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KY Domestic Violence Survivors Gain Personal Finance Savvy

May 12, 2014

ASHLAND, Ky. - According to experts, after surviving domestic violence the next big step on a victim's path to recovery is self-sufficiency. It's a path that thousands of survivors across Kentucky are following, thanks in part to support from the Allstate Foundation.

One example is Parthenia Ferguson, who left an abusive husband two years ago and lived for awhile at Safe Harbor, an emergency shelter in Ashland. Ferguson says economic empowerment training has helped her forge a new life for herself and her two children.

"In my abusive relationship, you know, I couldn't save money because he always wanted it. But I've learned to put money in a savings account," Ferguson says.

Kentucky's statewide network of 15 domestic violence programs uses the grant money from the Allstate Foundation to coach survivors on financial topics such as creating a budget, opening a bank account and improving their credit scores.

April Rodehaver, an advocate at the shelter where Ferguson lived for four months, says most domestic violence survivors are simply not financially stable when they flee their abuser.

"It gives the ladies an opportunity to take back control of their lives, and helps them get everything together to be financially successful," Rodehaver says.

The Allstate Foundation grants helped more than 1,130 survivors in Kentucky, last year alone. The Foundation has put just over $134,000 into this year's efforts.

Two years ago, Ferguson opened a special matched-savings account known as an Individual Development Account (IDA). The $1,000 she saved was matched with $4,000 from the IDA. She says this is now the down payment for a house she has under contract.

"Around June, I should be in my brand new home. It's my very first home, for me and my children, that we have worked really, really hard for," Ferguson says.

Domestic violence survivors can use the match money for other purposes, as well, including education, opening a small business or buying a car.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY