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Asian-Pacific Shelters' Panel Speaker (1-5) Alena Victor


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Alena Victor, Assistant Director of Shelters of New York Asian Women's Center (Pacific/USA) gave a presentation on "Financial literacy and its impact on economic empowerment of domestic violence survivors".

View her video on Youtube here:

The parallel event "Asian-Pacific Shelters: Going the Second Mile with Advocacy and Service Work" was held at the 58th NGO-CSW in New York, USA. To learn more about the Asian Network of Women's Shelters, please visit

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Asian-Pacific Shelters' Panel Speaker (1-5) Alena Victor

  1. 1. FINANCIAL LITERACY: ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT AND IMPACT ON A SURVIVOR OF DV What to consider in developing interventions …
  2. 2. AGENDA: ⦿Statistics ⦿Review of Financial and other types Abuse and its impact on a survivor ⦿What is economic empowerment? ⦿Intervention strategies in working toward self-sufficiency
  3. 3. NY/US STATS: ⦿ US: ◼ 1 in 4 will women will experience DV in her lifetime ◼ 41 –61% of Asian women report experiencing physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime. This is higher than the rates in a national study reported by Whites (21.3%), African Americans (26.3%), Hispanics of any race (21.2%), people of mixed race (27.0%), and American Indians and Alaskan Natives (30.7%), and Asians and Pacific Islanders (12.8%). (2000) ⦿ NY: ◼ There were 50,088 reported cases of domestic violence in 2006 ◼ NY: Victims of IPV lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence ◼ NY: The majority (73%) of family violence victims are female. Females were 84% of spousal abuse victims and 86% of abuse victims at the hands of a boyfriend.4 ⦿ Women receive a greater number of injuries from multiple batterers ⦿ This analysis of existing data also found that women experienced more economic abuse and physical abuse than men, and the risk of experiencing physical abuse among those who also experienced economic abuse was 4.68 times greater than those who did not experience economic abuse (Outlaw, 2009). ⦿ In addition to experiencing economic abuse, survivors also face greater challenges managing finances as survivors and as women (Anthes & Most, 2000; Johnson & Sherraden, 2007). National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2007 Tjaden P, Thoennes N. Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Research Report. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; July 2000.
  5. 5. FINANCIAL/ECONOMIC ABUSE ⦿ Forbidding the victim to work ⦿ Sabotaging work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing the victim at the workplace or causing the victim to lose her job by physically battering prior to important meetings or interviews ⦿ Controlling how all of the money is spent ⦿ Not allowing the victim access to bank accounts ⦿ Withholding money or giving “an allowance” ⦿ Not including the victim in investment or banking decisions ⦿ Forbidding the victim from attending job training or advancement opportunities ⦿ Forcing the victim to write bad checks or file fraudulent tax returns ⦿ Running up large amounts of debt on joint accounts ⦿ Refusing to work or contribute to the family income ⦿ Withholding funds for the victim or children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine ⦿ Hiding assets ⦿ Stealing the victim’s identity, property or inheritance ⦿ Forcing the victim to work in a family business without pay ⦿ Refusing to pay bills and ruining the victims’ credit score ⦿ Forcing the victim to turn over public benefits or threatening to turn the victim in for “cheating or misusing benefits” ⦿ Filing false insurance claims ⦿ Refusing to pay or evading child support or manipulating the divorce process by drawing it out by hiding or not disclosing assets NNEDV:
  6. 6. SOCIO-CULTURAL FACTORS OF ABUSE: ⦿ Internalized victim-blaming is deeper because several family members blame the survivor. ⦿ Internalized devaluation is driven deeper because there is more than one person saying things like, “You deserve this” or “you’re worthless”. ⦿ Lack of allies within family structure minimizes social support network available for the survivor to access. ⦿ Uncomprehending systems that the survivor comes into contact with, are likely to respond inadequately. ⦿ Diminished credibility is afforded to battered women by systems, families, and their own communities. ⦿ Battered women may be viewed as denying, minimizing or not cooperating about a domestic violence incident because investigative questions assume that the intimate partner is the batterer. ⦿ Community attitudes towards survivors are a exploitative tool used by the abusers as a tactic of abuse.
  7. 7. IMPACT ⦿physical and emotional scars ⦿ruined credit scores ⦿sporadic employment histories ⦿legal issues caused by the battering make it extremely difficult to gain independence, safety and long term security.
  8. 8. WHY FOCUS ON FINANCIAL LITERACY AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT? ⦿ A large contributor to a survivor choosing to stay in an abusive environment is really making a choice between homelessness or financial security and poverty ⦿ Victims also may lack fundamental money management knowledge and skills to survive on their own. ⦿ Many who decide to leave continue to remain in a poverty cycle ⦿ Lack of income and economic concerns is a common reason victims cite for staying in abusive relationships. (Sanders & Schnabel, 2006; Turner & Shapiro, 1986; Zorza, 1991) ⦿ Recent research has documented economic abuse by intimate partners and how such abuse impacts a woman’s confidence in managing financial resources and her ability to achieve long-term safety and security (Adams, Sullivan, Bybee, & Greeson, 2008; Fawole, 2008; Postmus, Plummer, McMahon, & Murshid, unpublished) ⦿ In light of rising consumer debt, a volatile housing market, and increasing complex financial products and information over the last decade, both the public and private sectors have identified a growing need to better educate and empower consumers, particularly women who are so often heads of households (Hilgert, Hogarth, & Beverly, 2003; Hopley, 2003) ⦿ Research suggests that women face greater challenges managing their finances due to social conditioning that reinforces women’s beliefs of their inability to manage money, resulting in a reliance on men to manage their finances (Anthes & Most, 2000).
  9. 9. WHAT IS ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT? 1. an increase in financial literacy or the knowledge and skills to make sound financial decisions and obtain resources 2. an improvement in economic self-efficacy or the belief that one has the resources, options, and confidence to be successful 3. an enhancement in economic self-sufficiency or economic behaviors that demonstrate their economic self-efficacy or financial literacy regarding personal financial management (Gowdy & Pearlmutter, 1993; Perry & Morris, 2005; Vitt, et al., 2000). 1. Financial capability and economic literacy 2. Work that is voluntary 3. Allowing room for self-determination
  11. 11. SOCIO-CULTURAL BARRIERS : ⦿ Lack of familiarity with systems and resources in the U.S., ⦿ Language, economic, racial, cultural, religious, professional and/or identity based barriers in accessing services ⦿ Shame as a barrier in many Asian communities against seeking help ⦿ Repercussions towards abuser behavior is minimal, increasing their entitlement to engage in violence ⦿ Community attitudes of victim-blaming, silencing, shaming and rejecting battered women who speak up or seek help.
  12. 12. LIVING IN A SHELTER ENVIRONMENT ⦿ hyper-vigilance ⦿ sleep disturbances. ⦿ self-care, self-esteem, and interpersonal skills are compromised as a result of leaving an abusive ⦿ Distress children may be facing ⦿ faced with the task of adapting to their new environment and relationships ⦿ difficulty having a future focus
  13. 13. INTERVENTION STRATEGIES: ⦿ Creating a tiered/ stepped approach in intervening to break down the process for increasing accessibility ⦿ Financial Safety Planning ⦿ Identifying Financial goals and steps that support achievement ⦿ Developing contingency plans ⦿ Strengthen women’s connection to and use of community resources and support networks ⦿ When economics are addressed, usually income, educational & employment are the focus. Economic literacy is viewed as final stage of “education” provided to women; after mental/emotional health & “life skills” (e.g., cooking, cleaning & parenting skills) ⦿ What would be provided first if men filled shelters? ⦿ While we advocate for empowerment of survivors, economic empowerment needs to be explicitly included under this umbrella. ⦿ Therefore, we need to bring the interrelated areas of economic/emotional abuse, economic literacy and wealth/asset building to the forefront of direct, policy & research practice agendas ⦿ saving, budgeting, getting or repairing credit, cash flow management, purchasing a home, predatory lending practices, financing major purchases, investing, and wise spending habits
  14. 14. ⦿ Economic Barriers ⦿ How many women return to the abusive environment as a result of the barriers in developing economic stability ⦿ What is the difference between a job and a career, and why should that matter? ⦿ ⦿ make a financial plan. Mersch recommends victims begin by gathering financial information. “Safely locate and make copies of documents such as bank account statements, tax returns, and your children‟s Social Security numbers. You will need these items as you move toward financial independence.”