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Get Back Your Green: Tips for Economic Recovery After Abuse

“Money makes the world go round.” If you’ve ever struggled with money, you know the truth behind that frustrating saying. Financial issues can make you feel stuck, like your whole world is on hold. For someone leaving abuse or thinking about leaving, this can be one of biggest factors that gets in the way.

A survey sponsored by Mary Kay, Inc. in 2012 found that 74% of survivors stayed with an abusive partner for longer than they wanted to because of financial concerns. It’s also one of the main barriers for those who are trying to leave.

Exiting an abusive situation is more challenging if a victim is stressing about finances while trying to rebuild their life. Financial difficulties can also be a reason victims return to abusers.

In a time when there are so many other things to think about and plan for, how do you safeguard against some of the financial risks that come with leaving?  We’ve put together some tips for economic safety and recovery that are helpful right after leaving. Please know that these may not be the right options for everyone. Please evaluate your own situation, and keep your safety in mind.

Securing your financial information

If your ex has knowledge of or access to your passwords, SSN, credit card statements or other identifying info, it could be a good idea to take measures to keep your personal info safe.

Call banks, credit card companies and utility companies (including wireless phone services) to change your account numbers, PIN numbers and passwords. Change the passwords to online banking and email accounts.

Close any joint credit cards. You may consider opening your own checking account and applying for a credit card if you don’t already have one, in order to start building your own credit history.

To further secure your financial information, open a P.O. box for mail and any financial documents you might receive.

Accessing your credit report

A credit report shows if bills and loans have been paid on time and if there are any outstanding loans or money owed. You can request a free copy of your credit report from any of the following agencies — and that’s a good place to start. Review your credit report at least once a year.

Equifax at 1-800-525-6285

Experian at 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)

TransUnion at 1-800-680-7289

Annual Credit Report at 1-877-322-8228

Credit reports can determine the amount and interest rate of loans you apply for. A good credit history is also important for renting a home, getting insurance, applying for a job and more — employers, insurance companies and creditors often check your credit report.

Addressing and rebuilding a bad credit report

In starting to repair a bad credit score, remember to make consistent payments on rent and loans. While these often won’t show up on your credit report, you can ask landlords, utility companies and other creditors to supply this info when you’re applying for credit. A record of on-time payments looks good.

You can also ask these people to write positive credit reference letters for you when you’re applying for credit.

Building up a good credit score takes time, but paying bills on time, paying off debt, correcting and disputing any mistakes and refraining from building up additional debt are steps in the right direction.

Additional Resources

Local domestic violence programs have different resources you can access for support and these programs can also help with your safety concerns after leaving. If you call NDVH at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) our advocates can locate programs in your community.

  • The Allstate Foundation’s Click to Empower is an organization designed specifically to assist survivors with economic challenges. They have online resources, courses and grants to help survivors “get safe, stay safe and thrive.”
  • The Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE) has many helpful articles in the Divorce category.
  • Women’s Law includes more information on financial protections to take if you’re getting ready to leave or have just left an abusive relationship.

Are you a survivor who faced financial hardships once you left? How did you handle financial obstacles?


National Domestic Violence Hotline Unveils 10-Year Blueprint to Significantly Reduce Domestic Violence In America

Washington D.C. – The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), with support from the United States Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), unveiled today at the White House, a national blueprint to significantly reduce domestic violence by 2017. The Decade for Change Report is a culmination of four months of collective work by corporate, private and government leadership to develop bold ideas and unprecedented initiatives for preventing domestic violence in .

“Despite significant efforts over the past decade to address the problem of domestic violence in our country, 33 million American women continue to experience abuse every year,” said Sheryl Cates, NDVH chief executive officer. “As a society, we can and need to do more to stop the cycle of violence before it starts. The Decade for Change Report provides the unique opportunity to not only develop viable solutions for primary prevention, but importantly, it is the first step in creating a unified national movement to end domestic violence.”

“Collaboration is the key to changing attitudes and strengthening the resolve of individuals to end all abuse of women, youth and men,” said Mary Beth Buchanan, Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women. “OVW is proud to partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline to raise awareness about teen dating violence and implement the national blueprint released today.”

More than 120 Summit panelists representing the public and private sectors, faith communities, domestic violence services, youth, state and federal officials, media, education, and medical/mental health professionals participated in a series of three Summit meetings over the course of the last year. The panelists were called on to provide experience and expertise from their respective fields with the ultimate goal of co-creating recommendations to address how various sectors/industries can participate to solve the problem of domestic violence.

“We realized that the challenge of stopping violence is not for women or advocates to solve alone,” continued Cates. “The goal of the Summit was to bring together a representation of all sectors of society to find common ground and bring a collaborative vision to address the issue of violence against women.”

Based on outcomes of the Summit, the Decade for Change Report focuses on four primary thematic areas: public awareness; education and training; organizing men as role models, and primary prevention focusing on ’s youth. The themes do not stand in isolation, but are interdependent in their approach to ending domestic violence. Among the many Report recommendations:

Theme One: Public Awareness

· Shift public opinion and attitudes as well as social norms that say it is okay to tolerate domestic violence to a national consensus that violence against women is unacceptable.

“Creating safe families and communities is something we should all strive to support. The Decade for Change effort creates a voice for those who need to be heard by working to eliminate domestic violence,” said Summit sponsor and panelist, Laysha Ward, vice president, community relations, Target.

Theme Two: Education and Training

· Professional education and training must be integrated into every system, both public and private, including school systems, health care settings; corporate , faith communities and the government.

· New and innovative models should be utilized. Work should be community driven, transformative and linked to certification and professional requirements as part of a universal prevention approach.

“Education can provide an understanding that mass public awareness does not,” said Summit sponsor, Jennifer Kuhn, program manager, The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program. “Through targeted and consistent education, we can increase the individual capacity of family, friends, bystanders and neighbors to understand domestic violence and know how to respond and/or engage appropriate community and corporate resources.”

Decade for Change Report/page three

Theme Three: Outreach and Inclusion of Men

· Focus prevention efforts on men by bringing them into the work as role models and messengers to influence other men. Consider men and boys as an audience for awareness, information and services.

· Engage men by changing the language, and rather than compartmentalizing, create an understanding that all men have a role in preventing and ending domestic violence.

“We need to shape and deliver messages to all males by redefining gender roles and establishing new, positive culturally-sensitive male role models,” said Maury Lane, NDVH advisory board member and Summit panelist. “Simply put, positive male role models, who ignore the problem of domestic violence, ensure the continuation of a vicious cycle that has hurt so many women over so many years.”

Theme Four: Outreach to Youth

· Target primary prevention efforts at youth to affect developing values and opinions about domestic violence.

· Create a national youth advisory board to accommodate the rapidly changing youth culture.

“Despite girls’ empowerment programs and evolving gender roles, these efforts have not translated into healthy relationship expectations and behaviors,” said Summit panelist and sponsor, Lupita Reyes, national program director
Domestic Violence & Healthcare, Verizon Foundation. “Affecting a shift in attitudes among today’s youth can help break generations of unhealthy patterns and stop violence before it begins.”

While domestic violence is perpetrated against men, the Decade for Change Report is framed to address the larger problem of men’s violence against women in intimate relationships and how it impacts families, communities and the country.

“The best solution for our nation’s families is that they never experience violence in the first place,” said Cates. “It is our hope that the Decade for Change Report becomes a call to action to engage new partnerships and raise our collective voices to leave a lasting legacy of safety and respect within all American homes.”


National Leaders Convene To Find Solutions

Washington D.C. – The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) will honor a decade of answering calls and saving lives by launching the first-of-its-kind Decade for Change Summit. This unprecedented gathering of corporate, private and government leadership has been called together to develop a 10-year blueprint for change to significantly reduce domestic violence in America.

More than 100 summit panelists representing the public and private sectors, faith communities, domestic violence services, youth, state and federal officials, media, education, and medical/mental health professionals will be participating in a series of three Summit meetings scheduled throughout the fall. Participants in this groundbreaking leadership conference include:

* Meredith Wagner, Vice President of Public Affairs, Lifetime Television
* Laysha Ward, Vice President, Community Relations, Target
* Patrick Gaston, President, Verizon Foundation
* Sheila Garcia, Associate Director, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
* Dr. Scott McConnell, Director, Center for Early Education and Development, University of Minnesota
* Joanna Coles, Editor, Marie Claire Magazine

“Despite significant efforts over the past decade to address the problem of domestic violence in our country, 33 million American women continue to experience abuse every year,” said Sheryl Cates, NDVH Chief Executive Officer. “As a society, we can and need to do more. The Summit provides the unique opportunity to not only develop viable solutions for prevention, but importantly, it is the first step in creating a unified national movement to end domestic violence.”

Over one-fourth of American women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Since its inception in 1996, the Hotline has become the vital link to safety for victims of domestic violence and their families. Today, Hotline advocates answer an average of 17,000 calls per month from women, men and children across the nation. As public awareness grows about domestic violence, the Hotline has seen a significant increase in call volume, with calls to the Hotline increasing by 200 percent over the last ten years.

Following the day-long national Summit, the NDVH will host a celebratory gala at Union Station in honor of the Hotline’s 10th anniversary and to recognize individual and corporate leadership in the movement to end domestic violence. Hosted by Court TV’s Catherine Crier, this year’s honorees include actress Salma Hayek, domestic abuse survivor Yvette Cade and Steve Largent, President and Chief Executive Officer of CTIA¬-The Wireless Foundation.

Target is the lead sponsor for both the Decade for Change Summit and the 10th Anniversary Gala, along with Allstate Insurance, Verizon, Curves and American Happenings.

“Target is proud to partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline on the commemoration of the Hotline’s tenth anniversary,” said Laysha Ward, vice president, community relations, Target. “By working with the Hotline, we are helping to strengthen families, prevent violence and abuse and save lives.”

About the NDVH
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) is a project of the Texas Council on Family Violence in Austin, Texas. NDVH provides empowerment-based crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence and their friends and families. The Hotline serves as the only center in the nation with access to over 4,800 shelters and domestic violence programs across the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NDVH operates 24 hours each day, 365 days every year, in over 140 different languages, with a TTY line available for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing.  All calls to NDVH are anonymous.

About Target

Minneapolis-based Target serves guests at 1,443 stores in 47 states nationwide by delivering today’s best retail trends at affordable prices. Target is committed to providing guests with great design through innovative products, in-store experiences and community partnerships. Whether visiting a Target store or shopping online at, guests enjoy a fun and convenient shopping experience with access to thousands of unique and highly differentiated items. Target (NYSE:TGT) gives back more than $2 million a week to its local communities through grants and special programs. Since opening its first store in 1962, Target has partnered with nonprofit organizations, guests and team members to help meet community needs.