Heymann & Fletcher

Domestic violence survivors benefit from matched savings program

People in an abusive relationship often feel as though they have no way out. Not only does their partner often emotionally manipulate them in order to make them feel as though they can't leave, experts also say that abusive partners may control or abuse their victim's finances, making it difficult to walk away. New Jersey families may be interested in the story of one out-of-state coalition, working to combat financial abuse, as it helps survivors of domestic violence improve their financial situation.

The coalition utilizes both financial counseling and a program where recipients' savings accounts are matched dollar for dollar. The hope is that survivors will have increased independence and give them more long-term financial stability. Classes for financial literacy include how to save for retirement or purchase a home, though organizers acknowledge that some survivors don't have the means to reach that far with their finances initially. Advisers are instructed to consider each recipient on a case-by-case basis and work with what they have.

This specific program is statewide, which is different from others that only serve certain cities or counties. The organizers hope that this will enable them to help more people. Last year, almost 1,200 people participated in the program, with around 100 making use of the matched savings initiative. Organizers say that it was life-changing for one woman who could have lost her housing because she didn't know her abuser hadn't been paying rent. She was able to avoid eviction and continue saving money.

A program like this one is just one way for a person to leave a domestic violence situation. Those here in New Jersey who have questions about what options might be available to them may want to talk with an attorney. A legal professional can help a victim file a restraining order or determine the next steps to take on the pathway to a new life.

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