Survivors of Domestic Violence Strive for Economic Independence
FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky's statewide coalition of 15 domestic violence programs is pushing for financial independence for the women it serves. The help can be for a goal as big as buying a car or house, or as simple as finding out a credit score and how to make it better. The Economic Empowerment Project helped Patricia Hamlin, Somerset, buy a car, which she says is a necessity for her to get to work.
"It's just been a help - it's given me freedom back."
Hamlin became a survivor of domestic violence in 2009. She opened a special matched savings account, known as an IDA (Individual Development Account), to purchase the car.
Mary O'Doherty, assistant director of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, says economic independence is crucial for anyone trying to pull away from an abuser.
"If we can help survivors feel confident about their future and help them feel like they can become economically self-sufficient, they're much more likely to leave their abusers, they're much more likely to stay away from their abusers."
Hamlin admits she still has doubts about her independence, but says all the economic advice and assistance has boosted her self-confidence.
"It just helps you remember you've done this, so you can take the next step and do better for yourself as far as economics and the whole nine yards."
The project is expected to help more than 1,000 survivors in 2013.
The Allstate Foundation has given the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association a $120,000 grant. O'Doherty calls it a "critical funder" of the project.
"We have been able to do our most creative and our most innovative work."
O'Doherty says Kentucky has the only IDA car-purchasing program in the country focused solely on survivors of domestic violence.