Today marks the end of Domestic Violence Awareness month. October has, since 1981, been the month that domestic abuse survivors celebrate the incredible strength required to leave a violent relationship or marriage. It also serves as a time for hope as millions more are trying to escape, sometimes with the knowledge of knowing a failed escape effort could mean a loss of their lives. Finally, it also serves as a time to remember those who lost their fight to escape a violent partner. Communities come together to raise awareness, hold vigils and ensure public awareness programs are hitting their mark.
Psychology of Domestic Abuse
It can be puzzling for those who have never suffered abuse to understand why it’s so difficult for some victims to leave those who are inflicting the brutality of beatings, stabbings, shootings and threats. It’s difficult to define the level of fear abuse delivers, but it’s another reason why this is such an important time of the year. So, as we prepare to enter into the new month and the holidays, we thought this would be a good time to lend our support to those who are plotting their escapes with important financial considerations that can play a huge role in whether they are successful in their efforts. There are many resources available – from the Obama Administration right on down to community shelters and plenty of grants, too.
President Obama directed federal agencies to develop new policies designed to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence. What emerged with an all inclusive effort designed to help women as they sought to help themselves and their children. One of those efforts is found in the Affordable Care Act. It’s given women, through their health care policies, access to domestic violence screening. This puts access to medical care in the laps of those who need it with no co payments or deductibles that those victims must pay. They’re also provided access to prescriptions, such as antibiotics and anti anxiety medications.
Not only that, but President Obama also directed the Justice Department to develop a new project aimed at reducing domestic violence homicides through screening, linking victims with services and developing high-risk teams. These teams are specially trained to handle domestic violence and have made great strides in this important area of our society.
But there are other considerations, too. Victims are often cut off from the finances in their homes. It’s a power play abusers use to keep their spouses or partners tied to them. It makes it nearly impossible for those wishing to leave to do so.
Financial instability is one of the largest obstacles for a survivor seeking safety. Being able to survive financially without the abuser can pose challenges,
said Leisa Wiseman, spokeswoman for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Here are a few tips for those who are considering leaving their abusers. Many women find themselves having to escape immediately, while others carefully plan and are able to begin moving things out of the house that won’t raise questions. Either way, the tips that follow can not only cover your financial needs, but they can empower you too by removing the dependence an abuser demanded.
You should be collecting financial records – provided it’s safe to do so. Those records should include any bank statements, retirement statements, credit card statements and other records surrounding your monthly financial obligations. Other documents include birth certificates, school records and insurance policies. If you’re concerned your spouse may notice them missing before you can leave, you should at least make copies of everything.
You might want to consider opening a PO box. This helps ensure that you receive mail that, if delivered to your home, could tip off the abuser of your plans. It’s an important part of getting away without raising suspicions.
The 2009 CARD Act initially made it difficult for non-working spouses to secure a credit card in their name. Revisions have been made, making it a more viable option for those in jeopardy. If you’re leaving with your ATM cards, checkbooks and credit cards, be sure to change passwords and PIN numbers as soon as you leave the relationship. Remember, too, you’ll need to keep current with the payments. The last thing you want to do is eliminate that option because of late payments and fees. You might also consider changing your cell number.
If possible, you should be stashing cash. You might even consider finding a new home ahead of time. Often, landlords and leasing agencies will allow you to place a deposit to hold an apartment or rental house for a couple of weeks as you begin the slow and steady process of moving out. Also, this might be a good time to request a copy of your credit report so that you are realistic in what you can qualify for in terms of loans or credit cards. Talk to your banker or credit card company to see what you can do to either secure a loan, skip a payment or increase the credit line, even if you’re unsure about what your credit scores could qualify you for. It’s the only way to know – and it just might provide a solution for your dilemma.
Remember, too the most dangerous time for an abuse victim is when he or she tries to leave. That’s why it’s important to leave when the spouse is not home. In fact, the more time you can put between your move and the abuser’s return home, the better the head start you’ll gain. Victims die every day and prisons are filled with abusers who insist, “I didn’t mean to kill her/him”. Yet, there are three women who die every single day because of domestic violence.
As the government continues to strengthen various laws, including the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, remember the goal – whether you escape with cash, credit cards or just the clothes on your back, your top priority is to find a space place for you and your children.
Finally, for those wishing to help, you might consider donating some of your rewards points if your credit card allows you to do so.
If you know someone who’s trapped in one of these devastating relationships, try to be a friend and keep the lines of communication open, too. So do you have any financial tips for victims who are considering leaving an abusive spouse or partner? Perhaps you’ve lived through it yourself. Let us know what advice you would offer someone attempting to escape the violence. One in four women will become domestic violence victims – which means it’s very likely you know someone who is in a violent relationship.
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