By Loretta L. WortersVice President, Media Relations, Triple-I
Telecommuting, while providing respite for many from long commutes and rising gas prices, can increase the vulnerability of victims of domestic violence. Increased risks involve not only emotional and physical but also financial abuse – often one of the main reasons why victims cannot leave or have to return to the abusive relationship.
Cases of domestic violence increased between 25 percent and 35 percent globally when the pandemic began in 2020 and show little sign of abating, according to American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Financial dependence is a common tool that addicts use to gain power and control in a relationship. Victims continue to be isolated, exploited and prevented from developing the resilience needed to break free and achieve independence.
Without financial or insurance knowledge, it can be nearly impossible for victims to rent an apartment or buy a car to escape an abuser—especially for black women, who are disproportionately affected.
In support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Triple-I offers five financial strategies victims can use to protect themselves financially before and after leaving an abusive relationship:
- Secure financial records, including insurance;
- Knowing where the victim stands financially;
- Building a financial safety net;
- Make necessary changes to insurance policies; and
- Maintaining good credit, which can also affect access to insurance.
Credit-based insurance scores are confidential numerical ratings based, in whole or in part, on a consumer̵7;s credit information. Many insurance companies use these scores—combined with other factors—to help underwrite and price policies, especially for homeowner’s and personal auto insurance. Actuarial studies find a strong correlation between how people manage their financial affairs and the likelihood that they will file insurance claims.
Abuse victims often have bad credit for a variety of reasons. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work each year, at a cost exceeding $8.3 billion annually. As many as 60 percent of victims lose their jobs for reasons stemming from the abuse, and the amount of abuse women will endure correlates statistically with their degree of economic dependence.
“Manipulation of money and other financial resources is one of the most prominent forms of coercive control and yet many victims do not even realize they are being controlled,” said Ruth Glenn, president and CEO of NCADV and author of the memoir, Everything I never dreamed of, which describes her struggle against abuse, violence and attempted murder. “That’s why it’s so important for victims to keep their checks, bank cards and insurance in a safe place known only to them — and when they leave the abusive relationship, that they take precautions to stay protected through an address privacy program .”
Those in crisis and need immediate assistance, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
“The financial education provided by the Insurance Information Institute can be a lifesaver and will make a real difference to many, many people,” Glenn said.
Other insurance industry resources for victims of domestic violence include The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation – which has volunteered at Mosaic House, a shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence and human trafficking in North Texas, and made grants to organizations such as Dawn Rising, Human Options, Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, Center for Safety and Change, Women Rising, the WINGS program and Sarah’s Inn—and the Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse, the longest-running national program focused on ending domestic violence through financial services for survivors.