Providing the Support Needed for Independence

Current research estimates that between 25-33% of U.S. women experience domestic violence (DV) by a current or former husband or boyfriend, or same-sex partner in their lifetimes. Domestic violence is an important public health problem and is associated with a large range of poor mental and physical health outcomes. In addition, as many as 8 million children are exposed to this violence, and they are also at risk for a wide range of adverse physical and mental health outcomes and developmental delays.

Our team is pursuing research and programmatic efforts to determine whether financial literacy and asset-building programs with mothers and families identified as victims, may result in a decrease in repeat experiences of domestic violence. Our rationale for this is the link in the research literature between domestic violence and financial instability and distress.

Our financial literacy education program builds basic financial knowledge while recognizing that there is considerable diversity in the products offered across financial institutions. Our Socratic method program is developed around teaching cases that are contemporary from a product perspective — and  tend to better prepare participants for an evolving product market. We also explicitly educate participants about the role of their own personal biases, especially in complex decisions like the purchase of financial services products. Participants are aided in their understanding that there are small, specific questions that can break down what seems to be an otherwise complex financial services decision.

Why Financial Education for Victims of Domestic Violence?

Our program engages participants not only in the classroom, but in the building and active management of their own financial assets. To do this, we include an Individual Development Account (IDA) in parallel with the educational program. The IDA has a match feature in which participant’s accumulated savings are matched at the program’s conclusion. At the close of the program, an account in the participants name with both the accumulated savings and match will be deposited, with allowable withdrawal for purposes to increase personal economic security (for exampleapartment deposit or lease-breaking fees, temporary hotel stays for families in time of need, initial deposits for used automobile purchases).

The Goals of this Program

Our financial capability program is designed to develop problem-based, Socratic method course materials and to deliver these in a program that will provide participants an enhanced knowledge and understanding of financial services products, numeracy, and the potential biases that can often affect complex decision-making. We intend to increase their financial knowledge and confidence through education and to improve asset accumulation through an Individual Development Account (IDA).