By Loretta Worters, Vice President – Media Relations, Triple-I
When you think about domestic violence, insurance typically isn’t top of mind. But financial security and access to resources can make all the difference to victims when deciding to leave an abusive relationship. And insurance is an important component of financial planning that can help survivors move forward.
Financial abuse is a common tactic used by abusers to gain power and control in a relationship. The forms of financial abuse may be subtle or explicit but, in general, include tactics to conceal information, limit the victim’s access to assets, or reduce accessibility to the family finances.
Growing evidence shows the pandemic has made intimate partner violence more common—and often more severe. Layoffs, loss of income, and living in isolation with abusers due to working remotely have dramatically increased the incidence of domestic violence, further hampering a victim from leaving an abusive situation.
Survivors struggling to get back on their feet may also be forced to return to their abuser. That’s why it’s so important that survivors understand how insurance works and what a critical role it can play in gaining financial freedom and economic self-sufficiency.
In support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Triple-I offers financial strategies to protect victims before and after leaving an abusive relationship. They include securing financial records, knowing where the victim stands financially, building a financial safety net, making necessary changes to their insurance policies and maintaining good credit.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that 10 million people are physically abused by an intimate partner each year, and 20,000 calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines each day. In addition, 85 percent of women who leave an abusive relationship return because of their economic dependence on their abusers.
“Home is often times a dangerous place for survivors of domestic violence, and COVID-19 exacerbates the circumstances, due to the abusers’ ability to further control,” said Ruth Glenn, president and CEO of the NCADV. “Tactics abusers use include ruining the credit of their victim as well as financial and digital abuse, such as stimulus funds being co-opted by abusers to an increase in domestic online harassment,” she said.
Experts agree that domestic online harassment can come in many forms, from impersonating a victim by email to sabotage her work to controlling information about the pandemic to make her more fearful and dependent.
Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has been committed to ending domestic violence through financial empowerment by helping to provide survivors with the education and resources needed to achieve their potential and equip young people with the information and confidence they need to help prevent unhealthy relationships before they start. The Allstate Foundation offers a Moving Ahead Curriculum, a five-module program that helps prepare survivors as they move from short-term safety to long-term security. Modules of the curriculum include: Understanding Financial Abuse; Learning Financial Fundamentals; Mastering Credit Basics; Building Financial Foundations and Long-Term Planning.
“One of the most powerful methods of keeping a survivor trapped in an abusive relationship is not being able to support themselves financially,” Glenn explained. “That’s why insurance and financial education are so important,” she said. “Education can save a life.”