Ensuring Domestic Violence Survivors’ Safety – Center for American Progress

Moreover, abusers may perpetuate their partner’s economic insecurity as a mechanism for control. This practice—known as economic or financial abuse—involves situations in which an abuser controls or limits a survivor’s financial independence, ability to work, or access to economic resources, including by stealing or withholding a survivor’s money or forcing nonconsensual, credit-related transactions.26 During this pandemic, financial abuse may involve an abuser withholding government-issued money—for example, the recently issued stimulus checks—especially if those payments were issued to both parties based on a jointly filed tax return. Economic abuse by a partner is a common issue faced by people with disabilities, who may depend on their partner for financial management or support in accessing banking or financial services.27

Additional economic and health effects of DV on survivors during the coronavirus pandemic

The need to remain at home and practice social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, as well as historically high rates of unemployment, has exacerbated rates and experiences of DV, putting survivors at further risk of both violence and economic insecurity.28 Existing supports such as DV programs and shelters that can otherwise improve survivors’ economic outcomes may themselves lack requisite funding in this moment, leading to some shelters limiting their maximum capacity or reducing their services.29 Some states, including California, Illinois, and New Hampshire, have undertaken essential, progressive efforts to significantly fund DV programs and shelters. These efforts include specifying that DV crisis center funding can be used to provide direct financial support to survivors; increasing funding to state coalitions and service providers; and offering free accommodations and transportation to survivors, among other things.30 As an important first step on the federal level, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included $45 million for DV services funded through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act and $2 million to further fund the National Domestic Violence Hotline.31

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