.
Her abuser had told her that leaving him would doom her to permanent poverty. “You’ll live in a cardboard box the rest of your life!” he yelled.
But through KCADV’s Economic Empowerment Program, Nicole worked on improving her finances, began saving money and took homebuying classes. Less than a year after gaining the courage to walk out, she‘d saved enough for a down payment on a home in a quiet neighborhood.
Across Kentucky, thousands of women have found themselves trapped in the situation Nicole faced. The violence isn’t only physical or emotional. “In 99 percent of the cases there is also economic violence,” says Andrea Miller, who directs the Economic Empowerment Program. “One person uses money to control the other. The number one reason why women stay in an abusive relationship is money – the fear they can’t make it independently.”
As its name promises, the Economic Empowerment Program, which now serves approximately 2,000 Kentuckians, helps victims of spousal violence rebuild their lives economically.
Now, with the grant from the Foundation for Financial Planning, KCADV is recruiting more volunteer financial planners to work with domestic violence survivors. Some sessions involve groups; in others planners intensively work one-on-one over time to help clients improve their credit, create budgets and build plans to solidify their future.
In one part of the state, Andrea says, there were just three planners. Now, with the grant, they’ve recruited 13.
“This grant allows us to engage volunteer planners who have third-party objectivity,” Andrea says. “We know that it helps survivors move forward.”
“We’ve found that the best work happens when it’s in a one-on-one setting. If you want to see behavioral change, one-on-one planning is the way to go. The relationship drives the change.”
— Andrea Miller, Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Worked with a financial planner to improve her finances
- Saved enough money for a down payment on first home
- Gained financial independence following a violent relationship