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Media Contact: Erin Gaffney
Urban Resource Institute, with Coalition on Gender-Based Violence, Releases Groundbreaking Economic Abuse Report Urging Action from City, State and Federal Government
First-of-its-kind report details prevalence of economic abuse among survivors of domestic violence and provides policy roadmap for elected officials
New York, NY – September 26, 2022 – On the eve of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October 2022, Urban Resource Institute (URI), along with the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice (CSAJ) and a broad coalition of survivor-centered, gender-based violence prevention advocates, released a groundbreaking new report Reinvesting in Economic Justice, Equity, and Solidarity for Survivors in New York City, detailing the economic struggles that survivors of domestic violence face and providing policy makers with a series of ready-to-implement policy recommendations designed to remove many of those barriers.
In addition to physical abuse, domestic violence also includes emotional and economic abuse. In fact, more than 98% domestic violence survivors have reported experiencing financial abuse, which includes but is not limited to lack of access to their income, being restrained from working, high debt loads, coerced debt and damaged credit that may result from that abuse. Adding urgency to the issue, financial dependence is a leading barrier to fleeing to safety and a key reason why many survivors are forced to return to their abusers.
Despite the pervasiveness of economic abuse and coerced debt, in particular, survivors face unique and significant obstacles in obtaining temporary and permanent housing, public assistance and other government resources, securing employment, and achieving financial independence and creditworthiness as a result of the abuse.
“Our notions of safety must evolve so that when we think of safety for survivors of domestic violence, we also consider financial safety,” said Teal Inzunza, Program Director of the URI Economic Empowerment Program and one of the report’s co-authors. “You cannot have physical safety and a stable future without financial security and independence. Many survivors cite high debt loads, lack of access to safe housing, and scarce financial resources, including public benefits, as major obstacles to leaving their abusers. Breaking financial barriers to safety and healing will support survivors seeking safety, whatever that means to them, and begin the journey to build a stable future for themselves and their families.”
Unfortunately, many of the government systems, even those that are specifically designed to administer services and provide benefits to domestic violence survivors, are not designed to reflect the economic realities they face. The report details the shortcomings of these systems, and provides concrete steps that policy makers can take to implement the proposals and begin to make the system work effectively to meet the needs of survivors and their families.
“Among URI’s comprehensive programs and services for our clients, the Economic Empowerment Program provides the resources, tools, training, and work experience to build pathways to financial freedom and a stable, sustainable future free of abuse,” said Nathaniel Fields, CEO of Urban Resource Institute. “URI is committed to removing barriers to safety and healing for the families we serve, and we are proud to be working alongside coalition partners to provide actionable steps our lawmakers can take today to improve the lives of survivors of domestic violence and their families. I thank Teal Inzunza, the Program Director of the URI Economic Empowerment Program, for her relentless pursuit of economic justice for domestic violence survivors.”
The report outlines four key policy priorities and urges service agencies and elected officials to invest in and engage survivors in economic policy reform, including around coerced debt, housing equity, access to public benefits and engaging in solidarity economies.
A few of the key recommendations:
The report was developed with direct input from survivors of domestic violence, who helped craft the recommendations. The report was co-authored by advocates and legal and policy experts from the following organizations:
About Urban Resource Institute (URI):
Urban Resource Institute (URI) transforms the lives of domestic violence survivors and homeless families by empowering individuals, families, and communities, particularly communities of color and other vulnerable populations, to end cycles of domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, and trauma by increasing safety and resiliency. As the largest provider of domestic violence shelter services in the US and a leading provider of homeless services, URI’s programs impact more than 40,000 individuals annually through prevention, intervention, education, and direct services in both residential and non-residential settings in New York. URI is recognized as a thought-leader with influence across the U.S. and beyond. For more information, visit www.urinyc.org or follow on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, call NYC’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-621-HOPE or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.