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Grant Helps Domestic-Violence Survivors Counter Financial Abuse

A new $500,000 federal grant will help more domestic violence victims in Kentucky afford safe housing. (@TatianaMara/Twenty20)
A new $500,000 federal grant will help more domestic violence victims in Kentucky afford safe housing. (@TatianaMara/Twenty20)
March 18, 2019

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – A shelter in Bowling Green will be able to help more women fleeing abusive relationships afford safe housing, thanks to a grant of more than $500,000 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Tori Henninger, executive director of Barren River Area Safe Space, or BRASS, says various forms of financial abuse and previous property damage, or eviction from violence in the home, often accompany intimate partner violence and can make it impossible for survivors to qualify for rental housing.

Henninger says the grant money from HUD will be used to help pay security deposits and rent, preventing many women and children in Kentucky from becoming homeless.

"Something that a lot of people don't realize, is the immensity of financial abuse that occurs within intimate partner violence,” she states. “A lot of victims or survivors, they might have bad credit – so, their abuser may have opened credit cards in their names and not paid them."

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, financial abuse occurs in 99 percent of domestic violence cases, but one study found that 78 percent of Americans don't recognize financial abuse as a form of intimate partner abuse.

Last year, the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence helped more than 4,000 survivors find housing.

Henninger says the prospect of being homeless is just one of the economic factors that keeps many women from leaving an abusive partner, or force them to return to the relationship.

"And it's probably one of the things that keeps a person feeling most stuck, because there is at least a consistency and knowledge of knowing where you're going to sleep that night, where you're clothes are,” she states. “How are you going to wash your clothes? Do you have food? Those are all things that would tie you to an abusive relationship – just because otherwise, you know, the unknown factor might be scarier."

Henninger adds every area development district in Kentucky has a domestic violence shelter program, so any individual fleeing abuse shouldn't be more than one hour away from services.

BRASS is one of 15 statewide member programs run by the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY