Economic abuse is an often overlooked form of domestic violence that exists in approximately 98% of all domestic violence situations. In instances of economic abuse, an abuser exerts control over their partner by making or attempting to make them financially dependent. Abusers often run their partner’s credit score into the ground, forbid them from working, or restrict their funds in an effort to control their behavior, limit their independence, and prevent them from leaving. The victim frequently feels pressured to endure the abusive relationship in order to avoid facing poverty and becoming homeless.

Urban Resource Institute (URI) has several economic empowerment programs aimed at helping women become self-sufficient and recover from economic abuse. Survivors in URI’s shelters work with program specialists to formulate goals for their education and employment and take the first steps toward meeting their goals. As a result of the abuse they have endured, survivors may have never been allowed to think about their ideal careers or received support in reaching their goals. Survivors report that having access to these resources gives them unprecedented confidence in their abilities and future. URI’s Legal Education and Advocacy Program (LEAP) is also able to assist survivors in addressing credit and debt issues that could have a long-term impact on their financial stability and ability to obtain permanent housing.

A key element of URI’s economic empowerment program is the Working Internship Network (WIN). WIN gives participants an opportunity to learn marketable skills and gain experience in professional work environments with the ultimate goal of empowering survivors to maintain their independence and freedom from abuse.

Since 1998, WIN has successfully provided URI residents with valuable job training and internship opportunities in a variety of work settings. Participants are placed into internships based on their skills and interests and receive ongoing support and guidance throughout their internship as well as a stipend, free Metrocard, and referrals to other non-profits that assist in providing people with professional clothing. WIN has placed participants in a wide variety of internships with our agency in the areas of administration, finance, housekeeping, children’s services, and marketing.

The program also provides residents with innovative job-skill development services, including career-readiness and financial literacy workshops. Additionally, WIN includes career counseling, vocational and psychosocial assessments, job-readiness training, and resume-preparation assistance to help survivors of domestic violence secure the education and skills necessary to begin achieving financial freedom.

WIN in Action: A Case Study

Desire (alias) is a 38-year- old mother who resided at one of URI’s shelters with her two children. She came to the US from West Africa with her husband. The relationship became abusive, and she suffered physical, verbal, and emotional abuse from him for years before coming to URI. In spite of all that she went through she always maintained motivated. Joining WIN provided Desire with the opportunity to gain valuable job skills to supplement her Bachelor’s degree. WIN placed her in an Administrative Internship where she had the opportunity to develop new skills and put some money aside. Since graduating from WIN, Desire has secured permanent housing and employment.

Our Partners*

*represents FY16 only