By Kelly King, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
An important, often overlooked, area for survivors in recovery can be their financial situation. Finances can be important to consider since they might determine access to resources (such as medical appointments or child care) and relate to feelings of empowerment and self-reliance. Researchers with connections to the See the Triumph campaign set out to listen to and reflect the experiences of survivors of IPV in terms of their finances. Survivors in our study estimated their costs for physical health care (visits to doctors, filling prescriptions, etc.) with an average of $13,990.68, an average of $8,662.64 for mental health care (meeting with counselors, psychiatrists, etc.) and $3,408.33 for cognitive health care (testing, etc.). Survivors also described their experiences of these costs, financial abuse and the challenges of rebuilding their lives. This blog post describes some of their observations and might suggest areas to consider as you pursue financial well-being.
Many survivors noted work-related difficulties, including trouble finding or keeping jobs. For some people, this trouble was related to their abusive partner’s pattern of controlling their ability to work. For others, working was difficult because they were also managing health care appointments, dealing with mental or physical health symptoms, attending court dates, finding affordable childcare and concerned for their safety. Difficulty with work can mean that you do not feel financially independent and secure. Working can also be an important way to feel empowered and active for people who are able to choose jobs that fit their personal strengths.
Costs from legal fees, childcare, health care and debt/bankruptcy were other burdens that survivors in our study discussed. Many people described feeling overwhelmed by the costs and identified whether they were able to cover these costs or if they turned to government assistance or help from their social circles. Unfortunately, 74.4% of survivors indicated that they did not access victim’s compensation (reimbursement for legal, physical, mental, and/or cognitive costs). This might be an option for survivors facing large costs, and varies by state and community.
In addition, survivors highlighted the quality of life costs that come up in the aftermath of abuse. Whether survivors are dealing with physical injuries, or feelings of anxiety or depression, these symptoms lower their ability to enjoy life or feel secure. Some survivors expressed concern that this would never change whereas others noted some positive developments as more time passed and they continued to rebuild their lives- seeking counseling, support from friends and family, and getting involved in new lines of work and hobbies.
Survivors demonstrated the many ways that IPV can impact your financial situation. It is our hope that this information might help to show you that it is normal to deal with financial difficulties following IPV. You are not alone in this struggle and there are resources! If you are in need of resources in this area, you might begin your search at http://www.clicktoempower.org/.
Kelly King, MS, NCC, LPCA is a doctoral student in UNC Greensboro’s department of Counseling and Educational Development. Kelly has a background and interest in feminist theory and Women and Gender Studies. Kelly has completed research and advocacy projects related to teen dating violence, survivors of IPV as social justice advocates and the financial impacts of IPV.