Economic insecurity has devastating consequences on the lives of survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Abuse can impose significant expenses on survivors, including physical and mental health care costs, lost wages, safety planning, and relocation costs. Furthermore, economic abuse can result in life-long consequences due to job loss, debt, damaged credit, or coercion into crime. When combined with today’s high cost of living, shortage of good jobs, and diminished safety net, these impacts of abuse severely limit survivors’ options and ability to achieve safety and justice.
The Economic Security for Survivors (ESS) project seeks to build, protect, and restore the economic security of survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence, and stalking so that they may be safe and free of abuse. Domestic and sexual violence programs, the justice system, and communities play distinct and important roles in supporting survivors’ independence and recovery from the costs of abuse and these groups must recognize and respond to the economic barriers and costs survivors face. The Economic Security for Survivors project—formerly of Wider Opportunities for Women and now housed within IWPR’s Health & Safety initiative—identifies barriers that threaten survivor economic security and safety and offers solutions based on data and proven best practices. The project provides justice system and community professionals with strategies, tools, education, and training to improve how policies and programs respond to the economic consequences of abuse and support survivors’ economic security.
The ESS project:
■ Educates criminal justice professionals about the intersections of economic security and safety and promotes practices that reduce barriers to victim safety and economic justice;
■ Works to align legal processes and identify of resources to reduce the cost of participating in the justice system;
■ Promotes economic relief to ensure survivors’ independence and recovery;
■ Develops curricula and tools that victim advocates can use to integrate economic empowerment and employment support into core services so that survivors can better access good jobs and build financial independence; and
■ Engages diverse community partners–including employers, educational institutions and other community organizations–to foster an environment of protection and support.