September 28, 2017

How to identify and help victims of domestic financial abuse

The National Network to End Domestic Violence and Allstate Foundation share tools and resources available for victims and advocates who support them.

Victims of financial abuse suffer unseen wounds. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse works to shine a light on this type of domestic violence so victims can receive the support they need. Photo by Andrew Neel via Unsplash

Financial abuse leaves no scars, but its effects can be just as damaging as physical abuse. It’s one of the main reasons victims of domestic violence can’t escape their abuser; they don’t have the financial means to break free.

Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has worked to support victims and raise awareness of domestic violence and financial abuse. It has invested more than $55 million to help nonprofit organizations empower women to break free from abuse through Allstate Foundation Purple Purse. (The Renewal Project is made possible by Allstate.)

Kim Pentico is the director of the economic justice program at National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). She helps train domestic violence advocates who support survivors when they arrive at a shelter or a domestic violence organization. We asked her to share some of her insights below:

What qualifies as domestic financial abuse?

Domestic Violence is a pattern of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse used to gain and maintain power and control within a current or former intimate relationship. Financial abuse is a common tactic used by perpetrators and can include but is not limited to: controlling how money is spent; withholding money or “giving an allowance”; withholding basic living resources, medication, or food; not allowing or forcing their partner to work or earn money; stealing their partner’s identify, money, or property and/or ruining credit.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is answered 24/7 and can help victims find local resources: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

What are the signs of possible domestic financial abuse?

  • If one person is stealing or hiding money from their partner
  • If both parties don’t having equal access to funds
  • If one person makes all financial decisions
  • If a partner overuses credit cards or refuses to pay bills
  • If someone forces their partner to turn over funds or benefits

What is the first step one can take to help someone who they think may be a victim?

Express concern; provide local resources; and let them know that they are there if or when they need something.

What resources are available for victims of domestic financial abuse?

What are some tips to help victims regain control over their finances?

  • Consider monitoring your credit report.
  • Create a realistic budget…and stick to it; a good budget will include small unexpected expenses that can sometimes derail our best intentions.
  • Work to pay down and off debt.
  • Set financial goals and reward yourself as you reach them.

The Allstate Foundation Moving Ahead Curriculum offers in-depth training for survivors and advocate trainers. Resources are available for download in both English and Spanish.

Learn more about Allstate Foundation Purple Purse® Challenge here.

Find a domestic violence shelter in your area at

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

The Renewal Project is made possible by Allstate.

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.
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