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KY Domestic Violence Survivors Get Car-Buying Help

April 6, 2011

GEORGETOWN, Ky. - One way to get survivors of domestic violence on the road to self-sufficiency is to get them on the road - literally - with a vehicle to get to school or work. That's why Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky has awarded the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA) $20,000 to help domestic-violence survivors save enough money to buy a car or truck.

Lack of transportation is an obstacle to gaining independence, especially for rural survivors, says Mary O'Doherty, economic empowerment director for KDVA, but help is available through the matched-savings program.

"We match domestic-violence survivors' savings one-to-one, up to $2,000. That means that if someone completes our program, they'll have $4,000 to purchase a car."

The KDVA car savings program began last year. So far, six women have purchased cars and 61 are enrolled.

One of the first domestic violence survivors to be helped by the program is Tara Clevinger, 42, a mother of two who now attends Somerset Community College en route to earning a real-estate license. The Somerset shelter, Bethany House, also helped her find an apartment and rent assistance.

"I would probably be dead if it wasn't for places like Bethany House. And, as for the opportunities like Toyota and KDVA have provided, these women wouldn't have any other means, any other way."

A key reason women stay in abusive relationships is their financial ties to their abusers, O'Doherty says, and the car-savings program helps survivors get a foothold on freedom. The Car-IDA program is funded with private dollars, and O'Doherty views Toyota's contribution as priceless.

"This $20,000 will enable us to help 10 more women if they all save the maximum of $2,000, and I guess it really shows that Toyota understands why addressing domestic violence is so important for low-income women who are trapped in the cycle of violence. "

KDVA's 15 statewide shelters also help abuse survivors become homeowners, advance their education, start a small business, build credit and pay emergency expenses through no-interest microloans.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY