Posted: August 6th, 2022

how to format a synthesis matrix

how should a synthesis matrix be formatted?

Writing A Literature Review and

Using a Synthesis Matrix

My professor says I have to write a literature review, what do I do?

Well, to begin, you have to know that when writing a literature review, the goal of the researcher is to determine the current
state of knowledge about a particular topic by asking, “What do we know or not know about this issue?” In conducting this type of
research, it is imperative to examine several different sources to determine where the knowledge overlaps and where it falls short. A
literature review requires a synthesis of different subtopics to come to a greater understanding of the state of knowledge on a larger
issue. It works very much like a jigsaw puzzle. The individual pieces (arguments) must be put together in order to reveal the whole
(state of knowledge).

So basically I just read the articles and summarize each one separately?

No, a literature review is not a summary. Rather than merely presenting a summary of each source, a literature review should
be organized according to each subtopic discussed about the larger topic. For example, one section of a literature review might read
“Researcher A suggests that X is true. Researcher B also argues that X is true, but points out that the effects of X may be different
from those suggested by Researcher A.” It is clear that subtopic X is the main idea covered in these sentences. Researchers A and B
agree that X is true, but they disagree on X’s effects. There is both agreement and disagreement, but what links the two arguments is
the fact that they both concern X.

This sounds like a lot of information, how can I keep it organized?

Because a literature review is NOT a summary of these different sources, it can be very difficult to keep your research
organized. It is especially difficult to organize the information in a way that makes the writing process simpler. One way that seems
particularly helpful in organizing literature reviews is the synthesis matrix. The synthesis matrix is a chart that allows a researcher to
sort and categorize the different arguments presented on an issue. Across the top of the chart are the spaces to record sources, and
along the side of the chart are the spaces to record the main points of argument on the topic at hand. As you examine your first source,
you will work vertically in the column belonging to that source, recording as much information as possible about each significant idea
presented in the work. Follow a similar pattern for your following sources. As you find information that relates to your already
identified main points, put it in the pertaining row. In your new sources, you will also probably find new main ideas that you need to
add to your list at the left. You now have a completed matrix!

2

As you write your review, you will work horizontally in the row belonging to each point discussed. As you combine the
information presented in each row, you will begin to see each section of your paper taking shape. Remember, some of the sources
may not cover all of the main ideas listed on the left, but that can be useful also. The gaps on your chart could provide clues about the
gaps in the current state of knowledge on your topic.

CREATING YOUR SYNTHESIS MATRIX

It is probably best to begin your chart by labeling the columns both horizontally and vertically. The sample chart below
illustrates how to do this.

Topic: ______________________________________

Source #1 Source #2 Source #3 Source #4
Main Idea
A

Main Idea
B

Label the columns across the top of your chart with the author’s last name or with a few keywords from the title of the work. Then
label the sides of the chart with the main ideas that your sources discuss about your topic. As you read each source, make notes in the
appropriate column about the information discussed in the work, as shown in the following chart.

3

Topic: Women in WWII

Cornelsen Stewart Bruley Scott
Alteration of
women’s
roles
because of
WWII

– Women accredited the
WASP program for opening
new doors, challenging
stereotypes, and proving that
women were as capable as
men (p. 113)
– Women could compete with
men as equals in the sky
because of their exemplary
performance (p. 116)
– WASP created opportunities
for women that had never
previously existed (p. 112)
– Women’s success at flying
aircrafts “marked a pivotal
step towards breaking the
existing gender barrier” (p.
112)

– WAAC (Women’s Army
Auxiliary Corp) was 1st
chance for women to serve in
army, given full army status in
1943 as WAC (p. 28)
– Needs of the war were so
great that women’s traditional
social roles were ignored (p.
30)
– Military women paid well
for the time period and given
benefits if they became
pregnant (p. 32)
– The 1940’s brought more
opportunities to women than
ever before (p. 26)

-Women given equal
opportunities (p. 223)
– Women joined workforce as
a break from the ordinary to
help the war (p. 220)
– Unconscious decision to
cross into male-dominated
roles (p. 221)
– Seized these new
opportunities to bring about
change (p. 230)

– Women born in the 1920’s
found new doors open to them
where they once would have
encountered brick walls (p.
526)
-Even women not directly
involved in the war were
changing mentally by being
challenged to expand their
horizons because of the
changing world around them
(p. 562)
– War also brought intellectual
expansion to many people (p.
557)

Hardships
and
oppositions
women
faced

– “From the outset male pilots
resented women’s presence in
a traditionally male military
setting” (p. 1113-4)
– “The WASP were routinely
assigned inferior planes that
were later found to have been
improperly maintained” (p.
114)
– discrimination against
WASP at every level of
military service, women were
only paid 2/3 of what men
were for doing identical tasks
(p. 114)

– Women in the military given
extensive physical and mental
tests, but still discriminated
against, ridiculed, and
considered inferior to men (p.
29)

– Women given unskilled
labor positions by government
because only seen as
temporary workers, therefore
no reason to train them (p.
221-2)
– Women given less
significant work and viewed
as less intelligent and
physically able (p. 224)
-“The Church-Bliss diary
reveals how dilution
arrangements…ensured that
women working in male
preserves were prevented

4

Cornelsen Stewart Bruley Scott
– “In the belief that women
were emotionally and
physically fragile, the military
questioned women’s
capabilities to fly an aircraft”
(p. 114-5), regardless of their
training or aptitude
– WASP’s not granted veteran
status until 1979 (p. 115)

from achieving any sort of
equality” (p. 230)
– more traditionally male jobs
resisted the integration of
women workers, while other
industries were less
resistant… but in most all
cases women were considered
temporary workers (p. 221)
– Equal pay rarely given to
women, even though women
did the same work (p. 221)
– Women occasionally found
their way to positions of
importance, but were always
treated as inferior (p. 226-8)
– After the war, women were
the first to be let go because
of their temporary status (p.
230)
– Women in the workforce
also faced discrimination from
labor unions (p. 226)

Opposition:
WWII did
NOT effect
women

– Women put in untraditional
roles during/because of the
war, but back to previous
subservient roles after the war
(p. 35)

– Women were not affected
because they still remained in
subordinate positions after the
war (p. 217)

After your chart is complete, notice patterns of information. You may find that your sources, at times, discuss very similar
material, or that they sometimes deal with completely different aspects of your topic. These patterns can be useful in creating a thesis
statement that can guide your writing and keep you focused as you begin your draft.

5

WRITING YOUR REVIEW

Here is an example from the literature review: “World War Two and its Effect on Women.” This excerpt synthesizes
information without summarizing.

While the articles used in this research agree that women made many advances during the Word War II period, it is crucial to

realize that not all these changes were welcomed. In most cases women faced discrimination from just about everyone around
them. Women in the workplace were often placed in positions of inferiority or treated as being less physically able to do the
same work the men did. Many women were often not trained because they were viewed as temporary employees who were
only there for the duration of the war (Bruley, 2003, pp.221-222). Women were very rarely given equal pay as men, even
though some of them did the same work. Women in the military faced not only mental abuse but also physical harm from their
male counterparts. According to Cornelsen (2005), there were many instances where female aviators were injured or killed due
to being made to fly ill-maintained aircrafts or aircrafts that had been sabotaged. (p.114)

The sample above is an excellent example of how to synthesize information adequately. Notice how when transitioning from

Bruley to Cornelsen the writer notes not only that the two articles are similar, but also how they are similar. The writer goes into detail
about Bruley’s discussion of women in industry facing discrimination while noting that Stewart deals with prejudice in the military.
The author also transitions well between the Bruley article and the Cornelsen article; rather than summarizing, the author draws
comparisons between the two articles, giving relevant information and at the same time synthesizing the two works.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
This document was created by NC State University Writing and Speaking Tutorial Service Tutors during Fall 2006. Contributors were Laura
Ingram, James Hussey, Michelle Tigani, and Mary Hemmelgarn. Special thanks to Stephanie Huneycutt for providing the sample matrix and
paragraph. http://www.ncsu.edu/tutorial_center/writespeak

Articles/Adams et al, 2020 The Frequency, Nature, and Effects of Coerced Debt Among a National Sample of Women Seeking Help for IPV

https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801219841445

Violence Against Women
2020, Vol. 26(11) 1324 –1342

© The Author(s) 2019
Article reuse guidelines:

sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/1077801219841445

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Research Article

The Frequency, Nature,
and Effects of Coerced Debt
Among a National Sample
of Women Seeking Help for
Intimate Partner Violence

Adrienne E. Adams1, Angela K. Littwin2, and
McKenzie Javorka1

Abstract
This study examines the frequency, nature, and effects of coerced debt, defined as
non-consensual, credit-related transactions that occur in intimate relationships where
one partner uses coercive control to dominate the other. The sample includes 1,823
women who called the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Results suggest that
coerced debt, from both coercive and fraudulent transactions, is a common problem
and is significantly related to control over financial information, credit damage, and
financial dependence on the abuser. This study supports the need for policy reform
and victim services aimed at addressing coerced debt, thereby mitigating a potentially
significant economic barrier to safety.

Keywords
intimate partner violence, economic abuse, coerced debt, financial dependence

Introduction

Researchers estimate that between 94 and 99% of women1 seeking services for inti-
mate partner violence (IPV) have experienced economic abuse (Adams, Sullivan,
Bybee, & Greeson, 2008; Postmus, Plummer, McMahon, Murshid, & Kim, 2011).

1Michigan State University, Lansing, USA
2The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Corresponding Author:

Adrienne E. Adams, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, 316 Physics Rd, East Lansing,
MI 48824, USA.
Email: adamsadr@msu.edu

841445VAWXXX10.1177/1077801219841445Violence Against WomenAdams et al.
research-article2019

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Adams et al. 1325

Economic abuse involves behaviors that control a woman’s ability to acquire, use, or
maintain economic resources, thus threatening her financial security (Adams et al.,
2008). In an effort to exert control, batterers restrict access to economic resources by
interfering with employment, dictating spending, and regulating access to financial
information, among other tactics. Abusers also exert control by exploiting their part-
ners’ resources. For instance, abusers steal their partners’ money or property, “free-
load” by refusing to contribute income to expenses, and generate debt in their partners’
names through fraud or coercion (Adams et al., 2008). This last form of exploitation—
generating debt through fraud or coercion—has been termed “coerced debt,” and
research on this particular pernicious type of economic abuse is in its infancy. In the
first study of coerced debt, Littwin (2012) interviewed lawyers and advocates, estab-
lishing its existence and showing how it operates in a variety of circumstances. The
current study built on Littwin’s original research by examining the frequency, nature,
and consequences of coerced debt from the perspective of survivors, using a sample of
callers to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH).

“Coerced debt” is defined as all non-consensual, credit-related transactions that
occur in an intimate relationship where one partner uses coercive control to dominate
the other partner (Littwin, 2012). Coercive control is the defining characteristic dif-
ferentiating “situational violence,” in which a couple uses violence as a problem-solv-
ing strategy, from IPV involving an underlying dynamic of dominance (M. P. Johnson,
2006; Pence & Dasgupta, 2006; Stark, 2007). In his pioneering book, Coercive
Control, Evan Stark (2007) explains coercive control as the systematic, ongoing use of
violence, intimidation, isolation, and control to restrict the victim’s autonomy. Dutton
and Goodman (2005) explicate the mechanisms of coercive control by describing it as
“a dynamic process linking a demand with a credible threatened negative consequence
for noncompliance” (pp. 746-747). The theory posits that abusers make demands
across diverse domains of their partners’ lives, including personal activities/appear-
ance, social/family life, children, household management, intimate relationship, legal,
immigration, and economic/resources. Consequences for noncompliance include tacit
or explicit threats of physical, psychological, and/or economic harm (Dutton,
Goodman, & Schmidt, 2006). Threats that are deemed credible based on past behavior
compel victims to act in accordance with the demands, subordinating their own inter-
ests, desires, and values. Coercive control is a liberty crime (Stark, 2007). By coer-
cively controlling their partners’ actions, abusers restrict women’s autonomy, freedom,
or space for action (Sharp-Jeffs, Kelly, & Klein, 2017).

According to Littwin (2012), this broader context of coercive control enables abus-
ers to generate debt in their partners’ names through discrete transactions involving
coercion or fraud. Using coercive control, an abuser creates an environment in which
refusing a demand or questioning behavior is dangerous. If “asked” to assume sole
responsibility for a lease or utility service, sign for a loan, take out a credit card, or buy
an item on credit, the victim does so or risks harm (coercive transactions). If he uses
her personal information to take out credit in her name without her knowledge (fraud-
ulent transition) and she suspects or discovers the debt, confronting him or reporting
the fraud—as one might do in a non-abusive relationship—means risking harm

1326 Violence Against Women 26(11)

(Littwin, 2012). This dynamic was captured in a recent qualitative study of economic
abuse in which women reported that they “felt powerless over an abuser’s financial
behavior due to the fear and threat of reprisal” (Sanders, 2015, p. 19).

Evidence of the existence of coerced debt has emerged in several existing studies.
In a qualitative study of 187 women stalked by former intimate partners, Brewster
(2003) found that 22.5% had abusive partners who exerted financial control over
them, and one of the ways they did that was by opening credit cards in their partners’
names. In their research to develop the Scale of Economic Abuse (SEA), Adams and
colleagues (2008) included several items that although not explicitly intended to do so,
captured elements of coerced debt. For example, of the 103 women seeking services
for domestic violence who were interviewed, 39% reported that their partner had built
up debt under their name by doing things like putting a car, apartment/house, or credit
card in their name; 53% reported that their partner had used their checkbook, ATM
card, or credit card without their permission and/or knowledge; and 68% reported that
their partner had forced them to give him money or let him use their checkbook, ATM
card, or credit card. Sanders (2015) reported a common theme among participants of
accumulating debt and damaged credit because of abuse. The connection between
abuse and debt is substantiated by findings from the 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy
Project (CBP) showing that 17.8% of the 258 married and cohabitating female partici-
pants experienced intimate partner abuse in the year they filed for bankruptcy, a rate
much higher than the 1.5% to 9.8% annual rates of abuse reported in studies with
samples of women most comparable with that of the CBP (Littwin, 2012; Tjaden &
Thoennes, 2000). Finally, in the only study to date explicitly focused on coerced debt,
Littwin (2012) found that of the 55 domestic violence professionals interviewed, 51
(93%) had knowledge of coerced debt based on their work with survivors. For exam-
ple, participants shared stories of women whose partners forged their names on credit
card offers that had arrived in the mail, forced them to sign financial documents against
their will, coerced them to purchase items on credit, and required that household debts
be in their names.

Littwin’s original study also surfaced key correlates of coerced debt. Participants
recounted how abusers concealed the existence and extent of coerced debt by engag-
ing in controlling behaviors such as hiding mail and prohibiting access to financial
accounts. Restricting access to financial information is a tactic of economic abuse that
has been reported elsewhere (Adams et al., 2008; Brewster, 2003; Postmus et al.,
2011; Sanders, 2015), and Littwin characterized it as foundational to the establishment
of coerced debt (Littwin, 2012). Whether by hiding the existence of coerced debt or
some other form of direct or indirect prohibition, abusers kept their partners from pay-
ing on coerced debts in a timely manner or at all. When coerced debts went unpaid,
damaged credit was the result. Littwin noted that a troubled credit history or score
would not be as problematic if credit reports were used only by traditional lenders.
However, the reality is that employers, landlords, and utility companies make exten-
sive use of credit reports and scores in screening potential employees, tenants, and
customers, which can prevent victims from obtaining jobs, housing, and basic utilities.
If the victim is aware of the debt and is paying on it, this added financial obligation

Adams et al. 1327

restricts the resources available to meet other needs. With damaged credit and limited
money, starting a new life away from an abuser becomes extremely difficult. Studies
consistently show that lack of financial resources is a primary reason women remain
in abusive relationships (Aguirre, 1985; Anderson & Saunders, 2003; I. M. Johnson,
1992; Kim & Gray, 2008; Matlow & DePrince, 2015).

Research conducted with human service and legal professionals provided initial
evidence of the problem of coerced debt, how it happens, and the effects it has on
victims’ lives (Littwin, 2012). Investigations of women’s direct experiences of coerced
debt are now needed to advance our understanding of this dramatically underre-
searched form of economic abuse. As an initial step toward filling this gap, the current
study builds on Littwin’s study by using a sample of IPV survivors seeking help from
the NDVH to investigate central research questions surfaced by Littwin. Specifically,
the current study examines the following six foundational research questions: (1) How
common is coerced debt generated via coercive and fraudulent transactions? (2) What
types of consequences do survivors expect for failing to comply with abusers’ demands
to take on debt? (3) How do women discover coerced debt generated via fraudulent
transactions? (4) Are women with partners who control access to financial information
more likely to have coerced debt? (5) Are women with coerced debt more likely than
women without coerced debt to report credit damage due to an intimate relationship?
and (6) Are women with coerced debt more likely to stay in an abusive relationship
longer due to financial concerns than women without coerced debt? Answers to these
questions will move the field forward toward understanding and addressing the extent
and effects of coerced debt in women’s lives.

Method

Participants and Procedures

The study used a convenience sample of callers to the NDVH over an 8-week period
in the summer of 2014. Callers were eligible to participate if they identified as female
and an IPV survivor and were at least 18 years old. At the end of the call, if the caller
was not in crisis and met the eligibility criteria, the trained advocate who took the call
read a scripted statement explaining the survey and asking if the caller was willing to
participate. The NDVH provided the researchers with a de-identified data set after data
collection was complete.

Out of 10,232 calls received during the data collection period, 8,003 callers met the
eligibility criteria, and 1,863 participated in the survey. Forty of these were excluded
because they lived outside of the United States, and issues of debtor–creditor law are
country-specific. Our final sample consisted of 1,823 women. As shown in Table 1,
most participants were between the ages of 25 and 45 (66%), and reported their race/
ethnicity as non-Hispanic white (46%) or black (23%). Geographically, the majority of
participants were from the South (38%) or West (29%) of the United States. The
demographic characteristics of the callers who participated in the study were

1328 Violence Against Women 26(11)

proportionally equivalent to those of all eligible callers during the data collection
period, indicating that the sample was representative of hotline callers.

Measures

The instrument used in this study was developed specifically to assess coerced debt
and its effects among hotline callers. Instrument length and ease of administration
were prioritized to minimize the burden on the hotline advocates and callers. As such,
measures were restricted to single “yes/no” items and limited open-ended questions.
To maximize data quality, the advocates received training on how to administer the
instrument prior to the start of the study.

Coerced debt. Coerced debt was measured with a series of three questions. Based on
the conceptual work of Dutton and Goodman (2005), two questions were asked to
assess for a coercive transaction. The occurrence of a demand was measured using a
single, yes/no question asking, “Has an intimate partner ever convinced or pressured

Table 1. Sample Characteristics.

Characteristic Frequency % of sample (n = 1,823)

Age
18-24 212 12
25-35 688 38
36-45 510 28
46-54 278 15
55 and over 135 7

Race/ethnicity
White 837 46
Black 411 23
Hispanic 327 18
Multiracial 83 5
Asian 69 4
Native American/Alaska 20 1
Native Hawaiian/Pacific
Islander

14 1

Arab/Middle Eastern 10 1
Other 20 1
Unknown 32 2

U.S. Region
Northeast 300 17
South 689 38
Midwest 293 16
West 529 29
Unknown 12 1

Adams et al. 1329

you to borrow money or buy something on credit when you didn’t want to?” If the
caller answered “yes” to the demand question, the occurrence of a perceived conse-
quence for non-compliance with the demand was assessed with the following ques-
tion: “What did you think would happen if you said ‘no?’” Qualitative responses
were coded 0 = no consequence, 1 = consequence. The occurrence of a fraudulent
transaction was measured with a single, yes/no question asking, “Have you ever
found out about debt or bills that an intimate partner put in your name without you
knowing?” Responses were coded 0 = no, 1 = yes. The coerced debt variable was
operationalized as the occurrence of either a coercive or fraudulent transaction, with
0 = no and 1 = yes.

The open-ended responses to the consequences for non-compliance question
described above were thematically coded to indicate the nature of the consequence. An
initial round of coding produced three broad, mutually exclusive thematic categories:
physical, psychological, and economic. “Physical consequences” were defined as
threats of bodily harm to the victim or the victim’s loved ones. “Psychological conse-
quences” were defined as threats of emotionally distressing actions. “Economic con-
sequences” were defined as threats of the loss of financial and material resources. A
second round of coding was conducted to assign each response to the appropriate
categories.

Discovery of a fraudulent transaction. Fraud discovery method was assessed by asking
the following open-ended question to hotline callers who reported a fraudulent trans-
action: “How did you find out about the debt or bills?” Two coders themed the
responses, and disagreements were reconciled with input from a third coder. A cate-
gorical “fraud discovery” variable was created based on the thematic analysis.

Control over financial information. Control over financial information was measured
with a single, yes/no question asking, “Has an intimate partner ever kept financial
information from you?” Responses were coded 0 = no, 1 = yes, indicating whether or
not the hotline caller had a partner who kept financial information from her.

Credit damage. Credit damage was measured with one question: “Has your credit
report or credit score been hurt by the actions of an intimate partner?” The response
options included yes, no, and not sure. For the inferential analyses, “not sure” responses
were coded as “no” resulting in a dichotomous variable, coded 0 = no, 1 = yes, indi-
cating whether or not the hotline caller had her credit report or score hurt by the actions
of an intimate partner.

Financial dependence. Financial dependence was measured using a single, yes/no ques-
tion asking, “Have you ever stayed longer than you wanted in a relationship with
someone who was controlling because of concerns about financially supporting your-
self or your children?” Responses were coded 0 = no, 1 = yes, indicating whether or
not the hotline caller ever stayed longer than desired in a relationship with someone
who was controlling because of financial concerns.

1330 Violence Against Women 26(11)

Control variables. Age and race/ethnicity were controlled for in this study, as both char-
acteristics could affect women’s financial well-being. Age and race/ethnicity ques-
tions did not appear on the survey; instead, the variables were generated for use in this
study based on the demographic information routinely collected for all hotline callers.
The age variable was ordinal, with the following categories: 18-24, 25-35, 36-45,
46-54, and 55 and over; “55 and over;” was used as the reference category. The nomi-
nal race variable had the following categories: non-Hispanic White, Black, Arab/Mid-
dle Eastern, Asian, Hispanic, Native American/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/
Pacific Islander, multiracial, and other. For the planned inferential analyses, the cate-
gories with a low percentage were combined into the “other” category, resulting in a
four-category variable: White, Black, Hispanic, and other; “White” was used as the
reference category.

Data Analysis

Frequency analysis was performed to answer research questions 1-4 regarding the
prevalence and nature of coerced debt. Logistic regression was conducted to answer
research questions 4-6 regarding the likelihood of coerced debt for women with part-
ners who control access to financial information; the likelihood of having damaged
credit due to the actions of an intimate partner for women with coerced debt; and the
likelihood of financial dependence for women with coerced debt.

In preparation for the logistic regression, missing values analysis was performed
and the missing values were imputed using expectation maximization. Missing values
analysis revealed 3.4% missing values on the variables of interest. Little’s Missing
Completely at Random (MCAR) test was significant, indicating that the missing val-
ues were not MCAR. Further bivariate analysis showed no significant relationship
among the missing values, suggesting that the data were missing at random. Expectation
maximization methods were used to estimate the missing values. All analyses were
conducted with SPSS version 24.

Results

As shown in Table 2, 52% of callers to the NDVH who participated in this study
reported coerced debt. In other words, half of participants had partners who generated
debt in their name via a coercive and/or fraudulent transaction.

A coercive transaction was reported by 43% of the total sample and 87% of the
callers who reported either type of coerced debt. When asked what they thought would
happen if they did not comply with their partner’s request to take out a loan or buy
something on credit, most of the respondents (66%) who disclosed a consequence
described fearing psychological consequences, such as name calling, yelling and
screaming, or threatening to end the relationship. Over a third (38%) of participants
who disclosed a consequence cited fear of physical consequences for saying “no,”
including being beaten or killed. Ten percent (10%) explained that they feared some

Adams et al. 1331

form of economic consequence, such as job, money, or property loss, if they did not do
as their partner wished.

A fraudulent transaction was reported by 22% of all respondents and 46% of callers
who experienced coerced debt. Of the callers who disclosed how they discovered the
fraud, 62% said they learned of it through creditor- or bill collector-initiated contact.
Of those, 69% reported receiving notice of the debt via mail and 24% reported receiv-
ing a call from the creditor or bill collector. A quarter of the women who reported
learning of the debt via mail described finding the mail, as opposed to directly receiv-
ing it. For example, participants mentioned finding bills after a move or change of
address, receiving bills sent to them by mistake, discovering bills when the abuser
missed them or was away, obtaining the mail before the abuser, finding bills in the
trash, and receiving bills after the relationship had ended. Other noteworthy ways call-
ers learned of the debt were through reviewing their credit report (9%); applying for a
new service or loan (8%); notification of the debt by a friend, family member, the
police, bank, or credit union personnel (7%); seeing unauthorized activity on a bank or
credit card statement (5%); abuser confession to the debt (3%); an economic loss such
as property repossession or wage garnishment (3%); and through the divorce process
(3%). The methods of fraud discovery are summarized in Table 3.

Control over financial information, financial dependence, and abuse-related credit
damage were also commonly reported: 71% of callers said that their partner had kept
financial information from them; 46% said their credit had been damaged by the
actions of an abusive partner (another 14% said they were “not sure”); and 73% stayed
longer in a relationship with someone who was controlling because of concerns about
financially supporting themselves or their children.

Table 4 provides the results of the logistic regression model predicting the likeli-
hood of coerced debt based on whether abusers exerted control over financial informa-
tion, controlling for race/ethnicity and age. After accounting for race/ethnicity and
age, control over financial information significantly predicted the likelihood of having
coerced debt (odds ratio [OR] = 3.57, p < .001). In other words, women with partners who hid financial information from them were 3.6 times more likely to have debt in their name due to a coercive or fraudulent transaction perpetrated by an intimate part- ner. The model predicted 11% of the variance in coerced debt (Nagelkerke R2 = .11). The Hosmer and Lemeshow test was non-significant, indicating good model fit. Table 2. Frequency of Coerced Debt and Related Constructs. Variable Frequency % n Coerced debt 858 52 1,661 Fraudulent transaction 386 22 1,776 Coercive transaction 707 43 1,636 Physical consequence 271 38 707 Psychological consequence 467 66 707 Economic consequence 73 10 707 Note. Variations in n for coerced debt variables are due to missing data. 1332 Violence Against Women 26(11) Table 3. Methods of Fraudulent Transaction Discovery. Variable Frequency % (n = 325a) Creditor- or bill collector-initiated contact 202 62 Mail contact 140 69b Phone contact 48 24b Credit report 29 9 Applying for new service or a loan 25 8 Notification by friend, family, police, or bank/credit union staff 24 7 Saw unauthorized activity on bank or credit card statement 15 5 Abuser confessed to partner 11 3 Collection resulting in economic loss (e.g., repossession, garnishment) 9 3 Divorce 9 3 aIn all, 61 participants who reported a fraudulent transaction did not disclose the discovery method. bPercent of n = 202 who discovered debt via creditor or bill collector; numbers contacted by mail or phone are not mutually exclusive as some participants were contacted by both mail and phone. Table 4. Logistic Regression of Control Over Financial Information on Coerced Debt (n = 1,823). Variables β SE Wald’s χ2 df p OR 95% CI for OR LL UL Race/ ethnicity 4.69 3 .20 African American 0.03 .13 0.07 1 .79 1.03 0.81 1.32 Hispanic −0.27 .14 3.69 1 .06 0.77 0.59 1.01 Other −0.09 .16 0.34 1 .56 0.91 0.66 1.25 Age 8.20 4 .08 18-24 −0.39 .24 2.68 1 .10 0.67 0.42 1.08 25-35 −0.50 .21 5.77 1 .02 0.61 0.41 0.91 36-45 −0.49 .21 5.43 1 .02 0.61 0.41 0.93 46-54 −0.24 .23 1.16 1 .28 0.78 0.50 1.22 Fin. Info. Control 1.27 .11 130.60 1 p<.001 3.57 2.87 4.45 Constant −0.31 .21 2.18 1 .14 0.73 Note. Race reference category is Non-Hispanic White; Age reference category is 55 and over. Nagelkerke R2 = .11. Model χ2 = 158.94. Hosmer and Lemeshow = 7.35, p = .50. CI = confidence interval; OR = odds ratio. Adams et al. 1333 Table 5 summarizes the results of the logistic regression model predicting the likeli- hood of credit damage based on coerced debt. After accounting for race/ethnicity and age, coerced debt significantly predicted the likelihood of credit damage (OR = 6.09 p < .001), indicating that women with coerced debt were 6 times more likely to have their credit report or credit score hurt by the actions of an intimate partner. The model predicted 25% of the variance in credit damage (Nagelkerke R2 =.25). The Hosmer and Lemeshow test was non-significant, indicating good model fit. Table 6 shows the results of the logistic regression model predicting the likelihood of financial dependence based on coerced debt. After accounting for race/ethnicity and age, coerced debt significantly predicted the likelihood of financial dependence (OR = 2.50, p < .001). Women with coerced debt were 2.5 times more likely to have ever stayed longer than they wanted in a relationship with someone who was controlling because of concerns about financially supporting themselves or their children. The model predicted 7.7% of the variance in financial dependence (Nagelkerke R2 =.077). The Hosmer and Lemeshow test was non-significant, indicating good model fit. Discussion Evidence that IPV perpetrators generate debt in their partners’ names has been present in the research literature for some time (Adams et al., 2008; Brewster, 2003). Using qualitative methods, Littwin (2012) gave the phenomenon a name—coerced Table 5. Logistic Regression of Coerced Debt on Credit Damage (n = 1,823). Variables β SE Wald’s χ2 df p OR 95% CI for OR LL UL Race/ ethnicity 16.41 3 .001 African American −0.29 .13 4.82 1 .03 0.75 0.58 0.97 Hispanic −0.59 .15 15.38 1 p<.001 0.56 0.41 0.75 Other −0.23 .17 1.77 1 .18 0.80 0.57 1.11 Age 17.29 4 .002 18-24 −0.76 .25 9.04 1 .003 0.47 0.29 0.77 25-35 −0.39 .21 3.37 1 .07 0.68 0.44 1.03 36-45 −0.33 .22 2.32 1 .13 0.72 0.47 1.10 46-54 0.02 .24 0.01 1 .92 1.02 0.65 1.63 Coerced Debt 1.81 .11 288.56 1 p<.001 6.09 4.94 7.50 Constant −0.60 .21 8.35 1 .004 0.55 Note. Race reference category is Non-Hispanic White; age reference category is 55 and over. Nagelkerke R2 = .25. Model χ2 = 376.87. Hosmer and Lemeshow = 3.06, p = .93. CI = confidence interval; OR = odds ratio. 1334 Violence Against Women 26(11) debt—and described its mechanisms and consequences as witnessed by professionals in the IPV field. The current study quantitatively examined research questions informed by Littwin (2012) from the perspective of IPV survivors themselves. Specifically, the current study examined the frequency, nature, and effects of coerced debt among women who sought help from the NDVH. The findings suggest that coerced debt is a common experience for women seeking help for intimate partner abuse, with about half (52%) of the sample reporting that their partner had put debt in their name either via a coercive and/or fraudulent transaction. A coercive transaction was reported by 43% of respondents, and about one in five women surveyed (22%) had discovered debt that a partner had generated in their name fraudulently. It is important to note that the fraud rate may be an undercount because women who had not yet discovered an abuser’s fraud would answer this question negatively. Hotline callers whose partners fraudulently put debt in their names most commonly reported discovering that debt through billing or collections activity, with most of them discovering it by mail. This is interesting because the results also showed that 71% of women surveyed had partners who hid financial information from them. This potential contradiction can be partially explained by the finding that a quarter of women reported finding mail in a way that suggested that they found it despite their partners’ attempts to hide the financial information. The results also showed that respondents with a partner who hid financial informa- tion were 3.6 times more likely to have coerced debt. Abusers might hide financial Table 6. Logistic Regression of Coerced Debt on Financial Dependence (n = 1,823). Variables β SE Wald’s χ2 df p OR 95% CI for OR LL UL Race/ ethnicity 12.71 3 .01 African American −0.41 .14 8.86 1 .003 0.67 0.51 0.87 Hispanic −0.27 .15 3.02 1 .08 0.77 0.57 1.03 Other −0.48 .17 7.72 1 .01 0.62 0.44 0.87 Age 10.15 4 .04 18-24 −0.19 .25 0.57 1 .45 0.83 0.50 1.36 25-35 0.25 .22 1.26 1 .26 1.28 0.83 1.98 36-45 0.22 .23 0.93 1 .34 1.24 0.80 1.94 46-54 0.41 .25 2.67 1 .10 1.51 0.92 2.46 Coerced Debt 0.92 .11 69.43 1 p<.001 2.50 2.02 3.11 Constant 0.58 .21 7.34 1 .01 1.78 Note. Race reference category is Non-Hispanic White; age reference category is 55 and over. Nagelkerke R2 = .077. Model χ2 = 98.76. Hosmer and Lemeshow = 3.04, p = .93. CI = confidence interval; OR = odds ratio. Adams et al. 1335 information in a deliberate attempt to perpetrate, cover up, or keep their partners from paying on coerced debt (Littwin, 2012). Alternatively, they may hide financial infor- mation as part of their control tactics, for example, to create vulnerabilities in their partners, and only later realized that they had set the stage for coerced debt (Dutton & Goodman, 2005). This study explored two possible consequences of coerced debt: credit damage and financial dependence. Credit damage due to the actions of an abusive partner was reported by 46% of the hotline callers surveyed; this figure is likely an underreporting given that another 14% were unsure if their credit had been damaged, and women who had not yet discovered fraudulent debt would not know of any damage to their credit reports. Respondents with coerced debt were 6 times more likely to have their credit damaged by the actions of an abusive partner. A relationship between coerced debt and credit damage was also found by Littwin (2012). Based on their experiences working with IPV survivors, the professionals interviewed for that study concluded that coerced debt negatively affects survivors’ credit. Coerced debt increases victims’ overall debt burden, and the extant economic abuse literature shows that abusers engage in an array of behaviors that would make it difficult for victims to pay their debts. For instance, abusers prevent their partners from earning money; they directly forbid debt payment; they steal or spend the money needed to pay bills; and they may hide the existence of the debt (Adams et al., 2008; Brewster, 2003; Littwin, 2012; Postmus et al., 2011; Sanders, 2015). In addition to credit damage, this study showed that coerced debt is associated with financial dependence on the abuser. Nearly three quarters (73%) of women reported that they had stayed longer than they had wanted in a relationship with someone who was controlling because of concerns about financially supporting themselves or their children. Women with coerced debt were 2.5 times more likely to report financial dependence than women without coerced debt. In other words, the odds that financial dependence will occur is greater when coerced debt is present. An association between coerced debt and financial dependence was also reported by Littwin (2012). The find- ings from that study indicated that coerced debt can be a significant financial barrier to leaving an abusive relationship. It may be that one’s debt burden factors into the calculation of the relative advantages and disadvantages of remaining in versus leav- ing an abusive relationship. The NDVH provided an opportunity to study coerced debt among a diverse, national sample of IPV survivors; however, there were limitations of the study design that warrant attention. Brevity and ease of administration were top considerations in designing the instrument. As such, strict limits were placed on the number and type of questions asked (i.e., quantitative measurement was restricted to dichotomous items). Survey length limits imposed a number of limitations on this study. First, the length limits necessitated restricting the operationalization of coercive transactions to those involving “borrowing money or buying something on credit.” We know from prior research that coerced debt can also result from the abuser demanding that household bills including utilities, rent, or phone service are in the survivor’s name (Littwin, 2012), but we were unable to ask explicitly about coerced debt generated by these 1336 Violence Against Women 26(11) means. Future studies should expand the operationalization of coerced debt to include this tactic as well. Second, the survey design parameters prevented a more nuanced investigation into the specific types of debt abusers generated, for example, credit cards, mortgage, auto loans, and payday loans. Future research should assess for fraud and coercion around specific types of transactions. One way to do this, which the authors are piloting in another study, is to review survivors’ credit reports with them, systematically assessing for coercion and fraud in the opening and use of each account. Third, limits on survey length hindered a more comprehensive assessment of conse- quences for non-compliance with a partner’s request to take out a loan or buy some- thing on credit. The consequences element of coercion was assessed with one open-ended question. Although useful for surfacing the most salient consequence or consequences and determining if coercion occurred, this approach limits the conclu- sions that can be drawn from the data. Future research should assess each type of threat—psychological, physical, and economic—individually to permit examination of the occurrence and co-occurrence of each type. Fourth, survey length restrictions prevented the inclusion of questions to measure potential confounding variables beyond the basic demographics collected for all hotline callers. It may be that the observed scores on coerced debt, credit damage, and financial dependence were affected by variables not controlled for in the study. Future research should control for variables, such as income or the number of dependents, which could affect these dependent variables. It should also be noted that women were asked to report coerced debt, control over financial information, abuse-related credit damage, and financial dependence experi- enced in any intimate relationships. It may be that these phenomena occurred within separate intimate relationships. Although the findings show that these experiences are meaningfully related, future studies should examine these associations within and across intimate relationships. A final limitation for consideration stems from the use of a cross-sectional design. This design prohibited conclusions regarding the directionality of the relationships among the constructs of interest. Although this study is a step forward in advancing our understanding of the nature and effects of coerced debt, longitudinal, mixed-meth- ods research is recommended to gain a fuller picture of the types and amounts of coerced debt incurred, the mechanisms by which the debt is generated, and the conse- quences of that debt for victims’ immediate and long-term financial security. For example, researchers could use a prospective or retrospective longitudinal design to collect interview data from IPV survivors with and without coerced debt to examine the effects of coerced debt on survivors’ economic well-being. To aid research in this area, a comprehensive screening tool is needed to obtain a systematic understanding of coerced debt. The screening tool should reference the survivor’s credit report to simultaneously enhance recall and provide documentation of important features of each coerced debt (i.e., payment history, borrowing history). Limitations notwithstanding, this study has important practice and policy implica- tions. The study shows that coerced debt is a common experience among women seek- ing help for IPV and is associated with damaged credit and financial dependence on Adams et al. 1337 the abuser. As such, agencies serving IPV survivors, including crisis hotlines, shelters, advocacy programs, and legal services, must be prepared to identify and address coerced debt. Crisis hotline advocates can be trained to listen for indicators of coerced debt and, when appropriate, refer the caller to IPV and legal services for assistance. Professionals who provide more intensive services can work with survivors to assess for coerced debt and devise strategies to address it and associated issues. Specifically, providers with economic advocacy training can help survivors gain access to personal financial information that might have been hidden from them and take stock of their assets and debts. They can assist by working with survivors to safely obtain their credit reports and review them for instances of coercion and fraud. Coercion can be identi- fied by discussing whether debts were incurred as a result of an abuser’s demands and tacit or explicit threats of consequences for noncompliance. This study suggests that consequences may include threats of physical, psychological, or economic harm. Fraud may appear on credit reports as unfamiliar accounts or transaction history, or debt that the survivor is currently aware of but that was originally incurred in her name without her knowledge. If coerced debt is found, immediate steps that can be taken, including disputing the fraudulent charges with the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax) and placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on the credit report, which makes it harder for the survivor’s partner to generate additional coerced debt and further dam- age her credit. Victims of coerced debt might also consider changing their financial security information including checking account numbers, savings account numbers, online bank passwords, credit card numbers, online shopping passwords, or informa- tion associated with any other account that their partner can access, to prevent further coerced debt. If a survivor is being turned down for jobs or housing because coerced debt has hurt her credit score, advocating directly with the potential employer or land- lord may be helpful. Also, advocates can contact attorneys with expertise in consumer and family law to discuss legal options for addressing the debt. It can be useful to discuss strategies to document the circumstances around coerced debt, including hid- ing financial information, in case legal action is possible. Of course, with all of these strategies, safety must be considered. It is important to discuss how a victim’s partner would respond to any of these actions. The finding that bills and debt collector activity were the most common forms of discovering fraudulent transactions suggests that financial institutions play an impor- tant role in the discovery of coerced debt. The challenge is making contact with a bor- rower whose partner is potentially hiding financial information from them. Although the findings suggest that some women do eventually uncover hidden mail, advocates and attorneys could work with financial institutions to develop best practices for get- ting this information into borrowers’ hands. In addition to engaging in individual and systems-level economic advocacy, attor- neys can help victims of coerced debt through litigation. Coerced debt implicates two areas of law: family law and consumer law. Family lawyers frequently lack training on how to use consumer law, and consumer lawyers are frequently not sensitized to IPV- specific issues. To address coerced debt effectively, cross-training and the sharing of 1338 Violence Against Women 26(11) strategies are essential. The work of the National Consumer Law Center and the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice provides a best-practices model for developing the necessary capacity. These two agencies coordinate trainings and develop resources that bridge the gap between consumer and family law. Given our finding that coerced debt appears to be common among IPV survivors, this type of coordination needs to be widespread. This study’s finding that a coercive transaction was reported by the overwhelming majority (87%) of the women who experienced coerced debt may present problems for legal strategies to limit the impact of coerced debt on its victims because the legal remedies to address coercive transactions are limited. Although fraudulent transac- tions are a form of identity theft, for which federal law provides remedies (15 U.S.C. § 1643 [1980]; 15 U.S.C. § 1681c-2 [2010]), debt generated by coercion is more dif- ficult to address because federal law provides no relief for debt generated by coercion. Attorneys are developing creative legal strategies to work within current law but the options are limited. For example, one promising approach is the argument that the Truth in Lending Act’s (TILA’s) remedies for “unauthorized use” apply to coerced transactions, but the provisions were designed for fraud, so coercion cases can be chal- lenging to win. In addition, the TILA remedies cover only the unauthorized use of credit cards, which leaves much coerced debt ineligible for this relief [15 U.S.C. § 1643 (1980)]. State law also generally fails to address debt generated by coercive transactions. The doctrine of duress is the primary tool under contract law for voiding contracts obtained by coercion, but it currently does not apply to coerced debt. Duress law pre- vents victims of coercion from invaliding contracts with innocent third parties who provided value [Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 175 (1981)]. For example, if an abuser coerced a survivor into signing a contract that stated that she owed a debt to the abuser, duress law would invalidate the contract. But coerced debt involves third-party creditors such as lenders who extended credit without knowledge of the coercion and so are legally entitled to be repaid, unless one of the federal laws discussed above applies. The 46% of callers with coerced debt who reported a fraudulent transaction have access to federal identity-theft remedies that enable victims to avoid liability and repair their credit [15 U.S.C. § 1643 (1980); U.S.C. § 1681c-2 (2010)]. These reme- dies also provide a process for reporting the fraud to credit reporting agencies, which in turn, must inform victims’ financial institutions [U.S.C. § 1681c-2 (2010); 12 C.F.R. 1022.3(i)]. Nevertheless, fraudulent claims can still face barriers to success. The inti- mate relationship between the survivor and abuser can create skepticism among deci- sion makers about whether the fraud is legitimate and the survivor is entitled to relief (Littwin, 2013). In addition, accessing these remedies can require a police report, which can present problems because many IPV victims want to avoid police involve- ment (Littwin, 2013). State contract law does not fill the gaps left by the federal stat- utes. The doctrine of misrepresentation covers contracts induced by fraud. But like the law of duress, the law of misrepresentation generally does not allow fraud victims to avoid their contracts with innocent third parties who provide value, such as a creditor Adams et al. 1339 that lent money to an abuser without knowledge that the abuser fraudulently incurred the debt in the victim’s name [Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 164 (1981)]. In addition, family courts are usually unable to provide relief for victims of coerced debt (Littwin, 2012). The overwhelming majority of U.S. states have clear authority providing that family courts may not alter the divorcing parties’ contracts with credi- tors.2 Thus, even if a family court in one of these states assigns a given coerced debt to the abuser, the creditor still has the right to collect the debt from the survivor and report any non-payment to the credit reporting agencies. A family court can adjust the debts between the divorcing spouses, but that is helpful only if the abuser has assets with which to compensate the victim. A small minority of states do not appear to have law addressing the rights of creditors in divorces, but do have law that permits family courts to join third parties to a divorce. These states appear to have applied this law only to third parties with property rights, not to creditors.3 It is thus unclear whether a family court could modify a victim of coerced debt’s contract with her creditor in one of these states. This study also has important policy implications. Our findings that coerced debt appears to be common and is associated with credit damage and financial dependence suggest a need for laws that would release victims from liability or otherwise provide them with damages as compensation for these liabilities. Federal law is the most prom- ising place for policy reform because a state-by-state approach would likely result in a wide variety of laws that could be confusing for survivors as well as inefficient for creditors and credit reporting agencies, which operate on a national scale. The finding that coercive transactions may be quite common points to the law of duress as an area for reform, although this presents the challenge that duress doctrine is state law. Given the benefits of national uniformity, the best approach may be to encourage law-reform organizations to draft a uniform law of coerced debt for adoption by the states, a com- mon solution in debtor–creditor law (see, for example, the Uniform Commercial Code and the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act). In addition, the association found between coerced debt and abuse-related credit damage suggests that remedies to rehabilitate victims’ credit reports may be important. This finding provides support for Littwin’s proposal to expand laws that help victims of identity theft (Littwin, 2013). As mentioned above, federal law already has provi- sions that address identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission already has expertise in applying them (see, for example, https://www.identitytheft.gov/). Law reform at the federal level would need only to clarify that the existing identity-theft laws applied to coerced debt generated by fraud and to expand them to cover debt generated by coer- cion (Littwin, 2013). Due to concerns about the secondary nature of her data, Littwin limited the application of her proposals to married victims of coerced debt who had divorced their abusive partners (Littwin, 2013). The support for Littwin’s proposal that this study provides suggests that it may be appropriate to expand Littwin’s proposal to cover unmarried victims of coerced debt as well. Finally, the study’s finding that participants who reported coerced debt were more likely than other participants to have stayed longer than they wanted in a relationship with a controlling partner due to financial concerns underscores the importance of the 1340 Violence Against Women 26(11) policy reforms just discussed. This finding suggests that coerced debt may be an eco- nomic barrier to leaving an abusive intimate partner. Thus, these types of policy reforms, in conjunction with efforts to enable service providers and attorneys to iden- tify and address coerced debt, could aid in the mitigation of a potentially significant economic barrier to safety from IPV. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Funding The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Supplemental Material Supplemental material for this article is available online. Notes 1. The phenomenon of interest in this study, coerced debt, is rooted in coercive control. Power and control dynamics appear to be a gendered phenomenon. The available data suggest that, although IPV may have some gender-neutral aspects, dimensions associated with power and control implicate gender (M. P. Johnson, 2006; Stark, 2007). Research suggests that the gender skew of IPV increases as more elements of power and control are involved. The more severe the violence and the more control-oriented it is, the more likely it is to be perpetuated by men against women (Black et al., 2010). It is for this reason that the current study focuses on IPV committed by men against their female partners. 2. Forty-four states have clear law on this point. Please see Supplemental Appendix A. 3. Five states take this position, and Virginia’s law is unclear on this point. Please see Supplemental Appendix B. 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Coercive control: How men entrap women in personal life. New York: Oxford University Press. Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner vio- lence: Findings from the national violence against women survey. Washington, DC: U.S. National Institute of Justice. Author Biographies Adrienne E. Adams, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on the economic effects of intimate partner abuse. She also has expertise in evaluating domestic violence victim service programs. 1342 Violence Against Women 26(11) Angela K. Littwin is the Ronald D. Krist Professor of Law at the University of Texas, Austin. She studies bankruptcy, consumer, and commercial law. Her current research includes studying the attitudes toward bankruptcy among consumers being sued by debt collectors as well as racial disparities in the consumer bankruptcy system. She has recently published articles about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and how consumer bankruptcy attorneys adapted to the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. McKenzie Javorka is a doctoral student in Ecological-Community Psychology at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on institutional responses to sexual violence, with a par- ticular interest in policy and services for college survivors of sexual assault. She has also worked on research related to intimate partner violence and economic abuse. Articles/author name, date, short title https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260517743547 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2021, Vol. 36(3-4) NP1625 –1651NP © The Author(s) 2017 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0886260517743547 journals.sagepub.com/home/jiv Original Research “It’s Not All About Money”: Toward a More Comprehensive Understanding of Financial Abuse in the Context of VAW Marie Eriksson1 and Rickard Ulmestig1 Abstract Men’s violence against women (VAW) is multifaceted and complex. Besides physical, psychological, and sexual violence, women subjected to VAW often suffer from economic hardship and financial abuse. Financial abuse involves different tactics used to exercise power and gain control over partners. Experiences of financial abuse make it difficult for women to leave an abusive partner and become self-sufficient. From an intersectional perspective, applying the concept of the continuum of violence, the aim of this article is to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how women subjected to men’s violence in intimate relationships experience the complexity of financial abuse in their lives, in the context of VAW. Based on 19 in-depth interviews with women surviving domestic violence, the study describes how intertwined women’s experiences of financial abuse are with other forms of abuse, influencing each other, simultaneously experienced as a distinct form of abuse with severe and longstanding consequences. Women in the study describe how men’s abuse affects them financially, causing poverty and affecting their ability to have a reasonable economic standard. Financial abuse also causes women ill health, and damages their self-esteem and ability to work, associate, and engage in social life. The interviewed women describe 1Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden Corresponding Author: Marie Eriksson, Department of Social Work, Linnaeus University, Växjö 341 95, Sweden. Email: marie.eriksson@lnu.se 743547 JIVXXXXXX10.1177/088626051774354710.1177/0886260517743547Journal of Interpersonal ViolenceEriksson and Ulmestig research-article20172017 https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/journals-permissions https://journals.sagepub.com/home/jiv mailto:marie.eriksson@lnu.se http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1177%2F0886260517743547&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2017-12-24 NP1626 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) how experiences of financial abuse continue across time, from their past into their present situation and molding beliefs about the future. According to the interviews, financial abuse in private life sometimes continues into the public sphere, reproduced by social workers mimicking patterns of ex- partners’ abuse. Bringing out a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamic continuum of financial abuse, our results deepen knowledge about the complexity of VAW in women’s lives, and thereby are important in processes of making victims of violence survivors of violence. Keywords men’s violence against women in intimate relationships, VAW, domestic violence, financial abuse, continuum of violence, intersectional perspectives Introduction In the context of men’s violence against women in intimate relationships (VAW), financial abuse occurs when men “control and limit women’s access to, and use of, money” (Branigan, 2004, p. 11). Financial abuse is one impor- tant tool in exercising power and gaining control over a partner, depriving her of financial resources to fulfill her basic needs, diminish her ability to live independently and deter her from leaving or ending the relationship (Adams, Sullivan, Bybee, & Greeson, 2008; Anderson & Saunders, 2003; Barnett, 2000; Branigan, 2004; Chronister, 2007; Green, 2014; Hughes, Bolis, Fries, & Finigan, 2015; Postmus, Plummer, McMahon, Murshid, & Sung, 2012; Purvin, 2007). Financial abuse and the economic hardship that follows can also force women who are its victims to return, sometimes risking their lives (Haeseler, 2013a; Purvin, 2007; Sanders & Schnabel, 2006). According to Stylianou, Mathisen, Postmus, and McMahon (2013), many studies of VAW neglect financial abuse or make it invisible when describing it as a form of psychological abuse. One explanation for this negligence could be that early radical feminist researchers on VAW focused on sexuality and the body, with little interest in financial exploitation as a dimension of women’s subordina- tion—in contrast to their Marxist and socialist sisters (Gemzöe, 2002). Branigan (2004) puts forward another interpretation, arguing that economic abuse can remain unseen because of an ideology of marriage and money that presumes that partners—men and women—have the same interests and share financial resources for the common good. Näsman and Fernqvist (2015) argue that scholars’ unwillingness to connect financial vulnerability and gen- der-based violence can be understood in the light of a feminist critique of socioeconomic explanations that dominate the research on financial Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1627 vulnerability and to some degree disregard gender. Consequently research on financial abuse in the context of VAW is still limited. Most studies on the subject are from the United States and Australia, based on a quantitative approach. Hence, to deepen our knowledge, we argue it is relevant to explore the relationship between financial abuse, its different forms, and other forms of abuse by using qualitative methods and by focusing on other welfare contexts. Sweden, one of the Nordic welfare states and the context of this study, is often perceived as a haven of gender equality, with small socioeconomic dif- ferences and an inclusive and strong welfare state (see Borchorst, 2012; Hakovirta, Kuivalainen, & Rantalaiho, 2013). Sweden has also adopted strong legislative intent to prevent VAW and to support victims of crime (Ljungwald, 2011; Peters, 2006). For example, the Social Service Act includes a particular section on municipalities’ responsibility to support vic- tims of crime, especially women and children who are victims of men’s vio- lence in intimate relationships (Social Service Act, 2000, 5§ 11 cap). Yet some critics argue the legislation is mainly symbolic (Elman, 2001; Ljungwald, 2011). However, Sweden ranks high in international compari- sons on many aspects of gender equality (Global Gender Gap Report, 2015) and the level of women’s participation in paid work is among the highest in the world (Harsløf & Ulmestig, 2013). The socioeconomic differences among the population used to be low, but are now getting closer to an average European level (see Fritzell, Bäckman, & Rotakallio, 2012). Like other forms of VAW, financial abuse is characterized by a repeated pattern of abuse, embedded in “a continuum of control and coercion,” some- times as extreme as the term “surveillance” implies (Branigan, 2004, pp. 23-24). Liz Kelly developed the concept continuum of violence to understand the complexity in abused women’s experiences of violence, which did not neatly fit into the ordinary categories used by researchers or the judicial sys- tem (Kelly, 1988, 2012). Using the concept of continuum of violence, the aim of this article is to understand financial abuse, by analyzing women’s experi- ences of financial abuse in relation to other forms of VAW. Are financial abuse and other forms of VAW related, and how? Is financial vulnerability among survivors of VAW linked to other forms of vulnerability? If so, can their situation be understood as a continuum? If so, then how? Literature Review As research on VAW has shown, women’s experiences of violence in intimate relationships are complex, involving physical, psychological, sexual, emo- tional, and financial abuse—often related, co-occurring in their lives, NP1628 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) reinforcing each other (Johnson & Ferraro, 2000; Kelly, 1988, 2012; Lundgren, Heimer, Westerstrand, & Kalliokoski, 2001; Postmus et al., 2012; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). Nevertheless, scholars argue that financial abuse is also a specific form of abuse, which comprises characteristics distinct from other forms of VAW (Adams et al., 2008; Branigan, 2004; Postmus et al., 2012). In a pioneering study, Adams et al. (2008) concluded that financial abuse is when the offender in different ways interferes with the victim’s ability to acquire, use, or maintain financial resources. Related to how financial abuse interferes with abused women’s ability to acquire financial resources, schol- ars have, for example, explored how men’s violence affects their partners’ employment and capacity to work or study, and thus their ability to earn an income and be self-sufficient (Moe & Bell, 2004; Postmus et al., 2012; Riger, Ahrens, & Blickenstaff, 2000; Riger & Staggs, 2005; Swanberg, Macke, & Logan, 2006; Tolman & Raphael, 2000). Tactics or strategies of financial abuse can, for example, include withholding of earnings or information about finances, constraining involvement in paid work, and limiting the control of money or financial decisions, creating debt or ruining credit, stealing, and destroying property (Branigan, 2004; Postmus et al., 2012; Sanders, 2015; Stylianou et al., 2013; Swanberg, Logan, & Macke, 2005). Exploring the correlation between different forms of VAW, Stylianou et al. (2013) found that 75% of women in their study who suffered from physical and/or psychological abuse from a male partner also experienced financial abuse. This supports the results of Postmus et al. (2012), who also found a strong correlation between financial abuse and other forms of abuse in analy- ses of VAW. Branigan’s (2004) study shows that women’s experiences of financial abuse are similar to other forms of abuse by being both “a contin- uum of control and coercion,” and “a repeated pattern of abuse, rather than isolated incidents.” Furthermore, studies have shown that financial abuse also can work as a risk factor in women’s lives, increasing their vulnerability to other forms of violence or having consequences such as physical violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, HIV, drug usage, and other criminal activities (Fawole, 2008; Haeseler, 2013b). As Sanders’s (2015) results demonstrate, financial issues are frequently “an impetus” to other forms of abuse in the context of VAW, including physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. According to Kelly (2012), the meaning of her concept continuum of vio- lence most commonly referred to derives from the original definition of the term, emphasizing that it is “‘a basic common character that underlies many different events’—that the many forms of intimate intrusion, coercion, abuse and assault [are] connected” (preface, p. xviii). Less used is another definition of the concept pointing out that “the categories used to name and distinguish Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1629 forms of violence . . . in research, law or policy, shade into and out of one another” (Kelly, 2012, preface, p. xviii). In line with Kelly, then, one argument for applying the concept of continuum in analyses of women’s experiences of financial abuse is that it is still a challenge to explore the meaning of the con- tinuum and how women’s—and men’s—lived experiences of violence are intertwined—when constructed as distinct categories in law and policy (Kelly, 2012). Building on Kelly’s continuum of violence, other feminist scholars have pointed out the importance of what they call a “comprehensive” interpreta- tion of violence, in avoiding a fragmented view that tends to trivialize or ignore some forms of violence, making them invisible as actions of vio- lence (Lundgren et al., 2001; Lundgren & Westerstrand, 2005). From this feminist position, we want to argue that financial abuse is a distinct form of VAW, yet sometimes entwined with its other forms. In a study on financial abuse, Sanders shows how women’s experiences of VAW are related—for example, by describing how conflicts over financial issues often escalate into other abusive acts. Yet, without applying the concept continuum of violence, it appears implicit when Sanders concludes that “women’s access to financial resources is often restricted, monitored or completely con- trolled by an abusive partner” (Sanders, 2015, p. 23). Sanders’s results strengthen our argument that the concept of continuum of violence (Kelly, 1988, 2012) can be fruitful to apply also in analyses of financial abuse, to achieve a more comprehensive and integrated understanding of VAW (Lundgren & Westerstrand, 2005). The opportunities women have to leave abusive men, be self-sufficient, and live a life free from violence are not only related to their individual resources but also depend on society’s welfare system (e.g., Gordon, 2002). Today’s Sweden is a mature welfare state with welfare systems that are well developed by international standards (Harsløf & Ulmestig, 2013; Kvist, Fritzell, Hvinden, & Kangas, 2012). A general conclusion has been that the Nordic institutional welfare model has enabled women to strengthen their social and economic position in society. Still, feminist researchers have been more critical and pessimistic about its potential to form a “women-friendly state,” arguing that it reproduces a new form of patriarchy with changed structures of inequality rather than bringing real gender equality (e.g., Hirdman, 2003; Siim, 1990). Concerning VAW, Swedish legal reform has gradually been improved to protect women from men’s violence, but the process has also been character- ized by a continuous questioning of gender-specific legislation, worries about rule of law, and a conservative defense of (men’s right to) privacy in family life (Wendt Höjer, 2002). In Sweden today, men’s VAW is officially recognized as NP1630 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) a political problem, a prioritized subject in policies on gender equality, and considered as one consequence of unequal gender-based power. Still, in prac- tice, many politicians and officials look upon the problem as social, not politi- cal, thus abdicating from their legal responsibility for all inhabitants in the municipality (Holmberg & Bender, 2001, 2003). Consequently, women suffer from men’s violence and its long-term negative financial consequences also in a Swedish context (Lövgren, 2014; Näsman & Fernqvist, 2015; Trygged, Hedlund, & Kåreholt, 2013). Method This study is based on 19 interviews conducted with women in three Swedish municipalities of different size and character. These in-depth interviews (see Irvine, 2011; Lucas, 2014) were semistructured, and lasted about 1 hr and sometimes a bit longer. Two of the interviewed women were recruited through ads in local newspapers and 17 of them via contact with women’s shelters. Most of the interviews were conducted at a women’s shelter, but in a separate and private space. In three of the interviews, women were accompanied by their small babies. One of the interviews was performed via telephone and another one where an interpreter translated via telephone. Notable is that all the interviews were conducted in Swedish—including the one that involved an interpreter—but are presented here in English. Such processes of translation inevitably involve the risk distorting meanings and nuances in language. To reduce such risks, we have continuously reflected upon nuances and meanings in translating the interviews, including the engagement of a professional translator, native English, who has lived in Sweden for a long time. All the interviewed women had left a relationship with a violent male partner between 1 month and 7 years before. In most cases, the breakup was less than 18 months ago. The women were aged 25 to 55, and 18 of them had children, most of whom lived together with their mothers at the time of the interviews. A majority of the women had a small, fragile personal network, for example, with friends and family. With a few exceptions, the women interviewed were working-class according to their education, socioeconomic background, and position on the labor market. Eight were born abroad, three were born in Sweden with parents born abroad, and eight were born in Sweden with Swedish-born parents. When the women were interviewed about the financial consequences of breaking up from a violent male partner, they also described experiences of financial abuse, its different aspects, consequences, and associations with other forms of abuse. Loaded with feelings such as anger, sadness, anxiety, Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1631 and relief, the interviews often became emotional, and affected both the inter- viewer and the woman interviewed. When the participants were informed about the study, all of them said they had someone to turn to after the inter- view if in need of support. Nevertheless, written information handed over to the participants included information on how to contact local women shelters. Applying the concepts of the continuum of violence and intersectional- ity to our interviews on financial abuse, we have worked out an analysis based on a reflective approach (see Alvesson, 2003; Alvesson, Hardy, & Harley, 2008). This analytical approach can be described as a process where the researchers alternate between the empirical data, earlier research, and theory. More precisely, the analytical process already began with the transcription of each interview, followed by close readings of the material where the researchers also alternated between analytical proximity and distance. Then empirical themes were identified and analyzed in a reflec- tive dialogue involving the researcher, existing research, and the empirical evidence—a method inspired by Alvesson and Kärreman (2007). In the readings, certain themes were immediately evident, while others appeared after a more in-depth analysis. Overall, this approach helps to meet the complexities of the interview material, by allowing different understand- ings, meanings, and categories to emerge (Alvesson, 2003; Alvesson et al., 2008). It also encourages researchers to distance themselves from earlier research and biases. By using this structured data analysis strategy, we aim to reflect on our own understandings, and problematize our positions, min- imizing the negative effects on the analysis. This mode of analysis attaches great importance to earlier research and the extensive literature review motivated by a need to put our results in a context of what we already know about financial abuse. However, presenting our material with refer- ence to long summaries from the interviews instead of more but shorter quotations is due to our theoretical position and the importance we attri- bute to giving voice to survivors’ experiences in our study. Based on the ethical principles of the humanities and social sciences (Swedish Research Council, 2005), the study was granted permission by the Regional Board of Ethics of research involving humans in Linköping (No. 2012/396/31). When trying to get access to the field, we brought written information about the research project, including ethical reflections on risks involved for participating informants, for example, the risk of bringing repressed memories and experiences of abuse to the surface. To resolve this, we stated that a female researcher with theoretical and practical knowledge of domestic violence conducted the interviews with the survivors, well prepared to give them further support if needed. NP1632 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) Theoretical Frame: Continuum of Violence and Intersectionality From an integrated and comprehensive feminist interpretation of violence, violence as a continuum means that there are no sharp boundaries between different forms of abuse. Controlling acts, insults, threats, and verbal, psy- chological, physical, and sexual abuse are not understood as distinctly separated categories, but as interconnected acts and manifestations with blurred boundaries, reinforcing each other—influencing the abused woman in negative ways (Kelly, 2012; Lundgren & Westerstrand, 2005). The con- cept also brings a perspective where violence can be analyzed as a process, and in a wider context, emphasizing the intersections between different violent acts and behaviors—and their consequences—placing serious criminalized physical acts of violence on the same sliding scale as legiti- mate and accepted forms of violence (Kelly, 1988, 2012). A continuum perspective on VAW also influences our ethical position as researchers, understanding that “all forms of gender-based violence are serious, but all forms of violence are not ‘the same’” (Lundgren & Westerstrand, 2005, p. 493, our translation). Lynn Segal (1990) has argued that the concept of continuum blurs bound- aries too much, without a differentiation between men and violence—making all men guilty and making violence an inherent essence of masculinity. In a comment on Segal’s critique, Kelly contends that it is clichéd, and involves a misconception that a radical feminist like her cannot share a social construc- tivist epistemology (Kelly, 2012). Another criticism of Kelly’s concept has questioned why certain forms of violence, such as honor-based violence and female genital mutilation/cutting, are excluded. According to Kelly, this lack of intersectional aspects of women’s experiences of violence in her develop- ment of the concept does not prevent such practices from being included (Kelly, 2012). With the aim of underscoring the “multidimensionality” of abused wom- en’s lived experiences, Kimberlé Crenshaw (1993) coined the concept inter- sectionality. Focusing on domestic violence and rape, she showed that systems of race, gender, and class converged in the experiences of battered women of color. From an intersectional perspective (see Bograd, 2010; Crenshaw, 1993; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010), we want to acknowledge that though men’s VAW is a universal problem, neither gender nor violence are universal categories. Women—and men—have specific experiences, inter- ests, and needs depending on how they are situated and positioned in relation to categories and power asymmetries such as class, ethnicity, sexuality, age, civil status, and so on. Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1633 Thus, women subjected to financial abuse experience the abuse and its consequences in different ways, not only because of their gender but also because of their class position, ethnicity, age, and so on. Worth noting here is that the welfare state has mainly developed to financially equalize power relations based on class, not gender (see Fraser, 1998). Result and Discussion This section starts with an analysis of how financial abuse relates to other forms of abuse in the context of VAW, and how the interviewed survivors experience this. Following on from that is a section on how financial abuse, as described by the survivors, also can be understood as a distinct form of abuse. Finally, there is an analysis of how women’s experiences of financial abuse relates to financial vulnerability. Financial Abuse From a Continuum Perspective From our interviews, it is evident that financial abuse is connected to and intertwined with other forms of abuse in women’s lives. Analyzing wom- en’s experiences of financial abuse from a continuum perspective and with a comprehensive understanding of violence makes visible how, for exam- ple, the physical violence the women have been subjected to is intertwined with financial abuse, or the ways in which men’s violence has affected their financial situation. The financial consequences of having a relation- ship with an abusive man vary but can be far-reaching and continue across time, into the future, thus reducing women’s financial ability and their possibility to empower themselves. Margaret is one example. She is a 57-year-old, well-educated and “settled” woman with three children. Margaret has also experienced psychological, physical, and sexual abuse from their father, her ex-husband. When describing him, she says he is well established in the local community, and has a good economy, which he uses to fight her in court. As with several women in our study, Margaret has become poor within the relationship. Now she has to pay lawyers to get custody of her children and thereby be free from the ties to her violent ex-husband. Asked about the con- sequences of her new financial situation, she says, My financial situation also means that I will never get into a new relationship, I can’t imagine myself, I don’t initiate contacts, I reject invitations, it prevents me from having a relation to anyone whatsoever, I can’t afford it, to go out, to go anywhere, I can’t afford to have a coffee, I have nothing to offer. NP1634 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) Illustrating how financial abuse can be exercised through social institu- tions with endless custody cases as an example, Margaret’s story fits well with research that shows how abusive men use courts to harass their victims, and how having an economic advantage makes their strategy even more effective (Morrow, Hankivsky, & Varcoe, 2004). Margaret’s experiences also reveal that financial abuse in the context of VAW can continue long after the relationship has ended; how the consequences of financial abuse still confine and circumscribe her possibilities to engage in social relations, prevent her from taking new contacts and dash her hope for a future relationship. Many of men’s various tactics of financial abuse not only undermine women’s financial independence, but also their freedom of mobility and association. Thus, it is also an abuse causing isolation, that sometimes ends up in a depres- sion that decreases the abused woman’s self-esteem, and further adds to her isolation, victimization, and difficulties in leaving the perpetrator (Green, 2014). Another example of how financial abuse circumscribes social life we get from Annie, who describes how becoming poor has disqualified her from both arranging and being invited to dinners and birthday parties, because her middle-class neighborhood requires a standard she “no longer can match.” Financial ability is important and a prerequisite for full participation in soci- ety (Cheng, 2012; Chronister, 2007), just as women’s freedom from violence and fear of violence is essential for democracy and citizenship (Wendt Höjer, 2002). Some women interviewed tell of how experiences of shame can com- plicate social relations and participation in society—both the shame of being subjected to violence, and the shame of being poor or unable to afford things. According to Denise, shame of being poor arises not only in contact with welfare authorities, when asking for financial support, but also when she is out and her friends pay for her, well aware she cannot pay back: “You’re ashamed, avoiding [social situations] . . . you always take, without giving back, it’s not good.” Mira’s story of being subjected to a husband’s violence, and to poverty—as a consequence of his financial abuse—exposes how dif- ferent forms of abuse intersect, sometimes with long-lasting and considerable effects on the self: “I don’t forget this shame, how awful . . . each time you get smaller and smaller and lose your self-esteem and self-confidence.” Shame can also be a consequence of men’s conscious humiliation related to financial abuse. Lea, another woman interviewed, tells of her husband: “[he] often bought clothes for himself, sometimes quite expensive.” But to “humil- iate her,” he did not allow her to buy anything for herself, but forced her to wear worn and damaged clothes. Experiences of shame also appear in other abused women’s stories, sometimes conveying a double shame that is a two- fold effect of financial abuse, originating from experiences of being a victim Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1635 of abuse and from being poor. Feelings of shame can be long-lasting, just as the precarious financial situation that many survivors of VAW suffer from often continues long after the breakup—due to the high costs of divorce, large debts, health problems, difficulties in housing, keeping a job, and so on (Branigan, 2004; Green, 2014; Haeseler, 2013b; Lindhorst, Oxford, & Gillmore, 2007). Lisa is an example of how emotional fragility as an effect of VAW can have an impact on victims’ possibilities to get employed, and how their unemployment can be intertwined with partners’ desire for power and con- trol. A woman in her twenties with a 6-month-old baby, staying at a women’s shelter, Lisa describes how multifaceted her former boyfriend’s financial abuse was. Among other tactics he used was employment sabotage, including harassing her at work by endless calls and a constant nagging demanding her to be at home, serving him, instead of working. As an effect of her partner’s abuse, Lisa is still unemployed, more than a year after breaking up from him. At the time of the interview, she was on parental leave, taking care of her baby. When thinking of going back to work, Lisa says, “I am afraid it will be difficult.” She questions how to be able to handle smells and sounds that remind her of her abusive partner. She also explains how experiences of her boyfriend’s abuse and threats from his family make it difficult for her to be in public places at all, especially if there are many men, and if they look at her. An incident like that recently happened, that made her panic and rush away. Asked about her present financial situation, she concludes, “Now I am more dependent on social benefits than ever before, because I have become very much damaged.” Discussing her experiences of abuse, and how they have affected her, Lisa says, The physical violence is not that hard, actually. The wounds disappear, the psychological lasts for years, many, many years . . . and every time you see a bill . . . it will immediately remind you of your past life, what you want to put behind you. Lisa’s story reveals how experiences of men’s physical VAW in intimate relationships can be intertwined with psychological and financial abuse, and mutually affect women’s mental health for a long time. Hence, cumulative vulnerability and victimization as a consequence of VAW hinder women from managing a job and becoming self-sufficient (Cocker et al., 2002; Lindhorst et al., 2007). For related reasons, Ellen (008), who has a protected identity because of death threats from her ex-husband, explains that her situation makes it diffi- cult to find a suitable job that does not reveal her identity. Diagnosed with NP1636 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) posttraumatic stress disorder as a consequence of being abused further com- plicates her chances of getting a job, together with ignorance among welfare officers not taking her position as a victim of crime seriously. Women sub- jected to VAW often have higher absence from work because of men’s vio- lence (see Adams, Tolman, Bybee, Sullivan, & Kennedy, 2012; Brandwein & Filiano, 2000). Accordingly, the difficulties in finding and keeping a job make abused women dependent on welfare (Adams et al., 2008; Roschelle, 2008). In a Swedish study, Trygged et al. (2013) conclude that the abused women in their sample had a lower education and a weaker financial position, even before they were assaulted, compared with the women in the sample who had not been assaulted. Yet, the results also show that all the abused women in the sample (no matter what their education level) who received hospital treatment for injuries caused by a male partner’s assault also were at greatly increased risk of having low incomes and of being in need of welfare support. The stories of survivors that appear in our material offer support for a feminist understanding of violence, suggesting that abusive men exercise power and control over women also by means of financial exploitation and control (Adams et al., 2008; Branigan, 2004; Sanders, 2015). Karin, a woman in her fifties, who had suffered from psychological and financial abuse, but now is divorced from the perpetrator, gives her picture saying, “For him I don’t think it was so much about the money, but more about breaking me down.” Applying the concept of continuum of violence (Kelly, 1988, 2012) to the survivors’ experiences helps us understand how different forms of vio- lence coexist and reinforce each other—“shade into and out of one another in complex ways” (Kelly, 2012, p. xviii)—turning physical and psychological violence into financial abuse with far-reaching consequences. The women interviewed give several examples of how violence works as a continuum in their lives, across time and place, and how these intertwined experiences of abuse mold a cumulative vulnerability (Scott-Storey, 2011). In a longer per- spective, disrupted employment records can result in abused women’s diffi- culties in getting work, earning a living, and establishing financial independence (Lambert & Firestone, 2000; Roschelle, 2008; Tolman & Raphael, 2000). Financial Abuse as a Distinct Form of Abuse In the United States, the pioneering research of Adams et al. (2008) and Stylianou et al. (2013) has yielded interesting results, making important con- tributions to the conceptualization of financial abuse by showing that it is a specific form of abuse, moderately correlated to the other forms, and Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1637 therefore should be treated as a distinct construct. Some research in the field of VAW considers financial abuse as a distinct form of abuse, at the same time trying to conceptualize financial abuse vis-à-vis other forms of abuse women suffer from in relationships with men (Kim, 2015; Sanders, 2015). Parallel to this emerging field of research, the United Nations has conceptual- ized financial abuse as a distinct form of abuse when discussing indicators of VAW (UNSTATS, 2010). Yet, when concluding that the low social and finan- cial status of women can be both a cause and a consequence of financial abuse, they do not discuss it as a distinct theme in their report (UNSTATS, 2010). As mentioned, financial abuse can affect women’s chances of finding work. In the following, Anna’s story brings evidence of how this form of abuse can be understood as a distinct form of VAW. Anna, who is a well- educated middle-class woman in her fifties, describes the complexity of financial abuse and how it has affected her. Asked about how her financial situation was at the time of her relationship, Anna says it was very good. She had just sold an apartment and was financially independent. However, as she had her own company where she received most of her orders through her ex- partners’ contacts, she was still dependent on him for her income. Anna’s business was successful for many years. Asked about how the rela- tion to her partner developed, Anna describes how his violent behavior started with him “pushing her down,” complaining she did not do her job, and claim- ing she was not capable of running a business. The ex-partner’s harassment continued and ended up in two incidents when he assaulted her. Then he and Anna separated, and she moved from the house they owned together. After the separation, they no longer worked together. The number of assignments declined, and when Anna did not manage to run her business anymore, her savings soon ended. She says, “He was kicking at my skills and that was what provided my living.” When her partner refused to pay the mortgage on the house, Anna thought she had no other option but to move back and stay with him until they man- aged to sell the house—which turned out to be difficult. After another inci- dent when he pressed a glass in her face, Anna moved again. During a period, she had to pay for the house, for long journeys to work and her rent. Anna’s savings then declined further. Now she says that her savings are gone, and she supports herself on a temporary employment. Anna’s experiences are an example of how VAW and financial abuse can result in loss of professional self-confidence, work opportunities, income, and material belongings. Her story supports previous research findings and fits well into the concept of “employment sabotage,” a form of financial abuse defined by Stylianou et al. (2013). Women frequently speak of being NP1638 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) subjected to different forms of employment sabotage in our material. Roschelle (2008) has found that a common tactic among abusive men is to harass their victims and their colleagues at work, putting victims’ jobs at risk. That is how Ellen lost her job. Repeatedly harassed at work by her ex-partner, her boss finally told her she had to quit. Maria, employed in home-care ser- vice, also had to resign from her job because of fear of her violent ex-partner who lived in the same area where she worked. Men’s employment sabotage can be long term, determining a woman’s entire professional life. In Mira’s case, it was a constant feature in her marriage to a violent husband, lasting more than 20 years: When we moved to [a city] I immediately got a job, worked there a couple of years . . . it was jealousy, everyday life was very difficult, it was hard all the time, he prevented me from working and studying . . . he became worse and worse, he wanted me at home, I was expected to take care of him. Women subjected to violence report difficulties in concentrating at work and having poor attendance at the workplace as an effect of being abused— which puts their jobs at risk (Adams et al., 2012). Conversely, Chronister (2007) argues that women with social and psychiatric problems seem to be more vulnerable to domestic violence because of their problems getting access to the labor market. As we have seen, Anna’s partner used the house mortgage as a tool to threaten her financial independence, and a device to make her more dependent on him, forcing her to move back to him. However, shortly afterward, he was beating her and she moved out again. Physically abused, Anna was forced into a situation that increased her expenses—and her vulnerability—when having to pay double rents, buy new furniture, increased expenses for travels, and so on. Altogether, Anna is an example of how financial abuse has its own character and consequences, sometimes independently of other forms of abuse, sometimes intertwined. Intersections of Financial Vulnerability In our analysis, we link the concept of continuum of violence to an intersec- tional perspective, recognizing that structural forms of oppression—such as men’s VAW—intersect not only with gender but also with structures such as class, race, ethnicity, functioning, sexuality, age, and civil status (e.g., Hetling, 2011; Hughes et al., 2015; Keskinen, 2011; Lindhorst et al., 2007; Mays, 2006; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). In recent years, researchers have criticized simplistic analyses of domestic violence, challenging stereotyped notions of battered women tainted by sexism, racism, and classism (Bograd, Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1639 2010; Johnson & Ferraro, 2000; Mays, 2006; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). For example, Donna Cocker shows how an unstated norm for battered women as White and nonpoor is constructed when policy or law neglects the relation between poverty and violence, and ignores racialized differences in battered women’s experiences. Consequently, abused women’s needs are constructed as primarily psychological rather than material (Cocker, 2010). Toni tells another story. Toni is a 24-year-old woman born in an African country who has lived in Sweden for 3 years. After fleeing an abusive husband, she is now isolated from friends and family. When asked whether there is anyone who can help her to get financial support, she says, “There is no one. My mother got no money; they are really poor in [an African country].” Toni has two children. One of them is newborn and the child of her abusive ex-husband. From our interviews, we conclude that lack of family support and other social networks makes women even more dependent on welfare and sometimes women’s shelters become their only support system—that lend them money, offer clothes and food, give advocacy support, and so forth. Toni was forced into a marriage with a man known to her family. He turned out to be an alcoholic and subjected her to different forms of violence, for example, physical and financial abuse. During their marriage, her hus- band was unemployed; they lived on social assistance and were in constant need of money. Toni’s husband borrowed money from friends, and he owed them money for buying him alcohol. Toni was trying to manage on the small income she received from state parental benefits. She also tried to save small amounts without affording anything for herself and hardly anything for her children. About her husband’s financial abuse, she says, He borrowed money all the time. When we had a little money he took everything and paid back to the people he owed money. I . . . we did not have so much money. I had a little account for savings in the bank. All the time he said to me: “Go fetch the money!” “Go fetch the money!” . . . But there was only a little money. I have brought some money to the bank. I go and I leave some money there. All the time [her husband says]: “Go fetch the money!” I mean there is only a little money in the bank. You know it is from the parental benefit and my child benefit. I only had one child before. I just use the money to buy food and go shopping to eat, nothing else. Toni says she is stressed because her family of origin now is in conflict with her ex-husband’s family. Her ex-husband also stresses her by being drunk when he spends time with the children, using his visitation rights. Toni feels that she does not get any support from the social services when com- plaining about her situation, and she does not understand the rules. NP1640 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) Nevertheless, the problem is not about Toni’s ability to understand. Rather, as Purvin (2007) argues, it is a policy failure when women “are not being informed of potential policy options that might have protected them or helped them leave an abusive situation” (p. 202). As with other women in our study, Toni’s story gives evidence of how men’s financial abuse deprives women of essential resources and housing (Branigan, 2004; Sanders, 2015). Toni has hardly any furniture in her apartment because she had to move hurriedly, and only managed to bring the TV and some basic clothes for her and the chil- dren. Nevertheless, Toni says she is better off financially after the separation than before. Similar paradoxical experiences are expressed by other women in our study, describing both experiences of the exploiting and damaging effects of financial abuse—making them poor, vulnerable, and dependent— and simultaneously feelings of relief, control, and self-esteem, being rehabili- tated as capable economic subjects in charge of their own (yet poor) finances. Tina, for example, who has to live on social assistance after escaping a violent partner, explains that she is better off now—despite being poor—than before, when her partner was stealing her money: “[I]f I had lived with him, and had a full-time-job, he would have been taking all my money.” Similar experiences are expressed by Fia, a 26-year-old woman with three small chil- dren, recently separated from their violent father who is addicted to gam- bling. She describes a financial situation filled with stress, where she has to pay a large amount of her monthly income for many years to come, because of the debt her husband has left her with. Nevertheless, Fia also expresses feelings of relief and of getting control: I know what I get every month . . . it’s my money . . . I make a budget for every month so I know I can save money if I don’t get anything from the unemployment insurance. Yet the situation for financially abused women can be complex and ambiv- alent. Sanders concludes that abusive men may continue to interfere even when their partners are gaining more financial resources and financial inde- pendence. Consequently, women are vulnerable to abuse “not only when their resources are low and their dependence high” (Sanders, 2015, p. 23). Studying a family context, Näsman et al. (2015) found that women experi- enced men’s ongoing financial abuse also after separation. For example, fathers refused to pay for their children, sabotaged women’s possibilities to receive welfare support, and delayed maintenance payments (Branigan, 2004; Bruno, 2016; Näsman et al., 2015). Taken together, problems in earn- ing money and a lack of financial resources—as consequences of VAW— make it difficult for women to start over and establish a household and an Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1641 economy of their own (Branigan, 2004; Strand Hutchinson & Weeks, 2004; Sanders, 2015). As in Sanders’s (2015) research, our material gives many examples of women who do not lack subjective agency when being subjected to financial abuse, but rather resist and respond to it in different ways. Toni, who both openly refused to obey her husband’s demands to make withdraw- als from her bank account, and secretly continued to save money even when the amounts were negligible and put under constant pressure from him, is just one example. The continuum of violence does not mean that financial abuse continues across time forever, without ending, but rather emphasizes that it seldom ceases to exist when the abusive relationship ends. Then financial abuse in the context of VAW can lead to a feminization of poverty within relationships that continues into abused women’s future, with material as well as social and psychological consequences. Whether the women in our study who are looking for work will find employment or not depends very much on their educational background. The Swedish labor market is characterized by high unemployment among unskilled workers, immigrants, and young people (SCB, 2014). Women earn- ing high wages also have greater significance for a family’s overall financial situation and are therefore “allowed” by husbands/partners to be financially active and gain experience in the labor market (Anderberg & Rainer, 2012). Class position also plays a role in how education can lead to a higher-paid job, greater life opportunities, and the ability to take charge of one’s financial situation (Postmus et al., 2012). This makes class a further issue, both during the relationship with an abusive partner and after leaving him. Despite the fact that VAW exists in all socioeconomic classes, and women share experiences of financial hardship in relations with abusive men, studies have shown that poverty is a high predictive risk factor, making poor women especially vulnerable to men’s violence in intimate relationships (Bassuk, Dawson, & Huntington, 2006; Tolman & Raphael, 2000). For example, women in low-paid jobs are less prone to break up from relationships to abu- sive men (Gelles, 1976), and when abused women do not have their own income or access to financial resources, their dependency increases and it becomes more difficult to leave (Sullivan, 1991; Weis et al., 2005). Being on welfare can be an additional risk factor. Research by Kurz (1998) shows that divorced women on welfare experience higher rates of male partner violence than any other group, and the poorer the woman is, the more serious is the violence she is subjected to. Many abused women feel they have no other choice than to return to abusive men, so as to make financial ends meet, while other women cannot even afford to leave (Weis et al., 2005). Nevertheless, our empirical findings support earlier research showing that irrespective of NP1642 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) socioeconomic background, financial hardship and financial dependency are major motivations for women enduring in relationships with violent men (Anderson & Saunders, 2003; Barnett, 2000; Purvin, 2007). How a financial situation—caused by an abusive man—can hinder women from leaving in other ways, is evident in Lea’s story. She says she was never afraid of leaving her husband because of fear of not managing financially on her own. Still, their financial situation and ideas about the importance of a stable economy for a happy marriage gave her “false hopes” of a better relationship to her husband and kept her from breaking up, thinking, If we only get a little better finances, we can do things together, and then he may feel a bit better too, and become who he was in the beginning of our relationship . . . our first year . . . he was a very nice person . . . you always had a hope it would be better if only the economic situation improved. Conclusion The theoretical framework in this study builds upon feminist theories of vio- lence and gender. Therefore, we use the concept “men’s violence against women” (VAW) and regard the gender relation as a relation of power where women structurally are socially and culturally subordinate to men. Consequently, gender inequality is considered a primary reason for the exis- tence of VAW, and VAW to be one way (of many others) to maintain, repro- duce, and restore the societal gender order (Hearn, 1998; Walby, 2002). Our results support feminist theory, suggesting that financial abuse in its different forms involves tactics and strategies for men to control women, curtailing their freedom and subjectivity. Financial abuse involves a repeated pattern of men controlling and limiting women’s ability to acquire, use, or maintain financial resources (Adams et al., 2008) with long-term effects such as pov- erty, ill health, and dependence for them and their children (Branigan, 2004). Financial abuse occurs and is experienced along a continuumof different types of financial abuse, categorized as economic control, employement sab- otage and economic exploitation (Postmus et al., 2012, p. 418). Often it is intertwined with other forms of violence such as sexual, physical, and psy- chological, and continuing over time. However, the continuum of violence does not mean that the financial abuse lasts forever, but reveals that it seldom ceases to exist when the relationship ends. Financial abuse and its effects can continue for a long time, into women’s future, and shape it with material as well as social, psychological, and medical consequences. The focus in the article has been on financial abuse. Nevertheless, despite the fact that financial abuse appears as a distinct category of violence in Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1643 women’s narratives of men’s violence, all the women in our study, besides being subjected to financial abuse, have also been exposed to other forms of men’s abuse and control. From the interviews, it is also evident how financial abuse and other forms of violence are intrinsically interdependent and mutu- ally reinforcing in women’s lives. Hence, our results support feminist theory showing that financial abuse in its different forms and interactions involves tactics and strategies for men to control women, curtailing their freedom and subjectivity (Branigan, 2004). Nevertheless, and in accordance with Sanders (2015), our results also demonstrate that women, despite their experiences of financial abuse, did not lack subjective agency, but also responded to and resisted financial abuse in different ways. We argue that financial abuse is connected to other forms of abuse and that this understanding gives the pos- sibility for a comprehensive understanding of VAW and different strategies used by abusive men. However, financial abuse is also a distinct form of abuse with its own characteristics, affecting women and children. Still, finan- cial abuse is widely underrecognized both in research and in society, making further research and policy necessary. The survivors in our study described how the financial exploitation and control they have been subjected to affect their ability to achieve a reasonable standard of living both during the relationship and long after the relationship had ended. Furthermore, their narratives are intertwined with other power relations than gender, showing that structures such as class and ethnicity also influence the effects and women’s experiences of financial abuse. In the interviews, women expressed experiences of being denied agency and sub- jectivity by men controlling and limiting their access to and use of financial resources in intimate relationships. Ending the relationship seldom stopped the financial abuse or its consequences, making it a form of abuse “to be continued.” This finding is supported by earlier research (see Branigan, 2004; Green, 2014; Postmus et al., 2012; Stylianou et al., 2013). Men’s VAW is a universal problem, existing in all levels, arenas, and social classes in society. Nevertheless, as critics of a universalistic approach have argued, women are differently positioned or situated, in relation to structures such as class, ethnicity, sexuality, and so on and therefore have both varied experiences of abuse and diverse needs of help and support (Crenshaw, 1993; Kandaswamy, 2010; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010; Weis et al, 2005). Applying intersectionality as a theoretical perspective means that we have analyzed financial abuse and financial dimensions of VAW as a com- plex social and political problem, not only based on gender inequality but also linked to other forms of oppression and vulnerabilities that intersect with gender and sexism (Chronister, 2007; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). Theoretically, this brings to the fore a need to reflect on universality in NP1644 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) relation to intersectionality and to move toward a “multiple gender” theory that recognizes differences both between genders and within genders (Connell, 1987; Crenshaw, 1993; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). As earlier research has shown, our results suggests that financial abuse con- tinues not only across time but also across space—from the private sphere into the public. For example there is research showing how state bureaucracies and their institutional practices and procedures mimic and support the perpetuation of men’s financial abuse—although often unconsciously (Branigan, 2004; Ulmestig & Eriksson, 2016). Survivors of VAW are also confronted with a lack of respect from social services, including “mind games,” extreme rudeness, and caseworkers “talking down” to them (Laakso & Drevdahl, 2006). We argue that the concept of continuum of violence can also be applied to these findings to highlight how women’s experiences of financial abuse in intimate relation- ships, in the private sphere, are inextricably intertwined with aspects of finan- cial abuse they experience in the public sphere, when confronting state bureaucracies. Analyses of financial abuse showing that the dichotomy between the public and private spheres is false (Branigan, 2004) further strengthen our suggestion to apply the concept of continuum of violence. As our model dem- onstrates (Figure 1), a continuum perspective on financial abuse can help us understand how different forms of financial abuse and different types of vio- lence intersect and are intertwined in women’s experiences of VAW, how finan- cial abuse has a continuum across time—and does not end with separation. Finally, we show how women’s experiences of financial abuse also are charac- terized by continuity across space, and work as a continuum between private and public spheres, different arenas and practices. The study has its limitations, especially due to its limited numbers of inter- views. However, the quality or impact of qualitative research should not be judged by its numbers but on the quality of the data and the analysis. Generalizing results, building on 19 interviews and from a specific context, is of course difficult but the study still adds cumulatively and theoretically to our understanding of women’s experiences on financial abuse and VAW. To deepen that knowledge, and to enable comparative analyses, there is a need for more research, for example qualitative analyses of financial abuse, how social welfare institutions handle it, and how women survivors of VAW in different welfare contexts experience it. The women in our study live in a country with, by international standards, a generous welfare state, a high level of formal gender equality, and relatively strong legal protection for victims of VAW. Regardless of whether the women interviewed have separated from their abusive partner or not, the financial abuse they have experienced most likely continues. To stop financial abuse—and other forms of VAW—and find sustainable solutions to the problem we argue that a Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1645 more comprehensive understanding of VAW and financial abuse is necessary. Our results make financial abuse visible also in generous welfare states and help researchers as well as social workers to see and act on the abuse. By unveiling the complexity in women’s experiences of financial abuse, we think that the distinction between financial abuse and nonabuse can be questioned and policy makers can be offered a tool to understand that financial abuse is a distinct form of abuse, but not separated from women’s experiences of other forms of abuse. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Figure 1. A model for a more comprehensive theoretical understanding of how different forms of financial abuse are intertwined in women’s lives, together with other forms of VAW, and how it continues across time and across different spheres/institutions. Note. VAW = violence against women. 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Pratt (Eds.), Domestic violence at the margins. Readings on Race, Class, Gender and Culture (pp. 227- 252). New York, NY: Rutgers University Press. Wendt Höjer, M. (2002). Rädslans politik: Våld och sexualitet i den svenska demokra- tin [The Politics of fear. Violence and Sexuality in Swedish Democracy]. Lund, Sweden: Liber. Author Biographies Marie Eriksson is a senior lecturer in social work at Linnaeus University, Sweden. She has a PhD in history, and her thesis is about marital discord and men’s violence against women in 19th-century Sweden. Her main research interest revolves around gender and violence—both in present and past times. At present, she is involved in a research project on financial abuse in the context of men’s violence against women. Together with Richard Ulmestig, she has recently published an article “Financial Consequences of Leaving Violent Men: Women Survivors of Domestic Violence and the Social Assistance System in Sweden” in European Journal of Social Work. In another research project, she is studying different forms of women’s violence in the 19th- and 20th-century Sweden. Rickard Ulmestig is a senior lecturer in social work at Linnaeus University, Sweden. His main research interest is in policy change and organizational change within the welfare state. He has published several studies within labor market policy, social assistance, and the specific welfare policy in the Nordic countries. He has, together with Ivan Harslöf, edited Changing Social Risks and Social Policy Responses in the Nordic Welfare States (Palgrave). He has lately started to study financial aspects on domestic violence and how these are handled by survivors of domestic violence and by the welfare state. https://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color https://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color Articles/Busch & Valentine, 2000 empowerment practice - a focus on battered women Affilia Spring 2000Busch and Valentine Empowerment Practice: A Focus on Battered Women Noël Bridget Busch and Deborah Valentine During the past two decades, empowerment theory has gained popu- larity as a way to develop social policy reforms, programs, and prac- tices related to oppressed and disenfranchised populations. This arti- cle applies the principles of empowerment practice to address the needs of battered women, and it discusses the implications for social work practice. Social work pioneers embodied empowerment practice as early as the 1890s (Ortiz, 1994; Parsons, Gutierrez, & Cox, 1998; Simon, 1994). During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, “the development of social work methods . . . reflected differences in perspective, from a focus on social control of the poor to an emphasis on self-determination and empowerment” (Parsons, Gutierrez, & Cox, p. 3). The most notable historical writing about empowerment practice in social work is Solomon’s (1976) Black Empowerment, which acknowledges the powerless- ness of African Americans and focuses on increasing their intrapersonal, interpersonal, economic, and political power as a means of increasing their capacity to influence decisions that affect their lives. Many scholars (see, e.g., Gutierrez, GlenMaye, & DeLois, 1995; Gutierrez, Parsons, & Cox, 1998; McGuire, 1994; Parsons, 1991) have expanded on Solomon’s (1976) work to include the empowerment of diverse populations, such as people with disabilities, women, gays and lesbians, the elderly, AFFILIA, Vol. 15 No. 1, Spring 2000 82-95 © 2000 Sage Publications, Inc. 82 youths, homeless people, residents of public housing, and families. In addition, feminists are credited with advancing empowerment theory because they, too, “reject either/or dual- isms and reification of privileged ‘truths’” (Bricker-Jenkins, 1994, p. 103). In the past two decades, empowerment practice has addressed issues of structural oppression and economic depri- vation (Evans, 1992; Rose, 1990), racism and stereotyping, sex- ism, and the marginalization of minority groups (Parsons, 1998; Simon, 1990), and it remains a popular method of inter- vention. It has gained momentum and support as the economic deprivation and discrepancies among nondominant groups in this country have become more evident and indisputable (Brenton, 1994; Gutierrez & Nurius, 1994). Although it is challenging to define empowerment theory, there is agreement that “the theory of empowerment is based on the assumption that the capacity of people to improve their lives is determined by their ability to control their environ- ment, namely, having power” (Hasenfeld, 1987, p. 478). According to Gutierrez, DeLois, and GlenMaye (1995), empowerment theory is rooted in three important elements: power, powerlessness, and oppression. Additional features of empowerment theory include the importance of engaging in activities to reduce the powerlessness that is created by nega- tive valuations of members of a stigmatized group (Solomon, 1976) and helping these persons exert “greater control and influence in their personal and professional lives” (Gitterman, 1994, pp. x-xi). To empowerment theorists, this power and con- trol are applicable at all systemic levels and must be considered in their cultural context (Bookman & Morgen, 1988; Rappaport, 1987). To Parr (as cited in Bricker-Jenkins, 1994), empowerment is the “ability to speak one’s own truths in one’s own voice and participate in the decisions that affect one’s life” (p. 97). Gutierrez, DeLois, et al. (1995) described intervention methods of empow- erment practice as basing the helping relationship on collaboration, trust and share power; utilizing small groups; accepting the client’s definition Busch and Valentine 83 of the problem; identifying and building on the client’s strengths; raising the client’s consciousness of issues of class and power; actively involving the client in the change process; teaching specific skills; . . . experiencing a sense of personal power within the helping relationship; and mobilizing resources or advocating for clients. (p. 535) People who are victims of violence are, by definition, involved in a power dynamic. Sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, and other forms of relationship violence stem from one person’s or group of people’s having power over others. Empowerment theory provides principles that are needed to inform empowerment practice with battered women. BATTERED WOMEN The battered woman’s movement emerged following the growth of the woman’s movement in the 1960s (GlenMaye, 1998), and since that time, advocates for battered women, who are often survivors themselves, have sought to empower vic- tims of domestic violence. The strategies of advocates have included providing services, such as shelters, economic assis- tance, and support groups, and influencing institutional change by working to establish severe penalties, mandatory arrest laws, and obligatory treatment and counseling services for batterers (Carlson, 1990). The social work profession considers women to be a popula- tion at risk because many women have limited access to resources and are systematically excluded from positions of power (Bookman & Morgen, 1988; GlenMaye, 1998; Hall, 1992; Hooyman, 1994). Furthermore, social workers have been and continue to be a central force in recognizing the vulnerability of battered women and responding to issues of power and power- lessness with services and arrangements to protect the women’s safety (Carlson, 1990; GlenMaye, 1998). Discrimina- tion, economic deprivation, and oppression prevent battered women from leaving their violent partners and contribute to women’s continued victimization. 84 Affilia Spring 2000 Research has indicated that domestic violence is a woman’s victimization issue, since 95% of the victims of domestic abuse in the United States are female and 95% of the perpetrators are male (Salber & Taliaferro, 1994). The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) (1995) estimated that a woman is assaulted every 9 sec- onds in this country and is six times more likely to be physically assaulted by her husband than by a stranger. The BJS estimated that 4 million women are battered each year by intimate part- ners (although many argue that this estimate is low) and that approximately 2,000 American women die at the hands of their abusers each year. Every year, approximately 6 million women suffer psycho- logical and physical health problems because of domestic abuse (Henderson, 1992), which cost employers about $55 mil- lion in lost wages and medical expenses every year (Salber & Taliaferro, 1994). Tilden (1989) reported that the injuries of 20% to 25% of the women who seek medical care in hospital emer- gency rooms are related to domestic assault and that 1 in 12 women patients at prenatal clinics are victims of domestic vio- lence. Moreover, the physical assaults often start or escalate during pregnancy (Salber & Taliaferro, 1994). Both the physical and mental health of battered women are compromised by the physical and emotional trauma that the women experience, including physical injuries and battered women’s greater tendency toward suicidality and addiction to drugs and alcohol. The financial losses that battered women sustain because of the violence perpetrated against them often result in poverty and homelessness for them and their children. Table 1 presents a typology of domestic violence that depicts the expression of oppression, stereotyping, powerlessness, and learned helplessness in the lives of battered women, based on patriarchal and hierarchical ideological belief systems and the attitudes and behaviors that the systems engender. Subsequent individual and community behaviors may include unrespon- siveness, gender inequality, and blaming and discriminating against battered women. Busch and Valentine 85 EMPOWERMENT PRACTICE WITH BATTERED WOMEN Powerless individuals or groups become empowered when they gain power and access to resources (Bookman & Morgen, 1988; Pinderhughes, 1983; Solomon, 1976, 1983; Staples, 1990). To help them achieve empowerment, social workers use four practice strategies: enabling, linking, catalyzing, and priming (Lum, 1996). Enabling involves identifying and recognizing the strengths of individuals or groups. Linking involves connect- ing individuals with others who share common histories, issues, and barriers. It is based on the assumption that “people and families can augment their own strengths by linking with others who can provide new perceptions and/or opportuni- ties” (Lum, p. 253). Catalyzing involves obtaining additional resources for individuals and families so that they can achieve independence and power on the assumption that these resources are “prerequisites to the family fully utilizing their existing resources” (Lum, p. 253). In priming, social workers act as brokers for individuals or families with systems that have been historically challenging and seek to educate the profes- sionals in these systems about the barriers and difficulties that disempowered individuals and families encounter. Table 2 illustrates the four strategies of empowerment prac- tice and presents some examples of empowering strategies 86 Affilia Spring 2000 TABLE 1: Framework for Understanding the Typology of a Battered Woman in a Hierarchical and Patriarchal System Ideological Belief System Attitude Behavior Expression Hierarchical “That’s the Unresponsiveness Oppression Patriarchal way it is.” Blaming the victim Powerlessness Apathy Gender inequalities Stereotyping Need to maintain Discrimination Learned the status quo helplessness NOTE: The typology presented here is based on Lum’s (1996, p. 178) typology for understanding oppression and was modified to illustrate oppression and powerlessness in the lives of battered women. with battered women at three systemic levels—the macrolevel (institutional), mezzolevel (interpersonal), and microlevel (intrapersonal)—consistent with the principles of empower- ment theory. Macrolevel Strategies Advocates for battered women often agree that societal macro- systems and events have consistently discouraged battered Busch and Valentine 87 TABLE 2: Strategies for Empowering Battered Women at the Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Institutional Levels Strategies Intrapersonal Interpersonal Institutional (microlevel) (mezzolevel) (macrolevel) Enabling Giving choices Providing support The Clothes Line Validating the groups Project situation Providing shelter Volunteer Providing support and positions for emotional support services for choices survivors Providing shelter and opportunities support Linking Reducing isolation Coalitions Developing State/national community advocacy groups resources Organizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month Catalyzing Providing economic Creating new domestic Funding assistance violence programs Conducting Providing Writing new research employment legislation Addressing assistance Expanding services issues of gender Providing to women and inequities transitional children housing Priming Appearing in court Helping families Violence with an advocate understand the education Assisting with impact of violence Skill training order of Public awareness (assertiveness, protection and education self-control, women from attaining optimal health, well-being, and power (Hilton, 1993). However, they also agree that certain elements of macrosystems have protected battered women from harm by providing shelter, making spouse abuse illegal, and placing domestic violence prominently on the public political agenda. For example, a 1991 survey (Roche & Sadoski, 1996) of 622 shel- ters for battered women in the United States found that, on average, the shelters had been in existence for 9 years. The sur- vey found that the shelters shared the following 15 common objectives: To secure battered women’s safety, to promote a violence-free life, to achieve self-sufficiency and independence, to increase the safe surroundings for battered women and their children, to increase access to material resources, to increase legal protec- tion, to reduce the battered women’s isolation, to change cul- tural beliefs and values that promote violence against women, to change institutional and community decisions that support individual men’s use of abusive tactics against women, to end violence against women, to create a model organization of shared power and leadership, to build a political movement of women, to increase the collective power of women, to end racism, and to end homophobia. (p. 18) The emergence of additional women’s shelters and domestic violence agencies has helped many battered women in their pursuit of physical, psychological, and emotional health and well-being. In addition, many federal organizations and state coalitions assist battered women and promote their well-being by addressing matters of legislation, education, training, and research. One goal is to educate and inform the public about battered women and the scope of the domestic violence prob- lem. Another goal is to seek justice in systems that deter victims from seeking services or filing charges against their abusers, misunderstand the complexity of domestic violence and the lives of women who are living in violent relationships, and compromise the health and well-being of victims. In September 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (U.S. Department of 88 Affilia Spring 2000 Justice, Violence Against Women Office, 1997). VAWA is the “most extensive support that the federal government has ever committed to improve, expand, and enhance services and com- munity responses to battered women” (Roche & Sadoski, 1996, p. 13). The Violence Against Women Office of the U.S. Depart- ment of Justice is responsible for supporting battered women and domestic violence agencies through lobbying and legisla- tive advocacy to protect battered women and to hold batterers accountable for their violence and through providing funding to state programs. In March 1995, President Clinton “announced $26 million in S*T*O*P* grants to states to bolster their law enforcement, prosecution, and victim services, to bet- ter address the violence against women” (U.S. Department of Justice, Violence Against Women Office, pp. 2-3). The federal government’s increased commitment to ameliorating the prob- lem is aimed at keeping more women safe from violence in their homes. Microlevel and Mezzolevel Strategies Practitioners and researchers maintain that battering behavior reflects issues of power and control. Thus, the successful imple- mentation of the four strategies of empowerment is expected to result in changes at the microlevel and mezzolevel, as well as at the macrolevel. Four psychological changes occur in empow- ered individuals or groups: increased self-efficacy, the devel- opment of group consciousness, decreased self-blame, and the assumption of personal responsibility (Evans, 1992; Gutierrez, DeLois, & Glenmaye, 1995; Lum, 1996). Self-efficacy. Bandura (1982, p. 122) defined self-efficacy as the belief in one’s ability to “produce and to regulate events in one’s own life.” Self-efficacy and a sense of competence develop as a person gains self-confidence (Evans, 1992). Women who are routinely abused by their husbands or part- ners report having little confidence in their ability to escape their tormentors (Mechanic, 1995). Walker (1979) suggested that battered women remain in abusive relationships because Busch and Valentine 89 they cannot predict what will happen when they leave the rela- tionships, and thus, they believe that staying is safer than leav- ing. Battered women’s sense of self-efficacy, self-perception, and self-control (or lack thereof) are the foundations of the the- ory of learned helplessness (Seligman, 1975). An empowering belief is feeling like a survivor, rather than a victim. Group consciousness. Group consciousness, “an awareness of how political structures affect individual and group experi- ences” (Lum, 1996, p. 250), develops when members of a pow- erless group begin to recognize shared feelings and experi- ences. Many battered women report both perceived and actual isolation from family members, friends, and support systems (including their religious or spiritual leaders). This sense of iso- lation often perpetuates and exacerbates domestic violence (Walker, 1979). The women do not talk about the abuse because their families, friends, and others blame them for the violence or do not believe that the assaults have occurred or do not believe that they are as severe as the woman describe. These reactions, in addition to shame and embarrassment, are often enough to keep battered women from seeking help. An empowering belief for battered women is that they are not alone. Reduced self-blame. When battered women are empowered, they are “freed from feeling responsible for their negative situation” (Lum, 1996, p. 251). Thus, decreasing self-blame is a critical step in empowerment practice with battered women. Many battered women believe that the abuse is their fault (Walker, 1979; Wood & Middleman, 1992). An empowering belief is that they are not responsible for the violence and rage of their abusers. Assumption of personal responsibility. As Lum (1996) noted, “clients who do not feel responsible for their problems may not invest their efforts in developing solutions unless they assume some personal responsibility for future change” (p. 251). Assuming personal responsibility is different from 90 Affilia Spring 2000 assuming blame for the abuser’s behavior. Battered women who feel powerless frequently see themselves as helpless. An empowerment belief is for battered women to begin taking responsibility for their future by actively attempting to change their situations. Psychological Dimensions of Empowerment Table 3 illustrates the four psychological dimensions of empowerment, and it presents examples of women at the pre- empowerment level and those who are empowered at the three systemic levels. Battered women who are regaining some power and control begin to make statements that depict new strengths and capacities. For example, the statement, “it is not my fault,” depicts an empowered woman who no longer accepts responsibility for her abuser’s brutal behavior and rec- ognizes that she can do little to control his violence. CONCLUSION Hall (1992) suggested that “empowering changes in women’s attitudes result in new values that motivate [women] to partici- pate more actively in broader social contexts” (p. 97). Moreo- ver, research has indicated that empowering battered women enables them to escape violence in their lives (Davis & Srini- vasan, 1995; GlenMaye, 1998; Stout & McPhail, 1998; Tutty, 1996; Walker, 1994; Wood & Middleman, 1992). This article has shown how the principles of empowerment practice may be used to gain a better understanding of, and to collaborate with, battered women and to comprehend the typology of battered women in the current context of violence against women. The four primary empowering strategies can be translated into practice techniques for work with and on behalf of battered women at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutional levels and at the four steps (increasing self-efficacy, attaining group consciousness, reducing self-blame, and assuming responsibility) in the empowerment process. Moreover, they Busch and Valentine 91 TABLE 3: Steps and Levels of Empowerment: Statements by a Battered Woman Preempowerment Intrapersonal Interpersonal Institutional Step Statement (microlevel) (mezzolevel) (macrolevel) Efficacy “I am a victim.” “I will survive.” “We will overcome.” “We can make a “I can’t change my “I am a survivor, not difference.” situation.” a victim.” Group “I am alone.” “I am not alone.” “We will be most “There are many consciousness “No one else “I can’t control my successful when we institutions and understands my batterer’s behavior.” can help each other.” systems that serve or situation.” should serve battered women.” Reducing “It’s my fault; if only “It is not my fault.” “Domestic violence occurs “Laws need to be self-blame I wouldn’t make in many relationships.” changed to protect him mad.” “Domestic violence crosses women and their economic, racial, cultural, children.” and ethnic boundaries.” Assuming “I can’t do anything “I have to protect “I need to help my sisters.” “We have to raise responsibility to change my myself.” consciousness and situation.” awareness.” 92 are based on the recognition that violence against women is a complex social problem and not the effect of individual women’s deficits. 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Busch and Valentine 95 Articles/Doyle, 2020 experiences of IPV - psychological, economic, physical, and sexual violence Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Women's Studies International Forum journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/wsif Experiences of intimate partner violence: The role of psychological, economic, physical and sexual violence Jessica Leigh Doyle⁎ Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland A B S T R A C T This article investigates women's experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) in relation to psychological, economic, physical and sexual violence. It does so based on qualitative findings from 63 semi-structured interviews with women victim/survivors of IPV from across Northern Ireland. The article presents key findings from these interviews and compares them with the quantitative findings from a recent pan-European Union (EU) study on violence against women (VAW). The findings reveal the myriad experiences of psychological, economic, physical and sexual violence endured by women in IPV relationships many of which have been overlooked in existing research and by the pan-EU study. The implications of these findings for research and policy are then discussed. Introduction and literature review The current Northern Ireland government strategy which deals with the issue of intimate partner or domestic violence (hereafter IPV) de- fines IPV as ‘threatening, controlling, coercive behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, virtual, physical, verbal, sexual, financial or emotional) inflicted on anyone (irrespective of age, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or any form of disability) by a current or former intimate partner or family member’ (Department of Justice, 2016). This definition reflects the main aspects incorporated in most contemporary international definitions of IPV. While research shows that both women and men experience and perpetrate IPV, overall it appears that women are far more likely to be seriously injured and/or murdered by a male partner and more likely to experience economic and sexual IPV (Breiding et al., 2008; Hamberger and Larsen, 2015). IPV is increasingly recognised as a global public health and human rights issue, affecting the lives of 15–75% of women worldwide (Garcia- Moreno et al., 2006). Over the last few decades, research has identified a wide range of serious and often long term negative consequences of IPV for victim/survivors' physical and mental well-being, including injuries, digestive problems, hypertension, depression, anxiety, loss of self-esteem and isolation (Campbell et al., 2002; Matheson et al., 2015; Pico-Alfonso et al., 2006). To date, the most comprehensive large-scale study to explore in- dividual experiences of the main forms of IPV, namely psychological, economic, physical and sexual IPV among women is the 2014 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU FRA) survey. This survey incorporated the experiences of 42,000 women from across each of the 28 EU member states and found that 43% of them had experienced psychological IPV, 20% physical IPV, 12% economic/financial IPV (hereafter economic IPV) and 7% sexual IPV from a current and/or former intimate partner (EU FRA, 2014). As the survey also recorded specific experiences across each of these dimensions it provides a va- luable context and point of comparison for our qualitative findings on experiences of psychological, economic, physical and sexual IPV among women living in Northern Ireland and is thus referenced throughout the results section of this article. No comparative study to the EU FRA study exists for Northern Ireland and the closest we have is the Northern Ireland Crime Survey (NICS, 2011/12-2015/16)1 which recorded IPV prevalence rates of 12%, 10%, 5% and 2% respectively for psycholo- gical, physical, economic and sexual IPV among women surveyed (Department of Justice, 2013). In general, however, the NICS went into considerably less depth than the EU FRA survey, a factor which may explain the lower prevalence rates of all forms of IPV recorded by the NICS when compared to the EU FRA survey, including the UK specific EU FRA survey findings. Within this context, it is also worth noting that the official prevalence rate of IPV recorded by Northern Ireland's leading voluntary organization addressing IPV (Women's Aid Federa- tion) is far higher than the NICS figure, around one in every four ever- partnered women (Women's Aid n.d.) and even that is possibly an under-estimation given that barriers to seeking support often exist for victim/survivors of IPV (see, for example Fugate et al., 2005) . Empirical studies on psychological IPV reinforce the findings from the EU FRA survey that psychological IPV is the most prevalent form of https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2020.102370 Received 13 November 2018; Received in revised form 16 August 2019; Accepted 15 April 2020 ⁎ Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University, Jordanstown campus, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim BT37 0QB, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland E-mail address: jessicadoyle85@gmail.com. 1 A personal interview survey with 1975 adults (over the age of 16) from across Northern Ireland. Women's Studies International Forum 80 (2020) 102370 Available online 15 May 2020 0277-5395/ © 2020 Published by Elsevier Ltd. T http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/02775395 https://www.elsevier.com/locate/wsif https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2020.102370 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2020.102370 mailto:jessicadoyle85@gmail.com https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2020.102370 http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1016/j.wsif.2020.102370&domain=pdf IPV (Barnawi, 2017; Carney and Barner, 2012). Moreover, several studies have found psychological IPV to be an almost universal ex- perience among women victim/survivors. For instance, Stylianou (2018) found that almost 97% of 457 women victim/survivors of IPV surveyed had experienced psychological IPV. Studies have also found that psychological IPV is often a precursor to other forms of IPV and tends to co-occur alongside them. Coker et al. (2000) and Follingstad et al. (1990) both found that woman who reported physical IPV had all also experienced psychological IPV, although psychological IPV fre- quently occurred without physical IPV. Finally, several studies have noted the serious negative consequences of psychological IPV for victim/survivors' long-term mental health (Coker et al., 2000; Straight et al., 2003), including one study by Matheson et al. (2015) which found that most victim/survivors of IPV considered psychological IPV to be more damaging to their long-term mental health than physical IPV despite research and policy focus on the latter. Goldsmith and Freyd (2005) found that a consequence of this focus on physical IPV over psychological IPV is that victim/survivors of psychological IPV often do not recognise psychological IPV. Even fewer studies have explored victim/survivor experiences of economic IPV and indeed economic IPV is often excluded even from definitions of IPV (including the World Health Organization (WHO) definition). Most large-scale quantitative studies (including the EU FRA survey) which have included economic IPV have recorded low pre- valence rates of it, a finding which has reinforced a view that economic IPV is less important than other dimensions of IPV. However, findings from those studies which have comprehensively examined economic IPV have challenged this view, as have the testimonies of victim/sur- vivors of IPV and those who work with them (Gibbs et al., 2018; Sanders, 2015). These studies and testimonies suggest that economic IPV is far more prevalent than often thought and draw attention to the serious consequences of economic IPV for victim/survivors. For ex- ample, 93% of participants in Stylianou's (2018) study had experienced economic IPV, making it more prevalent than physical IPV. The reason for the tendency of surveys to under-record economic IPV, argues Sty- lianou is that most do not measure all of the main forms of economic IPV. These are where a perpetrator controls a victim/survivor's access to economic resources, where they sabotage a victim/survivor's ability to obtain and maintain employment, and where they exploit a victim/ survivor's personal economic situation (Postmus et al., 2016; Postmus et al., 2016). Concerning the impact of economic IPV, studies have found that economic IPV has serious consequences for mental health and one study by Gibbs, Dunkle and Jewkes (2018) found that women who experienced economic IPV were more likely to report suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms than those who experienced physical or sexual IPV only, although the highest levels were observed among women who experienced all forms of IPV together. Physical IPV has been the main focus of research, policy and public attention on IPV and a result of this has been the side-lining of psy- chological, economic and sexual IPV. On this basis, the focus here is mainly on these lesser studied forms of IPV rather than repeating the extensive literature on physical IPV (see Archer, 2002 for a meta ana- lytic review). However, several aspects of this literature are worth highlighting in the context of this article. First, like the other forms of IPV, physical IPV is strongly associated with poor outcomes in terms of victim/survivor physical and mental health (Coker et al., 2002). Second, research shows that physical IPV is often very serious; in Northern Ireland in 2016/17 alone domestic homicides accounted for one in every four murders, manslaughters and attempted murders (PSNI, 2018). Third, while a few studies suggest that women and men experience physical IPV at similar rates, research and national statis- tical data shows that women are far more likely to be serious injured or killed by their partner during an assault (Kimmel, 2002). Finally, most studies on physical IPV have found that less grave forms of physical IPV and being pushed or shoved in particular are the most prevalent ex- periences of physical IPV and several studies show that other forms of IPV may be more damaging to victim/survivors' physical and mental health than physical IPV. This is not to detract from the obvious im- portance of understanding physical IPV, but rather to highlight the value of studying physical IPV alongside other, less researched di- mensions of IPV. Most research and legislation on sexual VAW, both locally and in- ternationally has dealt with sexual violence perpetrated by unknown men (Bagwell-Gray et al., 2015). This is despite evidence suggesting that, at a minimum, intimate partners commit one third of all sexual assaults (Bagwell-Gray et al., 2015). Moreover, while research on sexual violence has often overlooked the issue of intimate partner sexual violence (IPSV), research on IPV has too often overlooked victim/survivor experiences of sexual IPV. Partly, this is a product of the relatively recent recognition of IPSV as a social and health problem, as martial rape exemptions—by which a man could not be convicted of rape if the victim was his wife— existed in most countries throughout the 20th century (Bennice and Resick, 2003). Connected to this has also been the persistence of societal stigma on issues of sexual violence more generally. The consequences of this are the aforementioned tendency in research to overlook IPSV but also a lack of recognition of IPSV even among victim/survivors. For instance, Logan et al. (2007) found that women in their study simultaneously stated that they had never ex- perienced IPSV while also recounting instances where they had woken up to their partner having sexual intercourse with them and the British Crime Survey (2001; see Walby and Allen, 2004) found that only 28% of participants who had experienced rape from a current or former intimate partner described their experience as ‘rape’. This difficulty in identifying sexual violence when it is committed by an intimate partner is further compounded where experiences of IPSV do not conform to prosecutable crimes, such as where a woman engages in sexual activity against her will as part of an endeavour to prevent a violent outburst, appease her partner or for some other similar purpose (Bagwell-Gray, Messing and Baldwin-White 2015.). Research suggests that this is the most prevalent experience of IPSV among women and that that these experiences are physically and mentally harmful, although they are routinely ignored in policy and legislation (Maharaj and Munthree, 2007; Salwen et al., 2015). However, despite the scale and impact of IPV, it remains largely under-reported and relatively under-researched in key areas. This ar- ticle contributes to research and knowledge in two of these areas. First, it contributes to the limited literature which examines victim/survivor experiences of IPV across each of the four main dimensions of IPV, namely psychological, economic, physical and sexual IPV. Although a great deal of literature has explored victim/survivor experiences of IPV, most literature has focused on one dimension of IPV, usually physical IPV and it is evident there is a shortage of studies which explore psy- chological, economic and sexual IPV. Even fewer studies have examined all four dimensions of IPV together within the same population. Understanding these lesser studied dimensions of IPV is vital for the development of evidence-based policy measures to address them, while a holistic analysis of IPV provides a full picture of victim/survivor ex- periences and the relationship between these experiences. Second, the article contributes to qualitative knowledge on victim/survivor ex- periences of IPV which has been lacking as most studies have taken a quantitative approach. Yet, qualitative research has several notable advantages over quantitative research which make it particularly va- luable for understanding victim/survivor experiences of IPV. To give one example, qualitative methodologies typically provide more time and opportunity to explain and explore subject materials, which may be beneficial when dealing with sensitive or not well understood issues like IPV.2 A final contribution of the article is to the local literature, as the study represents the first comprehensive study of victim/survivor 2 See Berg and Lune (2012) for a comprehensive account of the advantages of qualitative research. J.L. Doyle Women's Studies International Forum 80 (2020) 102370 2 experiences of IPV in Northern Ireland for over two decades (see McWilliams and McKiernan 1993). Within that context, the core ob- jective of the article is to examine women's experiences of IPV. Speci- fically, the article asks what are women's experiences of IPV in relation to psychological, economic, physical and sexual violence? Methodology Sampling and participants The research was qualitative and relied mainly on open-ended semi- structured interviews with women victim/survivors of IPV from across Northern Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were preferred as they afford participants a high level of autonomy in describing their ex- periences, while still offering consistency across themes and strong cross-checking potential. A non-probability sampling strategy was em- ployed to identify potential participants, taking care to include women3 from across different age groups,4 locations, and religious, ethnic and economic backgrounds.5 This produced a final sample of 63 women victim/survivors of IPV. Most participants (87%) had left the violent relationship at the time of interview although eight (13%) remained in the violent relationship. Some key background details of participants are shown in Table 1. This larger than average qualitative sample size6 was intentionally sought as comprehensive qualitative studies with victim/survivors of IPV are relatively scarce. Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland partnered the research, assisting with the recruitment of participants through their refuges and outreaches centres and pro- viding fully qualified emotional and practical support to participants throughout the study. Ensuring the provision of this support and safe- guarding participant well-being was a high priority of the research, which gained full ethnical approval from the University ethics com- mittee. Materials and procedure The research was part of a larger, comparative study on IPV in Northern Ireland between 2016 and 1992. The larger study explored the following key themes: (1) participant experiences of psychological, economic, physical and sexual IPV, (2) the impact of IPV on physical and psychological well-being, (3) the impact of the Northern Ireland socio-political and economic context on IPV and (4) participant ex- periences of help seeking for IPV from informal (e.g. family and friends) and formal (e.g. statutory and voluntary) sources. These themes in- formed the development of interview guides and coding and analysis of results. This article focuses on the first theme, namely participant ex- periences of psychological, economic, physical and sexual IPV.7 The interview questions for this theme were intentionally designed to reflect questions asked by the EU FRA survey (2014) and by the aforemen- tioned 1992 study to allow for comparative analysis. A list of sample interview questions for this theme are provided in Table 2. The authors also enquired of participants whether any experiences of IPV were missed by the interview questions, so to ensure these experiences were included in the analysis. The length of interviews ranged from 36 to 105 min and the mean length was 66 min. Most interviews (60 of 63) were recorded using a digital recorded and where a participant did not want their interview recorded detailed notes were taken during the interview instead. In order to ensure the safety of participants, protect their right to privacy and increase openness and frankness the anonymity of participants was maintained at all stages. Upon completion of interviews they were transcribed verbatim and a series of codes organised according first to the aforementioned main themes and second to a set of subsequent sub- themes drawn from the research questions, interview questions and main debates in the literature were used as a template for analysing data. Each transcript was assigned a random number between one and 63 and reviewed in-depth. In each instance where an issue was men- tioned, the corresponding interview number was inserted next to the relevant code in an Excel spreadsheet. For example, if participant number ‘1’ reported that they had been followed/stalked by their partner than the number ‘1’ was inserted next to ‘Followed/stalked e Yes’ in the coding spread sheet. Coding in this way ensured that the analysis was data driven, while quantifying the qualitative data high- lighted common themes and their prevalence and reduced the possi- bility of researcher bias, thus adding to the robustness of the study. Results Types of IPV experienced Participants described their experiences of IPV as a range of assaults that were psychological, economic, physical and sexual. Table 3 offers a comparison of prevalence rates of these dimensions of IPV as found by our study and by the EU FRA survey. It is important to state at the outset that the EU survey was a general population survey including both victim/survivors of IPV and non-victims whereas our study in- cluded IPV victim/survivors only. This means that the prevalence rates recorded by our study are, naturally, higher. Nonetheless, it beneficial Table 1 Background information on study participants (%). From Age group Religious background Northern Ireland (75%; 47/ 63) 18–29 years (14%; 9/ 63) Catholic (44%; 28/63) Irish Travellers (6%; 4/63) 30–39 (19%; 12/63) Protestant (38%; 24/63) England (6%; 4/63) 40–49 (30%; 19/63) Mixed Catholic- Protestant (5%; 3/63) Eastern Europe (6%; 4/63) 50–59 (17%; 11/63) Muslim (3%; 2/63) Middle East North Africa (3%; 2/63) 60–69 (17%; 11/63) Other unlisteda (6%; 4/ 63) Asia (3%; 2/63) 70+ (2%; 1/63) Baptist (2%; 1/63) Methodist (2%; 1/63) a This is listed as ‘other’ as it refers to individual participants who are from religious backgrounds with a very low representation in Northern Ireland and therefore providing their religious backgrounds risks jeopardising their anon- ymity. Table 2 Sample interview questions for experiences of IPV. • Has/did your husband/partner ever made you feel bad about yourself? In what ways? • Is/was your husband/partner ever physically violent? In what ways?• Did your husband/partner ever make you take out loans for his benefit and left you in debt? • Did you ever have sexual intercourse when you did not want to because you were afraid of what your husband/partner might do? 3 In order to maintain methodological consistency with the EU FRA study, the study focused only on women's experiences of IPV. 4 For ethical reasons no women/girls under the age of 18 were interviewed. 5 One group of women who were not included in the study were LGB&T women. The reason for this was that there were very few LGB&T women in domestic violence refuges and outreach centres in Northern Ireland at the time of the research and none we approached were willing to participate in the study. This means that the experiences of these women are not included in the study and this is a limitation of the study. 6 Mason (2010) found that the median sample size of qualitative studies is 20 to 30. 7 For a discussion of research findings for the other themes see Doyle and McWilliams (2020) and Doyle and McWilliams (2018). J.L. Doyle Women's Studies International Forum 80 (2020) 102370 3 to consider these results together as the qualitative results from Northern Ireland expand upon, challenge and provide depth to what the EU quantitative data in many places suggests. It is evident that 98% of participants in our study reported experi- encing psychological IPV, 75% economic IPV, 71% physical IPV and 51% sexual IPV although the prevalence of sexual IPV is considerably higher (71%) if participants who consented to sexual intercourse against their will due to fear of their partner are included. Participant experiences of these different dimensions of IPV are discussed in detail in the sub-sections that follow but there are three important observa- tions concerning the overall prevalence figures worth highlighting. First, there is consensus between our findings and those of the EU FRA survey that psychological IPV is the most prevalent form of IPV. Indeed, for our study psychological IPV was an almost universal experience of IPV insofar as while the prevalence of economic, physical and sexual IPV varied, almost every study participant (98%) reported experiencing psychological IPV. Second, our study and the EU FRA survey differ with respect to the second most prevalent form of IPV; for our study this was economic IPV whereas for the EU FRA survey it was physical IPV. Third, sexual IPV was much more prominent in our study compared to the EU FRA survey; over half the participants in our study reported sexual IPV compared to only a minority in the EU FRA survey. One possible explanation for the higher prominence of both economic and sexual IPV in our study is that these experiences were under-reported in the EU study. The evidence to support this is discussed in the relevant sub-sections. Psychological IPV As mentioned above, psychological IPV was the most prevalent form of IPV reported by participants in our study. Given that all participants were victim/survivors of IPV this finding indicates that psychological IPV is a consistent feature of IPV relationships, an argument also sup- ported by Stylianou (2018) and Pico-Alfonso et al.'s (2006) findings. Table 4 shows the full range of experiences of psychological IPV re- ported by our study participants, as well as the prevalence of these experiences for the EU FRA study where recorded. The most common experience of psychological IPV for our study was being belittled or made to feel bad about oneself by a partner, reported by 98% of participants. The following extract provides a ty- pical example of these accounts: ‘He would always put me down; saying “you can't do this”, “you don't know how to do that”...“you're not going to wear that”… or “you're putting on weight.”’ (Interview 34, April 2016). In addition to being the most prevalent IPV experience, many par- ticipants reported that being belittled was one of their worst experi- ences of IPV. Indeed, most participants who had experienced both being belittled and physically assaulted by their partner said that they found the former worse and longer lasting in its affect: ‘[I]t stays with you, the comments and the nastiness, goes deeper and [is] harder because if they hit you, they hit and it's done…but mental abuse is in your brain all the time’ (Interview 8, February 2016)’. This is interesting because it contradicts the commonly held view that psychological IPV is less serious than physical IPV and because it reflects the findings from several other studies on psychological IPV (Al- Modallal, 2012; Matheson et al., 2015; Naughton et al., 2017). The findings on psychological IPV also reveal the extent of control exerted by perpetrators in IPV relationships. This has become an issue of importance in research and subsequently policy in recent years (Department of Justice, 2016; Stark, 2009). In 2015 England and Wales introduced a specific offence to capture patterns of control and coercion in intimate partner relationships, followed by Scotland in 2018. The introduction of this offence is significant as it arguably represents one of the most significant attempts to align criminal justice responses to IPV with feminist conceptual understandings of IPV and with experiences of IPV as reported by victim/survivors (Burman and Brooks-Hay, 2018). However, Northern Ireland has yet to introduce a similar offence, al- though in July 2019 it was confirmed that the government in West- minster intends to extend the legislation to Northern Ireland and in Table 3 Prevalence of violence by intimate partner. Type of IPV NI study (IPV victim/ survivors only) EU FRA survey (General population) Psychological violence 98% (62/63) 43% Economic violence 75% (47/63) 12% Physical violence 71% (45/63) 20% Sexual violence 51% (32/63) 7% Table 4 Experiences of psychological IPV. Experience NI study (IPV victim/survivors only) EU FRA survey (General population) Insulted/Belittled/made feel bad about self 98% (62/63) 25% Partner restricted her contact with friends 86% (54/63) 12% Restricted her contact with family 86% (54/63) 19% Insisted on knowing whereabouts in a way that goes beyond general concern 76% (48/63) 23% Accused her of being unfaithful 68% (43/63) 23% Got angry if she spoke with another man/woman 65% (42/63) 21% Threatened to hurt her physically 62% (39/63) 14% Forbid her from leaving the house, took away her keys or locked her in/out of house 56% (35/63) 5%a Her calls/texts/internet monitored/restricted 56% (35/63) – Followed/stalked 48% (30/63) 10% Threatened to take her children 46% (29/63) 7% Sent her abusive text messages 32% (20/63) – He threatened suicide if she left 29% (19/63) – Threatened to hurt children 25% (16/63) 3% Threatened to hurt someone else she cares about 25% (16/63) 3% Turned children against her 14% (9/63) – Chose/restricted what she was wearing 11% (7/63) – Made her think she was ‘going crazy’ 10% (6/63) – Partner threatened to hurt pet 6% (4/63) – Religious abuse (Forced to pray, prevented from practicing religion) 3% (2/63) – a For the EU FRA being locked out of the house was not included here. J.L. Doyle Women's Studies International Forum 80 (2020) 102370 4 April 2020 the Bill moved to the second stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly.8 Returning to the qualitative research findings from Northern Ireland, the most prevalent experience of control reported was where a partner restricted a victim/survivors' contact with their family and friends, reported by 86% of participants. Striking was reports by most participants that this was carried out surreptitiously by their partner and that consequentially they did not initially or even for a long time recognise this form of control: “You know when people say ‘did he keep you from your friends?’ It's not like he said ‘you are not going out with that friend’… [rather], he would say things like ‘she's a bad influence on you’, or ‘she said such-and-such about you’...and I wouldn't be friends with her [anymore]. Then it would be another person …and before you knew it, I was on my own.” (Interview 31, March 2016). This was also often the case where a perpetrator insisted on knowing a victim/survivor's whereabouts (76%) and/or monitored her calls, texts and/or internet (56%). Indeed, several participants said that they initially mistook these actions as a sign of affection: ‘Looking back, I knew there was something wrong, but...I thought he was just trying to make me stay with him all the time because he loves me.’ (Interview 7, February 2016). These findings are important as they suggest a lack of public knowledge on more subtle aspects of psychological IPV, which needs to be addressed. Other common experiences of psychological IPV reported include being threatened by a partner (physically or emotionally), followed and/or stalked, forbidden or reprimanded for speaking to other men and women (particularly men) and/or having ones freedom restricted, for instance by not being allowed to leave home or having ones clothes chosen. The following extracts provide examples of this and highlight the level of control faced by participants: “From eight in the morning to 12 at night my phone beeped con- stantly with [messages like] ‘where are you?’...‘who are you with?’…He would keep me on the phone for six, seven hours just to be sure I was not going out.” (Interview 47, May 2016). ‘He would cry and say that he was going to kill himself if I left and it was my fault if he dies. He went into the garage one time with a rope and said he was going to do it and I would be worried and thinking poor him’ (Interview 30, March 2016). Comparing our qualitative findings to those of the EU FRA survey, there are three aspects which warrant further comment. First, the main experience of psychological IPV, namely being belittled or insulted is consistent between the studies. This finding is significant because it reinforces the argument made previously that this is a prevailing ex- perience of IPV. Second, the studies differ considerably with respect to a partner restricting a victim/survivors' contact with their friends or fa- mily. These experiences emerged as conjointly the second most pre- valent experiences of psychological IPV in our study but feature much further down the list as sixth and eight for the EU study. One ex- planation for this suggested by our findings is that these experiences were not identified and thus reported by many participants in the EU FRA study. Third, several experiences of psychological IPV recorded by our study were not recorded by the EU FRA study, including having ones' calls, texts and/or internet monitored, being sent abusive text messages, where a partner threatened suicide if she left and where he threatened to hurt their/her children (among others; see Table 4). That these experiences were often prevalent in our study suggests that the EU FRA survey misses key experiences of psychological IPV. Interestingly, most of these experiences were raised independently by participants in our study, often when they were asked if there were any additional experiences of psychological IPV not included in interview questions. This highlights the value of qualitative research over quantitative sur- veys in capturing the full range of victim/survivor experiences of IPV. Economic IPV There has been a shortage of research on economic IPV and it has rarely been addressed in policy (Gibbs et al., 2018; Sanders, 2015). Yet, the studies which do examine economic IPV have found that it is more common than acknowledged and has significant negative consequences for victim/survivors, including mental health problems and poverty (Gibbs et al., 2018; Sanders, 2015). Economic IPV was reported by 75% of participants in our study and featured as the second most prevalent dimension of IPV overall. Table 5 shows the main experiences of eco- nomic IPV for our study and the EU FRA survey. The most prevalent form of economic IPV for our study was ex- cessive economic control, reported by 63% of participants. Common examples of this were where a perpetrator controlled all finances and/ or where they required a participant to hand over their income, to al- ways ask for money including for household expenses, and/or to submit receipts for all spending. The following extracts provide some examples: ‘Any money I needed I had to ask him…I couldn't have taken money from my account [and] my [ATM] card was always with him… Even if it was ten pounds I would've had to explain what I used it [for].’ (Interview 32, April 2016). ‘He controlled all the money. If he left me money for shopping, I still had to bring the receipt to show him how much I spent and what I bought and…when I was working all of my money went to him, my money was his money too.’ (Interview 24, March 2016). The second most prevalent experience of economic IPV was being prevented from making financial decisions, reported by 46% of parti- cipants. For the most part this issue was raised during discussions of a partner's excessive economic control and the two experiences linked. The most common experiences of this were being excluded from all financial decision making and/or being prevented from shopping in- dependently: ‘He controlled everything … He decided to buy the car, to buy the TV, whatever. I didn't ever have a say in anything…He even wrote the shopping list [for me].’ (Interview 30, March 2016). All participants who reported economic control by a partner ex- plicitly connected it to other controlling behaviour and to psychological control in particular, a finding which highlights how the different di- mensions of IPV are linked. Thirty eight per cent of participants reported that their partner prevented them from working outside the home. Participants who were in regular employment9 also spoke about how IPV limited their em- ployment. They had been harassed at work by their partner, abused for Table 5 Experiences of economic IPV. Experience NI study EU FRA survey Excessive economic control 63% (40/63) – Prevented from making financial decisions 46% (29/63) 10% Prevented from working outside the home 38% (24/63) 5% Put into debt by perpetrator 32% (20/63) – 8 In general, IPV legislation and policy in Northern Ireland lags behind that of England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland across several areas which are discussed in a recent article by Doyle and McWilliams (2019). 9 A minority of participants, despite most reporting that they worked prior to/ early in the IPV relationship. J.L. Doyle Women's Studies International Forum 80 (2020) 102370 5 working and/or said they found it difficult to work while coping with persistent violence and control. Participants who had left employment cited these same reasons for leaving, as well as a partner expressly forbidding them from working and/or the impact of the negative con- sequences of IPV for physical/mental health (documented elsewhere; see Doyle and McWilliams, 2018). The following extracts provide in- sight into these issues: ‘He told me my clothes weren't appropriate for work and wouldn't let me leave the house, another time he came to my work and made a big scene...It was pretty clear he didn't want me working.’ (Interview 53, June 2016). ‘I had my own business, it was a great business, but when he started to change [become abusive] my mind was always [focused] on [that]. I got depression and…couldn't cope [so] I sold my business.’ (Interview 12, March 2016). A final experience of economic IPV raised by 32% of participants was being put into economic debt by a partner. The main experiences of this were where a partner forced or coerced a participant into taking out loans, ran up debt in their name, and/or gambled their money/ assets. Several cases of this were quite extreme; one participant was left £25,000 in debt by her partner and another £90,000 in debt. For the most part however, the level of debt was smaller (under £5000) and involved credit card debt. Consistent across all reports however was the high level of distress this caused participants, most of whom were not well off to begin with: ‘He used my name to open accounts…and get credit cards and then he upped and moved [overseas] and I was left [in debt]. I started getting hounded by…debt collectors…It was the worst time of my life…I had a break down because of it.’ (Interview 27, March 2016). The prevalence and impact of these experiences are important as they are mostly omitted from studies on economic IPV, which have tended to focus only on economic control and employment. Comparing the foregoing findings to those of the EU FRA survey, it emerges that the issue of economic IPV was not inquired about in the same way. For instance, the EU FRA survey inquired about economic control only in relation to being prevented from making financial de- cisions and while this is an important aspect of economic control our study findings suggest that it does not adequately measure economic control and may not appear relevant to the experiences of victim/sur- vivors: ‘I've been asked before if I could have shopped without him and made financial decisions…but when [he] only gives you ten pounds a week you don't have much to decide about or shop with!’ (Interview 61, June 2016). Similar testimonies were given by the other participants who re- ported excessive economic control but not being prevented from making financial decisions, showing the value of the former as a mea- sure of economic IPV. In addition to this, the EU FRA survey did not include the issue of being put into debt by a partner, which was re- ported by almost one third of participants in our study. Put simply, our findings suggest that the EU FRA survey misses key experiences of economic IPV and that it consequentially under-estimates the overall prevalence of economic IPV. Physical IPV Physical violence IPV has been the main and often only focus of research and policy on IPV (Basile and Hall, 2011). For our study physical IPV was less prevalent than either psychological or economic IPV, although it was still reported by the majority (71%) of participants. Most of these participants (54%) had furthermore sustained injuries from physical IPV that were serious enough to require medical attention. Participant experiences of physical IPV are set out in Table 6. The most common experience of physical IPV for our study was being slapped, reported by 41% of participants. This was followed by being pushed or shoved, reported by 37%. Many of these participants said that their partner had slapped, pushed or shoved them in a way that made it seem accidental, playful and essentially not an instance of physical IPV: “He would've hit me on the arm and I'd go ‘would you stop that, it's really sore!’ He”d always say “I'm only joking” (Interview 39, April 2016). ‘He's so clever…He would throw things at me aggressively, like if I asked for the [television] remote he'd throw it really hard so it would hit me and he'd slam doors so they'd hit me. But he could always say [that] these were accidents and [that] he never hit me.’ (Interview 47, May 2016). These participants and others who gave similar accounts spoke of how they did not initially recognise these experiences as physical IPV. This finding suggests that instances of physical IPV like these may be overlooked by victim/survivors and consequently under-reported. The third most common experience of physical IPV was being suf- focated, choked or strangled, reported by 25% of participants: “He pinned me down and tried to strangle me. He said ‘I'm going to kill you, you bitch’…I literally couldn't breathe.” (Interview 58, June 2016). The high prevalence of this experience among participants (one in four) is particularly troubling as several studies have identified being choked/suffocated/strangled as a particular risk factor for femicide (Glass et al., 2004; Koziol-McLain et al., 2007). Twenty two per cent of participants reported that they had been beaten with a fist or hard object. In many cases, participants incurred injuries as a result of this and other experiences of physical IPV - being grabbed/pulled by the hair, having one's head beaten against something and being burned or cut or stabbed - occurred in conjunction with this. The following extract provides of one of the examples of serious physical IPV recounted by participants: ‘I lost three babies [because of the violence]. The last one was really traumatic for me because… he beat me on purpose so that I lost the baby. [When] I tried to run away he beat me on my face and he actually tried to pull my eyes out. He broke my eye socket…it was terrible.’ (Interview 39, April 2016). The full list of injuries sustained by participants in our study is provided in Table 7. The most common injuries were bruises or black eyes but several participants had sustained very serious injuries, in- cluding broken and fractured bones, head injuries, stab and burn wounds, and internal injuries as a result of physical IPV. However, while 54% of participants had sustained physical injuries serious enough to require medical attention only 32% had received it. Participants reported that they had not sought medical attention for Table 6 Experiences of physical IPV. Experience NI study EU FRA survey Slapped 41% (26/63) 13% Pushed or shoved 37% (23/63) 16% Tried to suffocate, choke or strangle 25% (16/63) 4% Beaten with a fist or hard object, or kicked 22% (14/63) 7% Hard object thrown at them 11% (7/63) 7% Grabbed or pulled by the hair 10% (6/63) 8% Beaten head against something 8% (5/63) 4% Burned 5% (3/63) 1% Cut, stabbed or shot 5% (3/63) 1% Sustained injuries requiring medical treatment 54% (34/63) – J.L. Doyle Women's Studies International Forum 80 (2020) 102370 6 broken bones, fractured eye sockets and stab wounds with some ad- ministering their own treatment to wounds: ‘He stabbed me twice in the back of the legs with a knife but I covered [it] up. Interviewer: Did you ever seek medical attention? Respondent: No, never. For those wounds I just got paper stitches and done it myself.’ (Interview 40, May 2016). Comparing the foregoing findings to those from the EU FRA survey, the most interesting observation is that there is a high level of similarity between the studies. Specifically, all experiences of physical IPV re- corded by our study are also recorded by the EU FRA study and with the exception of being suffocated, choked or strangled (more prominent in our study10) these experiences are similarly ranked in terms of their prevalence. These commonalities and in particular the fact that physical IPV stands out as the only dimension of IPV for which the EU FRA survey captured all of the experiences reported by our participants suggests that physical IPV is the dimension of IPV best understood by the EU FRA survey. This is hardly surprising in light of the aforemen- tioned research and policy focus on physical IPV over other dimensions of IPV. Sexual IPV Research shows that sexual IPV is often not recognised, including by those who experience it and this is particularly pronounced with respect to those experiences of sexual IPV which do not conform to prosecu- table crimes (Logan et al., 2007; Walby and Allen, 2004). Our findings support this by highlighting the discrepancy between reports by parti- cipants that they had experienced sexual IPV (51%) and that they had consented to sexual activity against their will due to fear of what might happen (71%). The main experiences of sexual IPV are set out in Table 8: The most prevalent experience of sexual IPV for our study was consenting to sexual activity against one's will due to fear of what might happen otherwise, that generally being a partner becoming physically or psychologically violent and/or forcing intercourse: ‘My second child had just been born and I was in that time when you're not supposed to have sex and I didn't want to have sex, [but] …he started choking me and…accusing me [of] sleeping with somebody else, so I had no other choice and from that time on I knew if I refused sex there would be a problem so even if I didn't want to I did it.’ (Interview 34 April 2016). ‘I was afraid to refuse sex because I knew if I refused then he would beat me in front of the children. So to protect them I would have obliged him’ (Interview 27, March 2016). These extracts show how ‘consent’ as typically understood can be rendered meaningless where fear and a power imbalance characterise a relationship, as is often the case in the IPV relationships. This is im- portant as it challenges the view that sexual activity is only forced if it is physically forced. These findings suggest that a greater understanding of this issue is needed, as are measures to address it. Forty six per cent of participants reported that their partner had forced sexual intercourse and 49% that they had attempted to force intercourse. This means that almost half of participants had been raped (in legal terms) by their partner. This proportion is striking as official statistics for the same year in Northern Ireland recorded just over 200 rape offences with a domestic abuse motivation compared to 13,933 domestic abuse crimes (PSNI, 2018). Our findings suggest that rape in IPV relationships is much more common than these statistics suggest. One likely explanation for this from our findings is a lack of recognition that forced intercourse within a relationship is rape; many participants in our study did not recognise forced intercourse by their partner as rape and specifically spoke about how they viewed intercourse, con- sensual or not, as compulsory and part of their ‘duty’ as a wife/girl- friend: ‘I would have just let him away with whatever because I was mar- ried to him and when you're married that's your duty. [Only later did] it sort of click with me that I was being raped.’ (Interview 26, March 2016). “I woke up and he was inside [me], and I was like ‘get off, what are you doing?’ He [said] ‘I'm your husband, you're my wife, I can do what I want to you’. It could've been rape and I wouldn't have known it was rape - that's being truthful” (Interview 1, February 2016). A final experience of sexual IPV reported by 14% of participants was violent sexual activity. The main examples of this were where a violent partner choked, hit or was physically aggressive towards a partner during intercourse and/or where they inserted foreign objects into their vagina and/or anus: Table 7 Injuries sustained from physical violence for the Northern Ireland study. Injury NI Bruises/black eye 51% (32/63) Throat/neck injuries from choking/strangling 22% (14/63) Broken bones 16% (10/63) Hair pulled out 10% (6/63) Head injuries 8% (5/63) Stab wounds 5% (3/63) Miscarriage/damaged baby 5% (3/63) Burns (including with bleach) 5% (3/63) Knocked unconscious 3% (2/63) Bruised bones 3% (2/63) Internal (vaginal) injuries 3% (2/63) Split lip 3% (2/63) Internal bleeding 3% (2/63) Fractured bones 3% (2/63) Fractured eye socket 3% (2/63) Loss of teeth 2% (1/63) Table 8 Experiences of sexual IPV. Experience NI study EU FRA survey Consented to sexual activity against will because afraid of what might happen otherwise 71% (45/63) 5% Attempted forced sexual intercourse 49% (31/63) 4% Forced sexual intercourse 46% (29/63) 4% Violent sexual activity 14% (9/63) – 10 Being suffocated, choked or strangled was ranked as the third most pre- valent experience of physical IPV in our study compared to the seventh for the EU FRA study. J.L. Doyle Women's Studies International Forum 80 (2020) 102370 7 ‘He would be aggressive having sex…. strangling [me], slapping me a lot, biting me…It was so painful…He used to tie me up and it didn't feel safe…I hate those things but I didn't feel I had a choice.’ (Interview 31, April 2016). ‘He… put things in places where….bottles and…he made me [have] anal sex a lot as well….he would have forced me to do that.’ (Interview 44, May 2016). Participants often found it particularly difficult to discuss these experiences and several initially responded in the negative to this question only to disclose at the end of the interview. These observations are important as they suggest that several participants may have chosen not to disclose violent sexual activity despite experiencing it and thus that the prevalence of this issue may be higher than these figures imply. Comparing our findings with those from the EU FRA survey we can see that while the prevalence of sexual IPV was quite high for our study (51%), only a small minority of participants (7%) in the EU FRA survey reported it. One possible explanation for this concerns the difference in the methodologies used as research has shown that qualitative methods often have an advantage over quantitative methods when it comes to eliciting sensitive information and researching issues which are not well understood/recognised, both categories into which sexual IPV falls (Corbin et al., 2015). A second observation is that the EU survey does not incorporate a key experience of sexual IPV, namely violent sexual activity. Omitting this means that the EU FRA survey essentially over- looked what according to our participants was a particularly traumatic aspect of IPV. This also has obvious implications for the accuracy of EU FRA prevalence figures on sexual IPV overall. One key issue on which the studies do agree is that consenting to sexual activity against ones will due to fear of a partner is the most prevalent experience of sexual IPV; a finding which again highlights the necessity of addressing this issue in policy and practice. Conclusion Drawing on qualitative empirical evidence from Northern Ireland, this article sought to advance our understanding of women's experi- ences of IPV in relation to psychological, economic, physical and sexual violence. The findings to emerge are important because they are based on one of the only qualitative studies to consider all four dimensions of IPV together and because they elucidate issues not usually documented in research. Our study represents the first comprehensive study on IPV in Northern Ireland since 1993 and therefore represents a unique con- tribution to local knowledge. While not discussed here, the findings are in many ways unique to the local context as they show how socio-po- litical, cultural and economic factors in Northern Ireland shape victim/ survivors experiences of IPV.11 These factors include the influence of the violent conflict, the transition from conflict to peaceful political settlement and religious and conservative social attitudes in Northern Ireland. However, the findings also challenge and contribute to the wider knowledge on IPV in important ways. The findings on psycho- logical and economic IPV in particular challenge the view that physical IPV is the most serious dimension of IPV; a view which is most clearly reflected in the overwhelming focus on physical IPV in research and policy. Recently, a body of literature has emerged which contends this and shows that other forms of IPV have more serious and longer lasting implications for physical and mental health than physical IPV (Al- Modallal, 2012; Matheson et al., 2015; Naughton et al., 2017). Our research supports this literature by showing that psychological IPV in particular is often viewed as ‘worse’ than physical IPV by victim/sur- vivors. Although not discussed here, our research also shows that non- physical forms of IPV have longer term consequences for victim/sur- vivors' (self-appraised) physical and mental health than physical IPV (see Doyle and McWilliams, 2018). The results on economic and sexual IPV challenge subnational (EU FRA) and national (NICS) survey findings which suggest that economic and sexual IPV are uncommon. Indeed, the results from Northern Ireland show that economic IPV is highly prevalent and for our sample more common than physical IPV and that sexual violence is common within IPV relationships. These findings support and add to an emer- ging body of literature which records similar trends, although much more research is needed here (Gibbs, Dunkle and Jewkes 2018; Stylianou's, 2018; Sanders, 2015; Logan et al., 2007; Walby and Allen, 2004). Our findings also reveal the high level of stigma that surrounds sexual IPV, one consequence of which is that sexual IPV is often not identified even by those who experience it. In practice, this likely means that sexual IPV was under-reported even for our sample. Although not discussed in the context of this article, the conservative social attitudes which pervade in Northern Ireland are likely influential here.12 Our study also draws attention to the value of qualitative research into experiences of IPV. To date, most research on experiences of IPV has been quantitative in methodology. Our qualitative findings add detail to these quantitative studies and expand upon their findings by adding nuance to experiences of IPV recorded in these studies and also by recording new experiences of IPV which are not detailed by them. For instance, our findings show how prevalent aspects of psychological and physical IPV can be carried out by a perpetrator in a way that masks these acts as instances of IPV and several key experiences of psychological, economic and sexual IPV reported by our participants are not documented in survey studies. The foregoing has several important implications for future research and the development of policy. First, they highlight the value of qua- litative research for providing detail on and enhancing our under- standing of key experiences of IPV. This is important because compre- hensive qualitative studies of victim/survivor experiences of IPV have been quite scarce relative to quantitative studies. Thus one potentially valuable avenue for future research is qualitative studies on this issue. It would be particularly beneficial if other European countries were to serve as case studies for this as that would provide a point of compas- sion for both the EU FRA and our Northern Ireland study findings. Second, the findings highlight the prevalence and extent of psycholo- gical, economic and sexual IPV and call attention to current imbalance in research, policy and service provision whereby physical but not psychological, sexual and in particular economic IPV are addressed. Another valuable avenue for future research thus concerns the conduct of empirical studies on these dimensions of IPV. From a policy per- spective, this information would be extremely beneficial to the creation of evidence-based policies to address these dimensions. Without un- derstanding and addressing these dimensions of IPV we will surely fail victim/survivors. Limitations of the research While it is important not to detract from the status of the research as one of the most comprehensive qualitative empirical studies with victim/survivors of IPV conducted to date, the following six limitations can be identified. First, while a sample size of 63 is considered large for a qualitative study13 and care was taken to include participants from a range of different backgrounds, the study is obviously not generalisable in the same way a quantitative study would be. Second, the study fo- cuses only on women's experiences of IPV and therefore the findings are 11 These issues are discussed at length in Doyle and McWilliams (2020) and Doyle and McWilliams (2018). 12 See Doyle and McWilliams (2018) for a discussion of the influence of social attitudes on IPV in Northern Ireland. 13 Mason (2010) found that the median sample size of qualitative studies is 20 to 30. J.L. Doyle Women's Studies International Forum 80 (2020) 102370 8 not generalisable to men. As discussed previously, this decision was taken in order to maintain methodological consistency with the EU FRA study. IPV is also now recognised as gender-based violence, requiring a gender cognisant understanding. Third, no LGB&T women could be recruited for the study14 and this means that the experiences of these women are not included in the study. Fourth, as Women's Aid partnered the study and recruited participants through their services only women who had sought support from Women's Aid were included. The decision to recruit participants only through Women's Aid was nonetheless taken as they were uniquely positioned to provide women using their services with fully qualified support and ongoing support. Fifth, given the sen- sitive topic being discussed some participants were reluctant to disclose information on the record and there were several instances in which valuable information was given but not permitted to be included in research findings. It should also be acknowledged that for these same reasons participants' may have withheld information during interview. Acknowledgements Sincere thanks to Professor Monica McWilliams, Ulster University, who conducted this research with me. Thank you also to Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland who partnered the research and to the 63 women who participated in the study. 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Doyle Women's Studies International Forum 80 (2020) 102370 10 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0195 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0195 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0200 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0200 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0205 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0205 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0210 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0210 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0210 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0215 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0215 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0220 http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0277-5395(18)30583-1/rf0220 Experiences of intimate partner violence: The role of psychological, economic, physical and sexual violence Introduction and literature review Methodology Sampling and participants Materials and procedure Results Types of IPV experienced Psychological IPV Economic IPV Physical IPV Sexual IPV Conclusion Limitations of the research Acknowledgements mk:H1_15 Funding mk:H1_17 References Articles/EconomicJusticeProjectProfile 3605 Vartan Way, Suite 101, Harrisburg, PA 17110 • 800-537-2238 • TTY: 800-553-2508 Program and Practice Profiles Economic Justice Project 2 of 7Program and Practice Profiles: Economic Justice Project - www.dvevidenceproject.org OVERVIEW OF THE DV EVIDENCE PROJECT Increasingly, domestic violence programs are being asked to learn more about, contribute to, and describe how they are engaging in evidence-based and evidence-informed practices. Funders, policymakers, researchers, and advocates themselves are more interested today in what evidence exists that a particular intervention or prevention strategy is making a positive difference for survivors, or is meeting the outcomes it was designed to achieve. With this information, domestic violence programs can better secure continued support for proven programs and practices, and can more easily identify, develop, and/or adapt innovative or exemplary approaches from other communities. To respond to this new emphasis on evidence-based and evidence-informed practice, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV), with support and direction from the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, engaged in a two–pronged approach. First, evidence was collected and synthesized from published, empirical research studies. Second, in recognition that controlled research studies are not the only form of evidence to consider in determining program effectiveness (Puddy & Wilkins, 2011; Schorr & Farrow, 2011), the project also identified where emerging and promising evidence exists that specific programs and practices are effectively addressing complex social problems in community settings. The community practices and programs profiled have been identified by at least one peer as being innovative and noteworthy and have gathered some level of field evidence to examine their effectiveness. What these program evaluations may lack in traditional methodological rigor they more than make up for with “ecological validity”, or the extent to which their findings accurately reflect real-world concerns and successes. The overall goal of the NRCDV’s DV Evidence Project is to combine what we know from research, evaluation, practice and theory to inform critical decision-making by domestic violence programs and allied organizations. This Program and Practice Profile should be viewed as one important piece of information to consider, but its inclusion in the registry does not necessarily reflect an endorsement by either the NRCDV or the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which provided funding for this project. Further, there are many innovative and exciting programs occurring throughout the country. The project website (www.dvevidenceproject.org) provides a sample, but not an exhaustive list, of these practices and programs, as well as related conceptual frameworks, research summaries and other tools. “In one field after another, we are learning that so much of the most promising work in addressing the most intractable social problems is complex, multifaceted, and evolving.” Schorr & Farrow, 2011; p. 22 http://dvevidenceproject.org http://www.dvevidenceproject.org 3 of 7Program and Practice Profiles: Economic Justice Project - www.dvevidenceproject.org PROGRAM PROFILE: ECONOMIC JUSTICE PROJECT Brief Description: The Economic Justice Project (EJP) provides three main programs to survivors of intimate partner violence that support their ability to attain economic stability. The EJP offers women the opportunity to participate in two matched-saving programs called the Classic IDA (federally funded) and Car IDA (privately funded). Both of these programs help survivors save for valuable assets like post-secondary education, a first home, small business expenses, or transportation. EJP also provides IDA participants an opportunity to build their credit through a microloan program. Survivors work closely with a trained advocate to create and meet financial goals (e.g., build a credit score) and receive continued support in attaining economic self-sufficiency. Program Description Program Goals The goal of the Economic Justice Project (EJP) is to foster economic independence and self-sufficiency among survivors of intimate partner abuse. The EJP provides survivors an opportunity to participate in three main program components: the Classic IDA program, the Car IDA program, and the microloan program. IDA stands for an Individual Development Account, which is a matched savings account. Program Origins This project was started in 2004 by the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA), in collaboration with 15 partner programs. To date, KDVA is the sole domestic violence coalition receiving a federal IDA grant through the Assets for Independence program of the Office for Community Services. In 2008, the microloan program was created to continue to support women building or repairing credit in a manageable and useful way. Program Components Women are recruited into EJP through trained case managers at one of the member programs. If they agree to participate, women receive individualized, case-management services with trained economic justice advocates. The relationship with the EJ advocates is vital to the success of this project. There is one EJ advocate for each member organization. The advocates’ level of engagement within the organization depends on the community members who reach out to the shelter for economic advocacy. An EJ advocate meets with women, provides case management, and offers women various tools and strategies related to financial wellness such as creating budgets. The EJ advocate works with women as they participate in one of the three components of the EJ project: Classic IDA, Car IDA, or the microloan program. Classic (Federal) IDA program: The Classic IDA program is a four-to-one matched savings program. Women who save up to $1000 are able to receive an additional $4000, for a maximum of $5000 total. Women must save a minimum of a $20 a month to the IDA for at least six months while receiving case management services and participating in financial education opportunities. Once a participant has met program requirements and is ready to make an asset purchase, savings and matching funds are used toward the purchase. 4 of 7Program and Practice Profiles: Economic Justice Project - www.dvevidenceproject.org Program Components Women are provided information by advocates about the federal IDA program if they are currently receiving case management services through the organization. The screening process differs at each member program, but all applications are approved by program coordinators at KDVA. To be eligible, the woman’s household income must be at 200% or less than the federal poverty level, cannot have net worth more than $10,000, and the applicant must have earned income. Once approved, women then open an account at a participating community bank. EJ advocates pull a credit report for each woman and use it as a road map to set and accomplish financial goals for their time in the program. After 6 to 12 months, advocates request the woman’s credit report again to check for accuracy and evaluate progress. Women can miss up to three deposits into their IDA account. After 3 missed payments, they usually withdraw from the program, or they go on a “respite” from the program for 6 months. This break allows women to reestablish themselves financially. If women are still unable to continue to make deposits after 6 months, they are removed from the program and can withdraw their savings or convert their accounts to regular savings accounts. They no longer have access to matching funds. Car IDA program: The Car IDA program follows the same model as the federal IDA program, but it is not federally funded. It is a one-to-one matched savings program and women can save up to $2000 and receive $2000 in matching funds. It is considered a building block to build eligibility and strong savings habits for the federally funded IDA program. The program came to fruition after advocates told KDVA that the regular IDA program was too financially ambitious for many of their clients. The car ID program was also a better fit for women’s needs and allows participants to purchase automobiles. Funds can be used for down payment, full payment, and/or for automobile insurance. To qualify for a Car IDA, applicants should have a household income less than 200% of the federal poverty guideline, must save a minimum of $20/month, stay enrolled a minimum of 6 months but no more than 2 years, attend regular case management meetings focused on financial education, and participate in a one-time course on how to purchase a car and take care of it (Car Maintenance 101). After a woman is approved for the car IDA program, she will open an account at a community bank in partnership with KDVA. While she saves for a vehicle, she is participating in case management, and meeting regularly with an advocate. Most women save for approximately a year. Before buying the car, KDVA requests an Edmonds.com report and a Carfax to check that the car has not been in a major accident and is being offered for a reasonable price. Women in the car IDA program can be immediately enrolled for the federal IDA if they meet the qualifications, but they cannot be enrolled in two IDAs at the same time. Microloan: The microloan program allows survivors who have IDAs to take out small, zero-interest loans that safely build consumer credit and help them avoid the use of payday lenders. These microloans can be used to cover necessary expenses or to engage in entrepreneurial efforts. In order to take out a microloan, women have to have an IDA to serve as collateral. Women can borrow anywhere from $200 to $2000. 5 of 7Program and Practice Profiles: Economic Justice Project - www.dvevidenceproject.org Program Components There are no restrictions for what women can take out loans for and, typically, women have used the money for car repairs or to pay off debts. KDVA has a loan pool that they use to provide women with loans, but every time a woman makes a payment it is reported to the credit bureau to help build women’s credit. If women miss 3 payments, then KDVA will pull money from IDA and pay off the remainder of the loan. A missed payment is also reported to the credit bureau. Target Population The EJP is specifically designed for survivors of intimate partner violence both in urban and rural settings who are beyond the crisis stage of their healing and who are willing and able to save $20 a month to reach a larger financial goal. Some of the organizations that KDVA partners with on the IDA program work with other at-risk populations such as women recovering from substance abuse or lower-income rural Appalachian residents. Target Setting The 15 member programs that are part of the EJP are located in diverse geographical areas in the state of Kentucky. However, KDVA has found that implementation is easier in urban areas due to feasibility of service delivery and fewer economic barriers. Practice Evidence Evaluation Methods EJP documents: (1) the number of women who created a financial plan and met desired goals from that plan: (2) the number of times women open new car and federal IDAs; (3) the number of women who received a copy of their credit score; (4) the number of women who increased their credit score by 50 points or more; (5) the number of women who made regular deposits to their IDAs; and (6) how IDA savings are spent (e.g., purchase a home, save for school, buy a car, start a business, etc). Evaluation Outcomes The primary goal of this program is to help survivors become more economically self- sufficient. After participating in the IDA program, it is expected that women will be less reliant on public assistance, and will have increased knowledge around financial planning, using the banking system, and using mainstream financial products. They will also hopefully not be victimized by predatory services like payday lenders. It is further hoped that women will have an emergency savings account. In the short term, the EJP is interested in getting women into a regular case management routine, opening up an IDA, building credit through the microloan program, and having women complete taxes. In the long term, the EJP is interested in seeing women make a large purchase such as a down payment on a home, a car, or paying for school. Credit score should also increase, and women could possibly continue to save by opening up a second federal IDA. Since its beginning, women have made 265 asset purchases, 120 became first-time home buyers, 114 pursued a higher education, 30 purchased cars, 7 established a credit score, 18 women increased their credit score by 50 points or more, 11 women increased their credit scores by 100 points or more, 82 women took out microloans, and 31 started or expanded small businesses. 6 of 7Program and Practice Profiles: Economic Justice Project - www.dvevidenceproject.org Evaluation Outcomes There are also unanticipated outcomes that are beneficial for all involved. For example, many of the trainings provide advocates with skills that transfer to women during case management. This helps member programs broaden the kinds of services that they provide to all women. It also helps advocates provide economically informed case management in all aspects of their work. Many of the programs have staff members who have participated in the IDA program and can benefit from the information and actively apply it to their own lives. Organizational Readiness & Future Implementation Practice Cost The total cost of this program is approximately $800,000 annually. This amount covers the microloan pool, matching funds, annual programming, credit reports, and support staff at the association. Americorps and VISTA volunteers are a good way to alleviate some of the cost of the program. In some programs, VISTA service members are the main EJ advocates for the organization, and with other member programs, Americorps/VISTA volunteers support the main EJ advocate Preferred Language There is not a preferred language for this program. Training Requirements Advocates across the 15 member programs are trained annually in a 2-day workshop. The training is expansive and covers the necessary information that advocates will need to answer women’s financial questions and support their financial progress. Advocates learn how to read a credit report, and teach a financial class. KDVA also refers advocates and helps them apply for scholarships to trainings offered nationally by the Assets for Independence Program and NeighborWorks America. KDVA is sometimes able to assist with some travel costs. Planning Requirements/ Readiness Considerations Organizations interested in adopting a model like the Economic Justice Project should have the capacity to sustain the program for an extended period. The organization should have a case manager that can spend one afternoon every two weeks with women. KDVA recommends that domestic violence organizations try to find an IDA program in their state or community and develop a partnership. The EJP is successful because there are relationships with community partners and because each of the member programs utilizes resources in its community. Urban and rural areas are included in the EJP in Kentucky; however, rural domestic violence organizations in a small, impoverished area might find it more difficult to reach out and sustain women in the IDA programs due to a variety of barriers faced by both the participants and the agencies. EJP also seems to works well with agencies that have strong non-residential outreach programs, and would be a good fit for any organization that has a transitional or permanent housing component to their organization. 7 of 7Program and Practice Profiles: Economic Justice Project - www.dvevidenceproject.org Caveats/Cautions Raising funds for the project has been easier than building capacity within organizations, particularly around staff turnover. The IDA program funded by Assets for Independence requires that grantees raise non-federal match funds equal to the federal matching funds received for the program, and this can be a challenge. It is also difficult to sustain women’s participation as they are already low-income due to larger social barriers and intersecting life issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and/or immigration barriers. Programs should plan and design their IDA around the complexity of women’s lives. Training Tools Organizational training tools available for download and through PPTs. Supplemental Materials & Additional Resources Assets for Independence Resource Center: http://www.idaresources.org/ page?pageid=a047000000Bmr7F AFI Serving Domestic Violence Survivors Toolkit: http://www.idaresources.org/page?pageid=a047000000Bmr7F Contact Information: Mary O’Doherty Kentucky Domestic Violence Association 111 Darby Shire Circle Frankfort, KY 40601 Phone: 02.209.5382 Fax: 502.226.5382 Email: modoherty@kdva.org Website: http://www.kdva.org © Copyright 2012. National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. All rights reserved Notice of Federal Funding and Federal Disclaimer. The production and dissemination of this publication was made possible by Grant # 90EV0734-05 and # 90EV0410-02 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau, Family Violence Prevention and Services Program. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Distribution Rights. This DV Evidence Project paper may be reprinted in its entirety or excerpted with proper acknowledgement to the author(s) and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, but may not be altered or sold for profit. Suggested Citation. National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. (2012, October). Program and Practice Profiles: Economic Justice Project, Harrisburg, PA: National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. Retrieved month/day year, from: http://www.dvevidenceproject.org http://www.dvcac.org http://www.acf.hhs.gov/fvpsa http://www.acf.hhs.gov/fvpsa Articles/Eriksson & Ulmestig, 2021, It's not all about the money - financial abuse and VAW https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260517743547 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2021, Vol. 36(3-4) NP1625 –1651NP © The Author(s) 2017 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0886260517743547 journals.sagepub.com/home/jiv Original Research “It’s Not All About Money”: Toward a More Comprehensive Understanding of Financial Abuse in the Context of VAW Marie Eriksson1 and Rickard Ulmestig1 Abstract Men’s violence against women (VAW) is multifaceted and complex. Besides physical, psychological, and sexual violence, women subjected to VAW often suffer from economic hardship and financial abuse. Financial abuse involves different tactics used to exercise power and gain control over partners. Experiences of financial abuse make it difficult for women to leave an abusive partner and become self-sufficient. From an intersectional perspective, applying the concept of the continuum of violence, the aim of this article is to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how women subjected to men’s violence in intimate relationships experience the complexity of financial abuse in their lives, in the context of VAW. Based on 19 in-depth interviews with women surviving domestic violence, the study describes how intertwined women’s experiences of financial abuse are with other forms of abuse, influencing each other, simultaneously experienced as a distinct form of abuse with severe and longstanding consequences. Women in the study describe how men’s abuse affects them financially, causing poverty and affecting their ability to have a reasonable economic standard. Financial abuse also causes women ill health, and damages their self-esteem and ability to work, associate, and engage in social life. The interviewed women describe 1Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden Corresponding Author: Marie Eriksson, Department of Social Work, Linnaeus University, Växjö 341 95, Sweden. Email: marie.eriksson@lnu.se 743547 JIVXXXXXX10.1177/088626051774354710.1177/0886260517743547Journal of Interpersonal ViolenceEriksson and Ulmestig research-article20172017 https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/journals-permissions https://journals.sagepub.com/home/jiv mailto:marie.eriksson@lnu.se http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1177%2F0886260517743547&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2017-12-24 NP1626 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) how experiences of financial abuse continue across time, from their past into their present situation and molding beliefs about the future. According to the interviews, financial abuse in private life sometimes continues into the public sphere, reproduced by social workers mimicking patterns of ex- partners’ abuse. Bringing out a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamic continuum of financial abuse, our results deepen knowledge about the complexity of VAW in women’s lives, and thereby are important in processes of making victims of violence survivors of violence. Keywords men’s violence against women in intimate relationships, VAW, domestic violence, financial abuse, continuum of violence, intersectional perspectives Introduction In the context of men’s violence against women in intimate relationships (VAW), financial abuse occurs when men “control and limit women’s access to, and use of, money” (Branigan, 2004, p. 11). Financial abuse is one impor- tant tool in exercising power and gaining control over a partner, depriving her of financial resources to fulfill her basic needs, diminish her ability to live independently and deter her from leaving or ending the relationship (Adams, Sullivan, Bybee, & Greeson, 2008; Anderson & Saunders, 2003; Barnett, 2000; Branigan, 2004; Chronister, 2007; Green, 2014; Hughes, Bolis, Fries, & Finigan, 2015; Postmus, Plummer, McMahon, Murshid, & Sung, 2012; Purvin, 2007). Financial abuse and the economic hardship that follows can also force women who are its victims to return, sometimes risking their lives (Haeseler, 2013a; Purvin, 2007; Sanders & Schnabel, 2006). According to Stylianou, Mathisen, Postmus, and McMahon (2013), many studies of VAW neglect financial abuse or make it invisible when describing it as a form of psychological abuse. One explanation for this negligence could be that early radical feminist researchers on VAW focused on sexuality and the body, with little interest in financial exploitation as a dimension of women’s subordina- tion—in contrast to their Marxist and socialist sisters (Gemzöe, 2002). Branigan (2004) puts forward another interpretation, arguing that economic abuse can remain unseen because of an ideology of marriage and money that presumes that partners—men and women—have the same interests and share financial resources for the common good. Näsman and Fernqvist (2015) argue that scholars’ unwillingness to connect financial vulnerability and gen- der-based violence can be understood in the light of a feminist critique of socioeconomic explanations that dominate the research on financial Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1627 vulnerability and to some degree disregard gender. Consequently research on financial abuse in the context of VAW is still limited. Most studies on the subject are from the United States and Australia, based on a quantitative approach. Hence, to deepen our knowledge, we argue it is relevant to explore the relationship between financial abuse, its different forms, and other forms of abuse by using qualitative methods and by focusing on other welfare contexts. Sweden, one of the Nordic welfare states and the context of this study, is often perceived as a haven of gender equality, with small socioeconomic dif- ferences and an inclusive and strong welfare state (see Borchorst, 2012; Hakovirta, Kuivalainen, & Rantalaiho, 2013). Sweden has also adopted strong legislative intent to prevent VAW and to support victims of crime (Ljungwald, 2011; Peters, 2006). For example, the Social Service Act includes a particular section on municipalities’ responsibility to support vic- tims of crime, especially women and children who are victims of men’s vio- lence in intimate relationships (Social Service Act, 2000, 5§ 11 cap). Yet some critics argue the legislation is mainly symbolic (Elman, 2001; Ljungwald, 2011). However, Sweden ranks high in international compari- sons on many aspects of gender equality (Global Gender Gap Report, 2015) and the level of women’s participation in paid work is among the highest in the world (Harsløf & Ulmestig, 2013). The socioeconomic differences among the population used to be low, but are now getting closer to an average European level (see Fritzell, Bäckman, & Rotakallio, 2012). Like other forms of VAW, financial abuse is characterized by a repeated pattern of abuse, embedded in “a continuum of control and coercion,” some- times as extreme as the term “surveillance” implies (Branigan, 2004, pp. 23-24). Liz Kelly developed the concept continuum of violence to understand the complexity in abused women’s experiences of violence, which did not neatly fit into the ordinary categories used by researchers or the judicial sys- tem (Kelly, 1988, 2012). Using the concept of continuum of violence, the aim of this article is to understand financial abuse, by analyzing women’s experi- ences of financial abuse in relation to other forms of VAW. Are financial abuse and other forms of VAW related, and how? Is financial vulnerability among survivors of VAW linked to other forms of vulnerability? If so, can their situation be understood as a continuum? If so, then how? Literature Review As research on VAW has shown, women’s experiences of violence in intimate relationships are complex, involving physical, psychological, sexual, emo- tional, and financial abuse—often related, co-occurring in their lives, NP1628 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) reinforcing each other (Johnson & Ferraro, 2000; Kelly, 1988, 2012; Lundgren, Heimer, Westerstrand, & Kalliokoski, 2001; Postmus et al., 2012; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). Nevertheless, scholars argue that financial abuse is also a specific form of abuse, which comprises characteristics distinct from other forms of VAW (Adams et al., 2008; Branigan, 2004; Postmus et al., 2012). In a pioneering study, Adams et al. (2008) concluded that financial abuse is when the offender in different ways interferes with the victim’s ability to acquire, use, or maintain financial resources. Related to how financial abuse interferes with abused women’s ability to acquire financial resources, schol- ars have, for example, explored how men’s violence affects their partners’ employment and capacity to work or study, and thus their ability to earn an income and be self-sufficient (Moe & Bell, 2004; Postmus et al., 2012; Riger, Ahrens, & Blickenstaff, 2000; Riger & Staggs, 2005; Swanberg, Macke, & Logan, 2006; Tolman & Raphael, 2000). Tactics or strategies of financial abuse can, for example, include withholding of earnings or information about finances, constraining involvement in paid work, and limiting the control of money or financial decisions, creating debt or ruining credit, stealing, and destroying property (Branigan, 2004; Postmus et al., 2012; Sanders, 2015; Stylianou et al., 2013; Swanberg, Logan, & Macke, 2005). Exploring the correlation between different forms of VAW, Stylianou et al. (2013) found that 75% of women in their study who suffered from physical and/or psychological abuse from a male partner also experienced financial abuse. This supports the results of Postmus et al. (2012), who also found a strong correlation between financial abuse and other forms of abuse in analy- ses of VAW. Branigan’s (2004) study shows that women’s experiences of financial abuse are similar to other forms of abuse by being both “a contin- uum of control and coercion,” and “a repeated pattern of abuse, rather than isolated incidents.” Furthermore, studies have shown that financial abuse also can work as a risk factor in women’s lives, increasing their vulnerability to other forms of violence or having consequences such as physical violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, HIV, drug usage, and other criminal activities (Fawole, 2008; Haeseler, 2013b). As Sanders’s (2015) results demonstrate, financial issues are frequently “an impetus” to other forms of abuse in the context of VAW, including physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. According to Kelly (2012), the meaning of her concept continuum of vio- lence most commonly referred to derives from the original definition of the term, emphasizing that it is “‘a basic common character that underlies many different events’—that the many forms of intimate intrusion, coercion, abuse and assault [are] connected” (preface, p. xviii). Less used is another definition of the concept pointing out that “the categories used to name and distinguish Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1629 forms of violence . . . in research, law or policy, shade into and out of one another” (Kelly, 2012, preface, p. xviii). In line with Kelly, then, one argument for applying the concept of continuum in analyses of women’s experiences of financial abuse is that it is still a challenge to explore the meaning of the con- tinuum and how women’s—and men’s—lived experiences of violence are intertwined—when constructed as distinct categories in law and policy (Kelly, 2012). Building on Kelly’s continuum of violence, other feminist scholars have pointed out the importance of what they call a “comprehensive” interpreta- tion of violence, in avoiding a fragmented view that tends to trivialize or ignore some forms of violence, making them invisible as actions of vio- lence (Lundgren et al., 2001; Lundgren & Westerstrand, 2005). From this feminist position, we want to argue that financial abuse is a distinct form of VAW, yet sometimes entwined with its other forms. In a study on financial abuse, Sanders shows how women’s experiences of VAW are related—for example, by describing how conflicts over financial issues often escalate into other abusive acts. Yet, without applying the concept continuum of violence, it appears implicit when Sanders concludes that “women’s access to financial resources is often restricted, monitored or completely con- trolled by an abusive partner” (Sanders, 2015, p. 23). Sanders’s results strengthen our argument that the concept of continuum of violence (Kelly, 1988, 2012) can be fruitful to apply also in analyses of financial abuse, to achieve a more comprehensive and integrated understanding of VAW (Lundgren & Westerstrand, 2005). The opportunities women have to leave abusive men, be self-sufficient, and live a life free from violence are not only related to their individual resources but also depend on society’s welfare system (e.g., Gordon, 2002). Today’s Sweden is a mature welfare state with welfare systems that are well developed by international standards (Harsløf & Ulmestig, 2013; Kvist, Fritzell, Hvinden, & Kangas, 2012). A general conclusion has been that the Nordic institutional welfare model has enabled women to strengthen their social and economic position in society. Still, feminist researchers have been more critical and pessimistic about its potential to form a “women-friendly state,” arguing that it reproduces a new form of patriarchy with changed structures of inequality rather than bringing real gender equality (e.g., Hirdman, 2003; Siim, 1990). Concerning VAW, Swedish legal reform has gradually been improved to protect women from men’s violence, but the process has also been character- ized by a continuous questioning of gender-specific legislation, worries about rule of law, and a conservative defense of (men’s right to) privacy in family life (Wendt Höjer, 2002). In Sweden today, men’s VAW is officially recognized as NP1630 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) a political problem, a prioritized subject in policies on gender equality, and considered as one consequence of unequal gender-based power. Still, in prac- tice, many politicians and officials look upon the problem as social, not politi- cal, thus abdicating from their legal responsibility for all inhabitants in the municipality (Holmberg & Bender, 2001, 2003). Consequently, women suffer from men’s violence and its long-term negative financial consequences also in a Swedish context (Lövgren, 2014; Näsman & Fernqvist, 2015; Trygged, Hedlund, & Kåreholt, 2013). Method This study is based on 19 interviews conducted with women in three Swedish municipalities of different size and character. These in-depth interviews (see Irvine, 2011; Lucas, 2014) were semistructured, and lasted about 1 hr and sometimes a bit longer. Two of the interviewed women were recruited through ads in local newspapers and 17 of them via contact with women’s shelters. Most of the interviews were conducted at a women’s shelter, but in a separate and private space. In three of the interviews, women were accompanied by their small babies. One of the interviews was performed via telephone and another one where an interpreter translated via telephone. Notable is that all the interviews were conducted in Swedish—including the one that involved an interpreter—but are presented here in English. Such processes of translation inevitably involve the risk distorting meanings and nuances in language. To reduce such risks, we have continuously reflected upon nuances and meanings in translating the interviews, including the engagement of a professional translator, native English, who has lived in Sweden for a long time. All the interviewed women had left a relationship with a violent male partner between 1 month and 7 years before. In most cases, the breakup was less than 18 months ago. The women were aged 25 to 55, and 18 of them had children, most of whom lived together with their mothers at the time of the interviews. A majority of the women had a small, fragile personal network, for example, with friends and family. With a few exceptions, the women interviewed were working-class according to their education, socioeconomic background, and position on the labor market. Eight were born abroad, three were born in Sweden with parents born abroad, and eight were born in Sweden with Swedish-born parents. When the women were interviewed about the financial consequences of breaking up from a violent male partner, they also described experiences of financial abuse, its different aspects, consequences, and associations with other forms of abuse. Loaded with feelings such as anger, sadness, anxiety, Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1631 and relief, the interviews often became emotional, and affected both the inter- viewer and the woman interviewed. When the participants were informed about the study, all of them said they had someone to turn to after the inter- view if in need of support. Nevertheless, written information handed over to the participants included information on how to contact local women shelters. Applying the concepts of the continuum of violence and intersectional- ity to our interviews on financial abuse, we have worked out an analysis based on a reflective approach (see Alvesson, 2003; Alvesson, Hardy, & Harley, 2008). This analytical approach can be described as a process where the researchers alternate between the empirical data, earlier research, and theory. More precisely, the analytical process already began with the transcription of each interview, followed by close readings of the material where the researchers also alternated between analytical proximity and distance. Then empirical themes were identified and analyzed in a reflec- tive dialogue involving the researcher, existing research, and the empirical evidence—a method inspired by Alvesson and Kärreman (2007). In the readings, certain themes were immediately evident, while others appeared after a more in-depth analysis. Overall, this approach helps to meet the complexities of the interview material, by allowing different understand- ings, meanings, and categories to emerge (Alvesson, 2003; Alvesson et al., 2008). It also encourages researchers to distance themselves from earlier research and biases. By using this structured data analysis strategy, we aim to reflect on our own understandings, and problematize our positions, min- imizing the negative effects on the analysis. This mode of analysis attaches great importance to earlier research and the extensive literature review motivated by a need to put our results in a context of what we already know about financial abuse. However, presenting our material with refer- ence to long summaries from the interviews instead of more but shorter quotations is due to our theoretical position and the importance we attri- bute to giving voice to survivors’ experiences in our study. Based on the ethical principles of the humanities and social sciences (Swedish Research Council, 2005), the study was granted permission by the Regional Board of Ethics of research involving humans in Linköping (No. 2012/396/31). When trying to get access to the field, we brought written information about the research project, including ethical reflections on risks involved for participating informants, for example, the risk of bringing repressed memories and experiences of abuse to the surface. To resolve this, we stated that a female researcher with theoretical and practical knowledge of domestic violence conducted the interviews with the survivors, well prepared to give them further support if needed. NP1632 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) Theoretical Frame: Continuum of Violence and Intersectionality From an integrated and comprehensive feminist interpretation of violence, violence as a continuum means that there are no sharp boundaries between different forms of abuse. Controlling acts, insults, threats, and verbal, psy- chological, physical, and sexual abuse are not understood as distinctly separated categories, but as interconnected acts and manifestations with blurred boundaries, reinforcing each other—influencing the abused woman in negative ways (Kelly, 2012; Lundgren & Westerstrand, 2005). The con- cept also brings a perspective where violence can be analyzed as a process, and in a wider context, emphasizing the intersections between different violent acts and behaviors—and their consequences—placing serious criminalized physical acts of violence on the same sliding scale as legiti- mate and accepted forms of violence (Kelly, 1988, 2012). A continuum perspective on VAW also influences our ethical position as researchers, understanding that “all forms of gender-based violence are serious, but all forms of violence are not ‘the same’” (Lundgren & Westerstrand, 2005, p. 493, our translation). Lynn Segal (1990) has argued that the concept of continuum blurs bound- aries too much, without a differentiation between men and violence—making all men guilty and making violence an inherent essence of masculinity. In a comment on Segal’s critique, Kelly contends that it is clichéd, and involves a misconception that a radical feminist like her cannot share a social construc- tivist epistemology (Kelly, 2012). Another criticism of Kelly’s concept has questioned why certain forms of violence, such as honor-based violence and female genital mutilation/cutting, are excluded. According to Kelly, this lack of intersectional aspects of women’s experiences of violence in her develop- ment of the concept does not prevent such practices from being included (Kelly, 2012). With the aim of underscoring the “multidimensionality” of abused wom- en’s lived experiences, Kimberlé Crenshaw (1993) coined the concept inter- sectionality. Focusing on domestic violence and rape, she showed that systems of race, gender, and class converged in the experiences of battered women of color. From an intersectional perspective (see Bograd, 2010; Crenshaw, 1993; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010), we want to acknowledge that though men’s VAW is a universal problem, neither gender nor violence are universal categories. Women—and men—have specific experiences, inter- ests, and needs depending on how they are situated and positioned in relation to categories and power asymmetries such as class, ethnicity, sexuality, age, civil status, and so on. Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1633 Thus, women subjected to financial abuse experience the abuse and its consequences in different ways, not only because of their gender but also because of their class position, ethnicity, age, and so on. Worth noting here is that the welfare state has mainly developed to financially equalize power relations based on class, not gender (see Fraser, 1998). Result and Discussion This section starts with an analysis of how financial abuse relates to other forms of abuse in the context of VAW, and how the interviewed survivors experience this. Following on from that is a section on how financial abuse, as described by the survivors, also can be understood as a distinct form of abuse. Finally, there is an analysis of how women’s experiences of financial abuse relates to financial vulnerability. Financial Abuse From a Continuum Perspective From our interviews, it is evident that financial abuse is connected to and intertwined with other forms of abuse in women’s lives. Analyzing wom- en’s experiences of financial abuse from a continuum perspective and with a comprehensive understanding of violence makes visible how, for exam- ple, the physical violence the women have been subjected to is intertwined with financial abuse, or the ways in which men’s violence has affected their financial situation. The financial consequences of having a relation- ship with an abusive man vary but can be far-reaching and continue across time, into the future, thus reducing women’s financial ability and their possibility to empower themselves. Margaret is one example. She is a 57-year-old, well-educated and “settled” woman with three children. Margaret has also experienced psychological, physical, and sexual abuse from their father, her ex-husband. When describing him, she says he is well established in the local community, and has a good economy, which he uses to fight her in court. As with several women in our study, Margaret has become poor within the relationship. Now she has to pay lawyers to get custody of her children and thereby be free from the ties to her violent ex-husband. Asked about the con- sequences of her new financial situation, she says, My financial situation also means that I will never get into a new relationship, I can’t imagine myself, I don’t initiate contacts, I reject invitations, it prevents me from having a relation to anyone whatsoever, I can’t afford it, to go out, to go anywhere, I can’t afford to have a coffee, I have nothing to offer. NP1634 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) Illustrating how financial abuse can be exercised through social institu- tions with endless custody cases as an example, Margaret’s story fits well with research that shows how abusive men use courts to harass their victims, and how having an economic advantage makes their strategy even more effective (Morrow, Hankivsky, & Varcoe, 2004). Margaret’s experiences also reveal that financial abuse in the context of VAW can continue long after the relationship has ended; how the consequences of financial abuse still confine and circumscribe her possibilities to engage in social relations, prevent her from taking new contacts and dash her hope for a future relationship. Many of men’s various tactics of financial abuse not only undermine women’s financial independence, but also their freedom of mobility and association. Thus, it is also an abuse causing isolation, that sometimes ends up in a depres- sion that decreases the abused woman’s self-esteem, and further adds to her isolation, victimization, and difficulties in leaving the perpetrator (Green, 2014). Another example of how financial abuse circumscribes social life we get from Annie, who describes how becoming poor has disqualified her from both arranging and being invited to dinners and birthday parties, because her middle-class neighborhood requires a standard she “no longer can match.” Financial ability is important and a prerequisite for full participation in soci- ety (Cheng, 2012; Chronister, 2007), just as women’s freedom from violence and fear of violence is essential for democracy and citizenship (Wendt Höjer, 2002). Some women interviewed tell of how experiences of shame can com- plicate social relations and participation in society—both the shame of being subjected to violence, and the shame of being poor or unable to afford things. According to Denise, shame of being poor arises not only in contact with welfare authorities, when asking for financial support, but also when she is out and her friends pay for her, well aware she cannot pay back: “You’re ashamed, avoiding [social situations] . . . you always take, without giving back, it’s not good.” Mira’s story of being subjected to a husband’s violence, and to poverty—as a consequence of his financial abuse—exposes how dif- ferent forms of abuse intersect, sometimes with long-lasting and considerable effects on the self: “I don’t forget this shame, how awful . . . each time you get smaller and smaller and lose your self-esteem and self-confidence.” Shame can also be a consequence of men’s conscious humiliation related to financial abuse. Lea, another woman interviewed, tells of her husband: “[he] often bought clothes for himself, sometimes quite expensive.” But to “humil- iate her,” he did not allow her to buy anything for herself, but forced her to wear worn and damaged clothes. Experiences of shame also appear in other abused women’s stories, sometimes conveying a double shame that is a two- fold effect of financial abuse, originating from experiences of being a victim Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1635 of abuse and from being poor. Feelings of shame can be long-lasting, just as the precarious financial situation that many survivors of VAW suffer from often continues long after the breakup—due to the high costs of divorce, large debts, health problems, difficulties in housing, keeping a job, and so on (Branigan, 2004; Green, 2014; Haeseler, 2013b; Lindhorst, Oxford, & Gillmore, 2007). Lisa is an example of how emotional fragility as an effect of VAW can have an impact on victims’ possibilities to get employed, and how their unemployment can be intertwined with partners’ desire for power and con- trol. A woman in her twenties with a 6-month-old baby, staying at a women’s shelter, Lisa describes how multifaceted her former boyfriend’s financial abuse was. Among other tactics he used was employment sabotage, including harassing her at work by endless calls and a constant nagging demanding her to be at home, serving him, instead of working. As an effect of her partner’s abuse, Lisa is still unemployed, more than a year after breaking up from him. At the time of the interview, she was on parental leave, taking care of her baby. When thinking of going back to work, Lisa says, “I am afraid it will be difficult.” She questions how to be able to handle smells and sounds that remind her of her abusive partner. She also explains how experiences of her boyfriend’s abuse and threats from his family make it difficult for her to be in public places at all, especially if there are many men, and if they look at her. An incident like that recently happened, that made her panic and rush away. Asked about her present financial situation, she concludes, “Now I am more dependent on social benefits than ever before, because I have become very much damaged.” Discussing her experiences of abuse, and how they have affected her, Lisa says, The physical violence is not that hard, actually. The wounds disappear, the psychological lasts for years, many, many years . . . and every time you see a bill . . . it will immediately remind you of your past life, what you want to put behind you. Lisa’s story reveals how experiences of men’s physical VAW in intimate relationships can be intertwined with psychological and financial abuse, and mutually affect women’s mental health for a long time. Hence, cumulative vulnerability and victimization as a consequence of VAW hinder women from managing a job and becoming self-sufficient (Cocker et al., 2002; Lindhorst et al., 2007). For related reasons, Ellen (008), who has a protected identity because of death threats from her ex-husband, explains that her situation makes it diffi- cult to find a suitable job that does not reveal her identity. Diagnosed with NP1636 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) posttraumatic stress disorder as a consequence of being abused further com- plicates her chances of getting a job, together with ignorance among welfare officers not taking her position as a victim of crime seriously. Women sub- jected to VAW often have higher absence from work because of men’s vio- lence (see Adams, Tolman, Bybee, Sullivan, & Kennedy, 2012; Brandwein & Filiano, 2000). Accordingly, the difficulties in finding and keeping a job make abused women dependent on welfare (Adams et al., 2008; Roschelle, 2008). In a Swedish study, Trygged et al. (2013) conclude that the abused women in their sample had a lower education and a weaker financial position, even before they were assaulted, compared with the women in the sample who had not been assaulted. Yet, the results also show that all the abused women in the sample (no matter what their education level) who received hospital treatment for injuries caused by a male partner’s assault also were at greatly increased risk of having low incomes and of being in need of welfare support. The stories of survivors that appear in our material offer support for a feminist understanding of violence, suggesting that abusive men exercise power and control over women also by means of financial exploitation and control (Adams et al., 2008; Branigan, 2004; Sanders, 2015). Karin, a woman in her fifties, who had suffered from psychological and financial abuse, but now is divorced from the perpetrator, gives her picture saying, “For him I don’t think it was so much about the money, but more about breaking me down.” Applying the concept of continuum of violence (Kelly, 1988, 2012) to the survivors’ experiences helps us understand how different forms of vio- lence coexist and reinforce each other—“shade into and out of one another in complex ways” (Kelly, 2012, p. xviii)—turning physical and psychological violence into financial abuse with far-reaching consequences. The women interviewed give several examples of how violence works as a continuum in their lives, across time and place, and how these intertwined experiences of abuse mold a cumulative vulnerability (Scott-Storey, 2011). In a longer per- spective, disrupted employment records can result in abused women’s diffi- culties in getting work, earning a living, and establishing financial independence (Lambert & Firestone, 2000; Roschelle, 2008; Tolman & Raphael, 2000). Financial Abuse as a Distinct Form of Abuse In the United States, the pioneering research of Adams et al. (2008) and Stylianou et al. (2013) has yielded interesting results, making important con- tributions to the conceptualization of financial abuse by showing that it is a specific form of abuse, moderately correlated to the other forms, and Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1637 therefore should be treated as a distinct construct. Some research in the field of VAW considers financial abuse as a distinct form of abuse, at the same time trying to conceptualize financial abuse vis-à-vis other forms of abuse women suffer from in relationships with men (Kim, 2015; Sanders, 2015). Parallel to this emerging field of research, the United Nations has conceptual- ized financial abuse as a distinct form of abuse when discussing indicators of VAW (UNSTATS, 2010). Yet, when concluding that the low social and finan- cial status of women can be both a cause and a consequence of financial abuse, they do not discuss it as a distinct theme in their report (UNSTATS, 2010). As mentioned, financial abuse can affect women’s chances of finding work. In the following, Anna’s story brings evidence of how this form of abuse can be understood as a distinct form of VAW. Anna, who is a well- educated middle-class woman in her fifties, describes the complexity of financial abuse and how it has affected her. Asked about how her financial situation was at the time of her relationship, Anna says it was very good. She had just sold an apartment and was financially independent. However, as she had her own company where she received most of her orders through her ex- partners’ contacts, she was still dependent on him for her income. Anna’s business was successful for many years. Asked about how the rela- tion to her partner developed, Anna describes how his violent behavior started with him “pushing her down,” complaining she did not do her job, and claim- ing she was not capable of running a business. The ex-partner’s harassment continued and ended up in two incidents when he assaulted her. Then he and Anna separated, and she moved from the house they owned together. After the separation, they no longer worked together. The number of assignments declined, and when Anna did not manage to run her business anymore, her savings soon ended. She says, “He was kicking at my skills and that was what provided my living.” When her partner refused to pay the mortgage on the house, Anna thought she had no other option but to move back and stay with him until they man- aged to sell the house—which turned out to be difficult. After another inci- dent when he pressed a glass in her face, Anna moved again. During a period, she had to pay for the house, for long journeys to work and her rent. Anna’s savings then declined further. Now she says that her savings are gone, and she supports herself on a temporary employment. Anna’s experiences are an example of how VAW and financial abuse can result in loss of professional self-confidence, work opportunities, income, and material belongings. Her story supports previous research findings and fits well into the concept of “employment sabotage,” a form of financial abuse defined by Stylianou et al. (2013). Women frequently speak of being NP1638 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) subjected to different forms of employment sabotage in our material. Roschelle (2008) has found that a common tactic among abusive men is to harass their victims and their colleagues at work, putting victims’ jobs at risk. That is how Ellen lost her job. Repeatedly harassed at work by her ex-partner, her boss finally told her she had to quit. Maria, employed in home-care ser- vice, also had to resign from her job because of fear of her violent ex-partner who lived in the same area where she worked. Men’s employment sabotage can be long term, determining a woman’s entire professional life. In Mira’s case, it was a constant feature in her marriage to a violent husband, lasting more than 20 years: When we moved to [a city] I immediately got a job, worked there a couple of years . . . it was jealousy, everyday life was very difficult, it was hard all the time, he prevented me from working and studying . . . he became worse and worse, he wanted me at home, I was expected to take care of him. Women subjected to violence report difficulties in concentrating at work and having poor attendance at the workplace as an effect of being abused— which puts their jobs at risk (Adams et al., 2012). Conversely, Chronister (2007) argues that women with social and psychiatric problems seem to be more vulnerable to domestic violence because of their problems getting access to the labor market. As we have seen, Anna’s partner used the house mortgage as a tool to threaten her financial independence, and a device to make her more dependent on him, forcing her to move back to him. However, shortly afterward, he was beating her and she moved out again. Physically abused, Anna was forced into a situation that increased her expenses—and her vulnerability—when having to pay double rents, buy new furniture, increased expenses for travels, and so on. Altogether, Anna is an example of how financial abuse has its own character and consequences, sometimes independently of other forms of abuse, sometimes intertwined. Intersections of Financial Vulnerability In our analysis, we link the concept of continuum of violence to an intersec- tional perspective, recognizing that structural forms of oppression—such as men’s VAW—intersect not only with gender but also with structures such as class, race, ethnicity, functioning, sexuality, age, and civil status (e.g., Hetling, 2011; Hughes et al., 2015; Keskinen, 2011; Lindhorst et al., 2007; Mays, 2006; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). In recent years, researchers have criticized simplistic analyses of domestic violence, challenging stereotyped notions of battered women tainted by sexism, racism, and classism (Bograd, Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1639 2010; Johnson & Ferraro, 2000; Mays, 2006; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). For example, Donna Cocker shows how an unstated norm for battered women as White and nonpoor is constructed when policy or law neglects the relation between poverty and violence, and ignores racialized differences in battered women’s experiences. Consequently, abused women’s needs are constructed as primarily psychological rather than material (Cocker, 2010). Toni tells another story. Toni is a 24-year-old woman born in an African country who has lived in Sweden for 3 years. After fleeing an abusive husband, she is now isolated from friends and family. When asked whether there is anyone who can help her to get financial support, she says, “There is no one. My mother got no money; they are really poor in [an African country].” Toni has two children. One of them is newborn and the child of her abusive ex-husband. From our interviews, we conclude that lack of family support and other social networks makes women even more dependent on welfare and sometimes women’s shelters become their only support system—that lend them money, offer clothes and food, give advocacy support, and so forth. Toni was forced into a marriage with a man known to her family. He turned out to be an alcoholic and subjected her to different forms of violence, for example, physical and financial abuse. During their marriage, her hus- band was unemployed; they lived on social assistance and were in constant need of money. Toni’s husband borrowed money from friends, and he owed them money for buying him alcohol. Toni was trying to manage on the small income she received from state parental benefits. She also tried to save small amounts without affording anything for herself and hardly anything for her children. About her husband’s financial abuse, she says, He borrowed money all the time. When we had a little money he took everything and paid back to the people he owed money. I . . . we did not have so much money. I had a little account for savings in the bank. All the time he said to me: “Go fetch the money!” “Go fetch the money!” . . . But there was only a little money. I have brought some money to the bank. I go and I leave some money there. All the time [her husband says]: “Go fetch the money!” I mean there is only a little money in the bank. You know it is from the parental benefit and my child benefit. I only had one child before. I just use the money to buy food and go shopping to eat, nothing else. Toni says she is stressed because her family of origin now is in conflict with her ex-husband’s family. Her ex-husband also stresses her by being drunk when he spends time with the children, using his visitation rights. Toni feels that she does not get any support from the social services when com- plaining about her situation, and she does not understand the rules. NP1640 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) Nevertheless, the problem is not about Toni’s ability to understand. Rather, as Purvin (2007) argues, it is a policy failure when women “are not being informed of potential policy options that might have protected them or helped them leave an abusive situation” (p. 202). As with other women in our study, Toni’s story gives evidence of how men’s financial abuse deprives women of essential resources and housing (Branigan, 2004; Sanders, 2015). Toni has hardly any furniture in her apartment because she had to move hurriedly, and only managed to bring the TV and some basic clothes for her and the chil- dren. Nevertheless, Toni says she is better off financially after the separation than before. Similar paradoxical experiences are expressed by other women in our study, describing both experiences of the exploiting and damaging effects of financial abuse—making them poor, vulnerable, and dependent— and simultaneously feelings of relief, control, and self-esteem, being rehabili- tated as capable economic subjects in charge of their own (yet poor) finances. Tina, for example, who has to live on social assistance after escaping a violent partner, explains that she is better off now—despite being poor—than before, when her partner was stealing her money: “[I]f I had lived with him, and had a full-time-job, he would have been taking all my money.” Similar experiences are expressed by Fia, a 26-year-old woman with three small chil- dren, recently separated from their violent father who is addicted to gam- bling. She describes a financial situation filled with stress, where she has to pay a large amount of her monthly income for many years to come, because of the debt her husband has left her with. Nevertheless, Fia also expresses feelings of relief and of getting control: I know what I get every month . . . it’s my money . . . I make a budget for every month so I know I can save money if I don’t get anything from the unemployment insurance. Yet the situation for financially abused women can be complex and ambiv- alent. Sanders concludes that abusive men may continue to interfere even when their partners are gaining more financial resources and financial inde- pendence. Consequently, women are vulnerable to abuse “not only when their resources are low and their dependence high” (Sanders, 2015, p. 23). Studying a family context, Näsman et al. (2015) found that women experi- enced men’s ongoing financial abuse also after separation. For example, fathers refused to pay for their children, sabotaged women’s possibilities to receive welfare support, and delayed maintenance payments (Branigan, 2004; Bruno, 2016; Näsman et al., 2015). Taken together, problems in earn- ing money and a lack of financial resources—as consequences of VAW— make it difficult for women to start over and establish a household and an Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1641 economy of their own (Branigan, 2004; Strand Hutchinson & Weeks, 2004; Sanders, 2015). As in Sanders’s (2015) research, our material gives many examples of women who do not lack subjective agency when being subjected to financial abuse, but rather resist and respond to it in different ways. Toni, who both openly refused to obey her husband’s demands to make withdraw- als from her bank account, and secretly continued to save money even when the amounts were negligible and put under constant pressure from him, is just one example. The continuum of violence does not mean that financial abuse continues across time forever, without ending, but rather emphasizes that it seldom ceases to exist when the abusive relationship ends. Then financial abuse in the context of VAW can lead to a feminization of poverty within relationships that continues into abused women’s future, with material as well as social and psychological consequences. Whether the women in our study who are looking for work will find employment or not depends very much on their educational background. The Swedish labor market is characterized by high unemployment among unskilled workers, immigrants, and young people (SCB, 2014). Women earn- ing high wages also have greater significance for a family’s overall financial situation and are therefore “allowed” by husbands/partners to be financially active and gain experience in the labor market (Anderberg & Rainer, 2012). Class position also plays a role in how education can lead to a higher-paid job, greater life opportunities, and the ability to take charge of one’s financial situation (Postmus et al., 2012). This makes class a further issue, both during the relationship with an abusive partner and after leaving him. Despite the fact that VAW exists in all socioeconomic classes, and women share experiences of financial hardship in relations with abusive men, studies have shown that poverty is a high predictive risk factor, making poor women especially vulnerable to men’s violence in intimate relationships (Bassuk, Dawson, & Huntington, 2006; Tolman & Raphael, 2000). For example, women in low-paid jobs are less prone to break up from relationships to abu- sive men (Gelles, 1976), and when abused women do not have their own income or access to financial resources, their dependency increases and it becomes more difficult to leave (Sullivan, 1991; Weis et al., 2005). Being on welfare can be an additional risk factor. Research by Kurz (1998) shows that divorced women on welfare experience higher rates of male partner violence than any other group, and the poorer the woman is, the more serious is the violence she is subjected to. Many abused women feel they have no other choice than to return to abusive men, so as to make financial ends meet, while other women cannot even afford to leave (Weis et al., 2005). Nevertheless, our empirical findings support earlier research showing that irrespective of NP1642 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) socioeconomic background, financial hardship and financial dependency are major motivations for women enduring in relationships with violent men (Anderson & Saunders, 2003; Barnett, 2000; Purvin, 2007). How a financial situation—caused by an abusive man—can hinder women from leaving in other ways, is evident in Lea’s story. She says she was never afraid of leaving her husband because of fear of not managing financially on her own. Still, their financial situation and ideas about the importance of a stable economy for a happy marriage gave her “false hopes” of a better relationship to her husband and kept her from breaking up, thinking, If we only get a little better finances, we can do things together, and then he may feel a bit better too, and become who he was in the beginning of our relationship . . . our first year . . . he was a very nice person . . . you always had a hope it would be better if only the economic situation improved. Conclusion The theoretical framework in this study builds upon feminist theories of vio- lence and gender. Therefore, we use the concept “men’s violence against women” (VAW) and regard the gender relation as a relation of power where women structurally are socially and culturally subordinate to men. Consequently, gender inequality is considered a primary reason for the exis- tence of VAW, and VAW to be one way (of many others) to maintain, repro- duce, and restore the societal gender order (Hearn, 1998; Walby, 2002). Our results support feminist theory, suggesting that financial abuse in its different forms involves tactics and strategies for men to control women, curtailing their freedom and subjectivity. Financial abuse involves a repeated pattern of men controlling and limiting women’s ability to acquire, use, or maintain financial resources (Adams et al., 2008) with long-term effects such as pov- erty, ill health, and dependence for them and their children (Branigan, 2004). Financial abuse occurs and is experienced along a continuumof different types of financial abuse, categorized as economic control, employement sab- otage and economic exploitation (Postmus et al., 2012, p. 418). Often it is intertwined with other forms of violence such as sexual, physical, and psy- chological, and continuing over time. However, the continuum of violence does not mean that the financial abuse lasts forever, but reveals that it seldom ceases to exist when the relationship ends. Financial abuse and its effects can continue for a long time, into women’s future, and shape it with material as well as social, psychological, and medical consequences. The focus in the article has been on financial abuse. Nevertheless, despite the fact that financial abuse appears as a distinct category of violence in Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1643 women’s narratives of men’s violence, all the women in our study, besides being subjected to financial abuse, have also been exposed to other forms of men’s abuse and control. From the interviews, it is also evident how financial abuse and other forms of violence are intrinsically interdependent and mutu- ally reinforcing in women’s lives. Hence, our results support feminist theory showing that financial abuse in its different forms and interactions involves tactics and strategies for men to control women, curtailing their freedom and subjectivity (Branigan, 2004). Nevertheless, and in accordance with Sanders (2015), our results also demonstrate that women, despite their experiences of financial abuse, did not lack subjective agency, but also responded to and resisted financial abuse in different ways. We argue that financial abuse is connected to other forms of abuse and that this understanding gives the pos- sibility for a comprehensive understanding of VAW and different strategies used by abusive men. However, financial abuse is also a distinct form of abuse with its own characteristics, affecting women and children. Still, finan- cial abuse is widely underrecognized both in research and in society, making further research and policy necessary. The survivors in our study described how the financial exploitation and control they have been subjected to affect their ability to achieve a reasonable standard of living both during the relationship and long after the relationship had ended. Furthermore, their narratives are intertwined with other power relations than gender, showing that structures such as class and ethnicity also influence the effects and women’s experiences of financial abuse. In the interviews, women expressed experiences of being denied agency and sub- jectivity by men controlling and limiting their access to and use of financial resources in intimate relationships. Ending the relationship seldom stopped the financial abuse or its consequences, making it a form of abuse “to be continued.” This finding is supported by earlier research (see Branigan, 2004; Green, 2014; Postmus et al., 2012; Stylianou et al., 2013). Men’s VAW is a universal problem, existing in all levels, arenas, and social classes in society. Nevertheless, as critics of a universalistic approach have argued, women are differently positioned or situated, in relation to structures such as class, ethnicity, sexuality, and so on and therefore have both varied experiences of abuse and diverse needs of help and support (Crenshaw, 1993; Kandaswamy, 2010; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010; Weis et al, 2005). Applying intersectionality as a theoretical perspective means that we have analyzed financial abuse and financial dimensions of VAW as a com- plex social and political problem, not only based on gender inequality but also linked to other forms of oppression and vulnerabilities that intersect with gender and sexism (Chronister, 2007; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). Theoretically, this brings to the fore a need to reflect on universality in NP1644 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36(3-4) relation to intersectionality and to move toward a “multiple gender” theory that recognizes differences both between genders and within genders (Connell, 1987; Crenshaw, 1993; Sokoloff & Dupont, 2010). As earlier research has shown, our results suggests that financial abuse con- tinues not only across time but also across space—from the private sphere into the public. For example there is research showing how state bureaucracies and their institutional practices and procedures mimic and support the perpetuation of men’s financial abuse—although often unconsciously (Branigan, 2004; Ulmestig & Eriksson, 2016). Survivors of VAW are also confronted with a lack of respect from social services, including “mind games,” extreme rudeness, and caseworkers “talking down” to them (Laakso & Drevdahl, 2006). We argue that the concept of continuum of violence can also be applied to these findings to highlight how women’s experiences of financial abuse in intimate relation- ships, in the private sphere, are inextricably intertwined with aspects of finan- cial abuse they experience in the public sphere, when confronting state bureaucracies. Analyses of financial abuse showing that the dichotomy between the public and private spheres is false (Branigan, 2004) further strengthen our suggestion to apply the concept of continuum of violence. As our model dem- onstrates (Figure 1), a continuum perspective on financial abuse can help us understand how different forms of financial abuse and different types of vio- lence intersect and are intertwined in women’s experiences of VAW, how finan- cial abuse has a continuum across time—and does not end with separation. Finally, we show how women’s experiences of financial abuse also are charac- terized by continuity across space, and work as a continuum between private and public spheres, different arenas and practices. The study has its limitations, especially due to its limited numbers of inter- views. However, the quality or impact of qualitative research should not be judged by its numbers but on the quality of the data and the analysis. Generalizing results, building on 19 interviews and from a specific context, is of course difficult but the study still adds cumulatively and theoretically to our understanding of women’s experiences on financial abuse and VAW. To deepen that knowledge, and to enable comparative analyses, there is a need for more research, for example qualitative analyses of financial abuse, how social welfare institutions handle it, and how women survivors of VAW in different welfare contexts experience it. The women in our study live in a country with, by international standards, a generous welfare state, a high level of formal gender equality, and relatively strong legal protection for victims of VAW. Regardless of whether the women interviewed have separated from their abusive partner or not, the financial abuse they have experienced most likely continues. To stop financial abuse—and other forms of VAW—and find sustainable solutions to the problem we argue that a Eriksson and Ulmestig NP1645 more comprehensive understanding of VAW and financial abuse is necessary. Our results make financial abuse visible also in generous welfare states and help researchers as well as social workers to see and act on the abuse. By unveiling the complexity in women’s experiences of financial abuse, we think that the distinction between financial abuse and nonabuse can be questioned and policy makers can be offered a tool to understand that financial abuse is a distinct form of abuse, but not separated from women’s experiences of other forms of abuse. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Figure 1. A model for a more comprehensive theoretical understanding of how different forms of financial abuse are intertwined in women’s lives, together with other forms of VAW, and how it continues across time and across different spheres/institutions. Note. VAW = violence against women. 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Pratt (Eds.), Domestic violence at the margins. Readings on Race, Class, Gender and Culture (pp. 227- 252). New York, NY: Rutgers University Press. Wendt Höjer, M. (2002). Rädslans politik: Våld och sexualitet i den svenska demokra- tin [The Politics of fear. Violence and Sexuality in Swedish Democracy]. Lund, Sweden: Liber. Author Biographies Marie Eriksson is a senior lecturer in social work at Linnaeus University, Sweden. She has a PhD in history, and her thesis is about marital discord and men’s violence against women in 19th-century Sweden. Her main research interest revolves around gender and violence—both in present and past times. At present, she is involved in a research project on financial abuse in the context of men’s violence against women. Together with Richard Ulmestig, she has recently published an article “Financial Consequences of Leaving Violent Men: Women Survivors of Domestic Violence and the Social Assistance System in Sweden” in European Journal of Social Work. In another research project, she is studying different forms of women’s violence in the 19th- and 20th-century Sweden. Rickard Ulmestig is a senior lecturer in social work at Linnaeus University, Sweden. His main research interest is in policy change and organizational change within the welfare state. He has published several studies within labor market policy, social assistance, and the specific welfare policy in the Nordic countries. He has, together with Ivan Harslöf, edited Changing Social Risks and Social Policy Responses in the Nordic Welfare States (Palgrave). He has lately started to study financial aspects on domestic violence and how these are handled by survivors of domestic violence and by the welfare state. https://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color https://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color Articles/Financial-Capability-and-Domestic-Violence Page 1 of 4 This brief begins with a broad overview of the economic challenges survivors of domestic violence face. It then highlights early research on enhancing survivors’ financial capability. The brief concludes with takeaways from leading researchers and practitioners as well as a list of curricula and other resources. Economic Status and Domestic Violence Women’s economic status is linked to domestic violence in three primary ways. First, although domestic violence occurs across socioeconomic classes, poorer women are more likely to be survivors of domestic abuse than wealthier women, both due to contextual (e.g. neighborhood) and individual (e.g. male employment instability) factors. Second, women who are economically dependent on their abusers are less able to leave and more likely to return to abusive partners. Further, the degree of women’s economic dependence on an abuser is associated with the severity of the abuse they suffer. Greater economic dependence is associated with more severe abuse. Third, economic abuse is in itself a form of domestic abuse since abusive partners may act in ways that harm women financially and undermine their ability to become financially independent. Examples of economic abuse include limiting women’s access to funds and undermining their ability to gain employment or attend school (This discussion is drawn from Weaver et al., 2009; please see their article for more specific citations). Given the centrality of financial matters to domestic violence, advocates have increasingly made financial capability a component of domestic violence interventions. Importantly, as Sanders (2011) emphasizes, efforts to enhance domestic violence survivors’ financial capability must always be approached with safety issues in mind. Research on Financial Capability Building Interventions for Survivors Research on financial capability building interventions and domestic violence is in its infancy. Although the relationship between women’s economic status and domestic violence is well established, research is far less clear on the effects of policies and programs designed to enhance survivors’ financial capability. To give readers a sense of what research does exist in this area, the following paragraphs highlight two studies conducted by leading researchers in this field. Sanders, Weaver, and Schnabel (2007) evaluated a financial education program delivered in two battered women's shelters. Women in two similar shelters were tracked as a comparison group. The program consisted of four three-hour sessions that focused on money and power, developing a cost-of-living plan, building and repairing credit, and banking and investing. Although the program sought to provide general financial education, it also dealt with topics specific to domestic violence. The pre- and post-tests consisted of a 35-item questionnaire, with the post-test administered two weeks after the final class. The comparison group's mean score did not change from pre- to post-test, with the treatment group's mean score increasing by 4.5%. Overall, this study provides preliminary evidence that financial education for survivors of domestic violence leads to improvements in financial literacy and other measures including self-efficacy, but more research is needed on longer-term outcomes. Another study evaluated the All State Foundation’s Moving Ahead Through Financial Management curriculum, which was specifically developed for survivors of domestic violence. In the final report on the study’s exploratory phase, Postmus (2010) Page 2 of 4 found that 96 percent of respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the curriculum was useful, more than one-half referred to the curriculum when they had a question, 88 percent had set financial goals, three quarters had created a budget, nearly 25 percent started a retirement account, and about two-thirds reported looking up their credit history. Because this study is descriptive in nature (meaning there is no comparison group) and the outcomes are self-reported, some caution is needed in interpreting these overwhelmingly positive findings. Nevertheless, these findings indicate that participants valued the financial education program and thought highly of the Moving Ahead curriculum. Ongoing research on this intervention is focused on longer- term outcomes. Takeaways for Policy and Practice In May 2011, the UW-Madison Center for Financial Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury, and U.S. Social Security Administration cohosted the Exploring the Intersection between Financial Capability and Domestic Violence workshop in Washington, DC. The event brought together leading researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. The workshop generated several important takeaways for policy and practice, as summarized by Gjertson (2010). These takeaways include: 1. Interventions must always remain mindful of safety concerns. 2. Strategies must meet short-term economic needs and support long- term financial stability in order to increase women’s ability to leave and stay away from an abuser. 3. Programs should be designed with expectations that are realistic given the myriad of challenges faced by survivors of domestic violence. 4. Domestic violence services offered in shelters are characterized by short- term relationships in a chaotic environment, whereas financial education and skill-building programs are typically time intensive and extend over many months. Interventions offered in shelters need to be adapted to the environment. 5. Interventions need to recognize the extraordinary variation among survivors of domestic violence and remain cognizant of the ways that race, ethnicity, and culture affect the victim’s experience. Being responsive to diversity includes identifying and capitalizing on the strengths and resources of different individuals and populations. 6. Advocates need to collaborate more closely with agencies that provide affordable housing. 7. Building capacities within communities and workplaces to provide services such as child care and check cashing at affordable prices would support all low-income families while also meeting the needs of domestic violence survivors. 8. Financial education alone is not enough. Financial institutions may be key partners to offer affordable transaction accounts, accessible credit and other products and services. There are also opportunities for tailoring technological financial innovations to address the needs of domestic violence survivors. 9. Survivors should be consulted frequently as interventions are being developed. For more information, please visit the websites listed on the following pages. http://cfs.wisc.edu/events/DV_Workshop.aspx http://cfs.wisc.edu/events/DV_Workshop.aspx http://cfs.wisc.edu/events/DV_Workshop.aspx Page 3 of 4 Curricula (Know of others? Please contact jmcollins@wisc.edu) Moving Ahead through Financial Management. The Allstate Foundation's Moving Ahead through Financial Management curriculum is a comprehensive package of tools and information designed to empower survivors of domestic violence on their path to economic self-sufficiency. The Moving Ahead curriculum is available free of charge on the All State Foundation’s Click to Empower website in both English and Spanish. The curriculum is composed of five modules: 1) Understanding Financial Abuse, 2) Learning Financial Fundamentals, 3) Mastering Credit Basics, 4) Building Financial Foundations, and 5) Creating Budgeting Strategies. This brief and presentation cover research on the Moving Ahead curriculum conducted by Professor Judy Postmus of Rutgers University. Redevelopment Opportunities for Women’s Economic Action Program (REAP). Redevelopment Opportunities for Women (ROW) of St. Louis offers a comprehensive curriculum for women who have experienced intimate partner violence. Safety considerations are integrated throughout the core financial information on budgeting, credit, banking, and investing. ROW’s own program in St. Louis includes economic education, credit counseling, individual development accounts, and economic advocacy and support. ROW also runs the REAP training institute, which trains domestic violence advocates on how to increase the economic empowerment of women experiencing intimate partner violence. Professor Cynthia Sanders of Boise State overviews an evaluation of REAP in this brief and presentation. Hope and Power for Your Personal Finances. The National Coalition against Domestic Violence offers this curriculum free of charge on its website. Personal Economic Planning program (PEP). The PEP was both developed by and used in a domestic violence shelter and transitional housing setting. The PEP is used by the Iowa Coalition against Domestic Violence. Research, Policy, and Practice National Online Resource Center on Violence against Women (VAWnet). VAWnet is a comprehensive and easily accessible collection of full-text, searchable materials and resources on domestic violence, sexual violence, and related issues. VAWnet seeks to use electronic communication technology to enhance efforts to prevent violence against women and intervene more effectively when it occurs. The Center’s Economic Justice page includes a range of resources on financial issues as they relate to domestic violence (for example, housing, credit, and employment). VAWnet also has a list of resources specific to Asset Building and Individual Development Accounts. mailto:jmcollins@wisc.edu http://www.clicktoempower.org/financial-tools/curriculum-download.aspx http://www.clicktoempower.org/ http://www.vawnet.org/summary.php?doc_id=3053&find_type=web_desc_GC http://cfs.wisc.edu/DV_Workshop/Postmus_PowerPoint http://www.row-stl.org/Content/ http://www.row-stl.org/Content/REAP.aspx http://cfs.wisc.edu/DV_Workshop/Sanders_Research_Brief http://cfs.wisc.edu/DV_Workshop/Sanders_PowerPoint http://shop.ncadv.org/inc/sdetail/164 http://www.icadv.org/ http://www.vawnet.org/domestic-violence/policy.php?filterby=Economic%20Justice http://www.vawnet.org/special-collections/DVAssetBuilding.php http://www.vawnet.org/special-collections/DVAssetBuilding.php Page 4 of 4 National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). NNEDV’s Economic Justice Project works to strengthen advocates’ financial capabilities to better assist survivors of domestic violence. The Economic Justice Project includes a “train-the- trainer” approach to delivering financial literacy lessons to victim advocates. NNEDV uses a range of outreach methods to inform victim advocates about personal finance tools, resources, and the most recent research available in the field of financial literacy and capability. Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA). Recognizing that a lack of financial stability is one of the biggest deterrents for women who are considering leaving an abusive relationship, KDVA formed its Economic Justice Project in the early 2000s. Through a network of member organizations, the Economic Justice Project offers Individual Development Accounts, free tax-preparation, financial education, and other asset building services to survivors of domestic violence. In 2011, 48 units of supportive housing for survivors of domestic violence were opened using tax credits issued by the Kentucky Housing Corporation. Exploring the Intersection between Financial Capability and Domestic Violence Research Workshop. In May 2011, the UW-Madison Center for Financial Security cohosted a research workshop on domestic violence and financial capability with the Department of the Treasury and Social Security Administration. The workshop brought together leading researchers, practitioners, and policy makers for a rich discussion on the intersection of financial capability and domestic violence over the life course. The workshop’s website includes briefs and presentations by leading researchers, along with short podcasts with practitioners and researchers. A summary brief provides an overview of the event. References Gjertson, L. M. (2010). Summary of Workshop Proceedings: Exploring the Intersection between Financial Capability and Domestic Violence. (CFS Issue Brief 2011-5.7). Center for Financial Security, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Postmus, J. L. (2010). Final Report on the Moving Ahead Through Financial Management Curriculum. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University School of Social Work Center on Violence Against Women and Children. Sanders, C. K. (2011). Asset Building Programs for Domestic Violence Survivors. National Online Resource Center on Violence against Women. Sanders, C. K., Weaver, T. L., & Schnabel, M. (2007). Economic Education for Battered Women. Affilia, 22(3), 240-254. Weaver, T. L., Sanders, C. K., Campbell, C. L., & Schnabel, M. (2009). Development and Preliminary Psychometric Evaluation of the Domestic Violence—Related Financial Issues Scale (DV-FI). Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(4), 569-585. The University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX) Cooperative Extension’s mission extends the knowledge and resources of the University of Wisconsin to people where they live and work. Issue Briefs are an ongoing series of the Family Financial Education Team. This brief was drafted by J. Michael Collins, Assistant Professor in Consumer Finance and Extension State Specialist and Collin O’Rourke, Outreach Specialist, Center for Financial Security. © 2012 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. http://www.nnedv.org/projects/ecojustice.html http://www.kdva.org/projects/economicjusticeproject.html http://cfs.wisc.edu/events/DV_Workshop.aspx http://cfs.wisc.edu/events/DV_Workshop.aspx http://cfs.wisc.edu/Publications-Briefs/Summary_of_Workshop_Proceedings_Exploring_the_Intersection_between_Financial_Capability_and_Domestic_Violence http://cfs.wisc.edu/Publications-Briefs/Summary_of_Workshop_Proceedings_Exploring_the_Intersection_between_Financial_Capability_and_Domestic_Violence Articles/Hamdar, Hejase, Hakim, Le Port, & Baydoun, 2015 economic empowerment of women in Lebanon See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283327382 Economic Empowerment of Women in Lebanon Article  in  World Journal of Social Science Research · October 2015 DOI: 10.22158/wjssr.v2n2p251 CITATIONS 3 READS 3,743 5 authors, including: Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Economic and Behavioral Assessment of Motivation Factors of Lebanese Monetary Donors to NGOS View project THE LEBANESE PEOPLE'S PERCEPTION OF THE BANKING SECTORS IN LEBANON, ISRAEL, AND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: IMPLICATION FOR REGIONAL COMPETITION View project Bassam Charif Hamdar Al Maaref University 72 PUBLICATIONS   169 CITATIONS    SEE PROFILE Hussin Jose Hejase Independent - TAAU 276 PUBLICATIONS   543 CITATIONS    SEE PROFILE Jessica Antonios Le Port American University of Science and Technology 3 PUBLICATIONS   20 CITATIONS    SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by Hussin Jose Hejase on 30 October 2015. 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It discusses the revolution of the changing role of the Lebanese woman from being a mother and a wife, to being an important contributor to the economic growth. It highlights the effective impact of this changing role on the family stability, following the Lebanese woman integration into the working force which results in decreasing the dependency on the male partner in providing essential family needs. Furthermore, this paper tackles the cultural differences among Lebanese women, the ambitions, the values, and the priorities of Lebanese women. It touches also on the economic empowerment of woman, who plays a significant role in facilitating the achievement of a higher level of economic welfare. However, the main focus of this paper is on the socio-economic role of the woman in the global environment where material needs have become a priority and an ultimate value. Questions which to be addressed by this paper are: should oriental women devote their lives to material gains even if it is done at the expense of the family life? How economically important to promote the women’s role as leaders and managers fully devoted to economic growth and money earnings? Are working women economically independent? Keywords empowerment, Lebanese women, working force, economic welfare, Lebanon 1. Introduction The integration of women into the labor force has meant less dependence on men, because these women can take over jobs, earn money and meet the daily needs of life. This integration has widened the intellectual pool in social, political and economic debate. Not to mention that the appointment of women in administrative posts shattered myths that the domain of politics and leadership in public sphere is purely for men (Daily, 2009). Dealing with the problem of women and economic development, as they take their place in the labor market, there are a number of issues to which one must research, i.e., pay equity, the “glass ceiling” principle, work and family balance, and women in a learning society. Over recent decades, there has been a rapid increase in the number of women entering the workforce. www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 252 Published by SCHOLINK INC. However, in the orient most people continue to believe that a woman’s place is at home, taking care of the family and managing the domestic world. World War II had brought a complete reversal of this trend when women were hired to fill the positions of men who were in combat. They had to take jobs in construction, airplanes, ships, and gun production. They took over the production lines in factories, and even used to work as nurses, doctors, and radio operators. As a result, many women tried to fight for their destinies and entered the workforce; they even replaced men’s jobs and showed high levels of productivity and responsibility in handling such jobs (Standlee, 2010). Today, women are struggling to show their capabilities and to prove to their partners that they can survive without even relying financially on them, and they are powerful in aligning their home duties (being a mother, wife, household organizer) with their jobs (Daily, 2009). Women’s economic participation and empowerment are fundamental to strengthen women’s rights and enable them to exert influence on society. Women often face discrimination and persistent gender inequalities; moreover, some women experience multiple discrimination and exclusion because of factors such as ethnicity, caste, religion, nationality and gender. Social changes have also contributed to the rise of women participation in the work force, at the same time, the institution of marriage has undergone significant changes during recent decades. Marriage was regarded as a community where harmony was a key element in its stability and continuity. However, when women had entered the workforce, and had become as much important as men in building the society and the economy, they have become more ambitious, pursuing higher education, and looking for higher positions to be financially independent. These trends in turn have contributed to a gender role reversal in the gains from marriage. The goal of this paper is then to highlight the effective role of women in increasing their economic empowerment and the major reasons that brought them to the workforce. The demand for women participation has increased dramatically after WWII, and the decline of the family income especially during the depression periods of the1970’s and 1980’s, pressured women to join the workforce to sustain the family income and protect the family from falling prey to poverty. This had led to the decline of the traditional form of marriage which forced women to seek higher educational levels, and to obtain more skills so that they may become more competitive in the work force (Karen, 2001). Finally, a question remains in order, whether the family responsibilities that are born with women might constrain their ability to fully achieve their employment ambition. 2. Historical View The main concern here is the change in the women’s role in society from the traditional roles of being housewives, mothers or daughters, and from traditionally doing specific work such as teachers, secretaries, nurses, etc. to essential roles as full partners in the society. This paper follows up on the Lebanese women struggle to enter the work force as equal to their male partners. www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 253 Published by SCHOLINK INC. 2.1 Industrial Revolution The roots of modern feminism go back to the industrial revolution of 1800. In 1807, U.S. President Jefferson signed the Embargo Act, which stopped all trade between Europe and America following the war between Great Britain and America. As a result, importing and exporting stopped between these continents. In 1814, Francis Cabot Lowell from Boston established the first modern factory, and changed the way things were done. He hired single women instead of men for being less expensive by accepting lower salaries for the same jobs. But he faced a real obstacle in convincing the parents of women’s laborers to permit them to work (Thomas, 1990). To resolve the problem, he built what was called a boarding community where the women workers lived and worked together and assured their families that they would be protected and disciplined. By 1850 most of the country’s goods were made in factories causing a rapid migration of people from the country to the city especially single women who had no responsibilities except to prevent their families from falling to poverty. Then, it became a must for single women to work outside home and many women started delaying marriage even for longer periods, while others decided to stay single. However, married women in contrast stayed at home and dedicated their time to raise their children and to take good care of them and their husbands. In 1900 less than 5.6% of all married women worked in factories (Thomas, 1990). 2.2 Women Struggle to Gain Political Voting Power In addition to the various opportunities that women were considered for, nevertheless, the greatest opportunity of all was the American women’s right to vote which was finally guaranteed in 1920, by the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This achievement crowned a movement that went on for more than seventy years. Many debaters foresaw the great change in politics that women voters could cause. As a result, many politicians became nervous especially after a number of women’s organizations united together to form the women’s Joint Congressional Committee that represented 10 million members. This came after the declaration made by the woman who led the final fight “Carrie Chapman Catt”, claiming an equal voice with men nothing less (McCulloch, 1929). 2.3 World War I World War I was a catalyst that changed the life of women; it gave women the opportunity to prove themselves in a male-dominated society instead of staying at home, and doing their routine jobs. With so many men volunteering to join the war, there was a large gap in employment and an opportunity for women to fill it and replace men in their jobs (Karen, 2001). 2.4 The Great Depression As the unemployment rate during the Great Depression exceeded 25 percent of the work force, women had to step aside sending their husbands and fathers to work. A large number of wives sought to participate in the workforce in order to help their families from falling into poverty. But women were given the jobs that men did not take. So, almost 15% of women were active in the workforce by the www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 254 Published by SCHOLINK INC. beginning of the WWII (Feinstein, 2006). 2.5 World War II Public opinion was generally against the working of married women. The media and the government started a fierce propaganda and a campaign to change this opinion. The federal government told the women that victory could not be achieved without their entry into the workforce. Working was considered part of being a good citizen, and a working wife was a patriotic person (Standlee, 2010). 2.6 Post World War II World War II marked a turning point to the distribution of economic roles between women and men in the twentieth century. However, during the 1950s, the mass media promoted an image of family union that defined the mother's role as central to all domestic activities. So many women went back to look after their families as housewives. But this situation did not last long since women from lower economic ranks had to remain in the workforce because of economic necessity. So Many women returned to work to subsist and help their husbands. A baby boom trend took place during the 1950s. Women who returned home dedicated their lives once again to their children. But around the same time an important change had come in the American life. This was the spread of the television. By 1960, 90% of the population owned at least one set. Families would gather around the screen for entertainment (Feinstein, 2006). 2.7 Today The majority of women still work at the lower levels of the economic pyramid. Most are employed in clerical positions, factory work, retail sales, or service jobs. Around 50% of the workforce is female. While about 78% of all cashiers and 99% of all secretaries today are female, only 31%of managers and administrators are female. Equality in the workplace has been a mirage but it has conned millions of women into leaving their homes and destroying the family structure. It was only when economic or political factors made it necessary to get more workers that women were called to work (Daily Star, 2009). 3. Gender Differentiation and Family Roles 3.1 A Theoretical Perspective on Gender There are many theories explaining how gender behavior did emerge. Three most important models will be discussed, including biological, social and cultural, and structural models. Each perspective explains the causes that lead to different behavior among men and women: 1) The biological model: the development of the biological model is based on the biological differences between men and women influencing the behavior among them due to differences in the genetic and physical factors. Traditionally, the brain size was used as the only indicator of intelligence level. It was assumed that women have smaller brains and so should be less intelligent than the other gender. However, this assumption was proved to be based on unsubstantiated claims (Mikkola, 2012). 2) The socialization model: it suggests that sexual identity and the differences between women and men www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 255 Published by SCHOLINK INC. are acquired by the way humans passed through various stages of development. It recognizes the differences between men and women that emerged in the process of social and cognitive development assuming that men and women behave differently as a result of the learning environment (Denhart & Jeffress, 1971). 3) The structural-cultural model: this approach focuses on the social structure, arrangements and environments that define and support gender differences and the reasons why society supports boys and girls to learn these messages (Abercrombie & Turner, 2000). 3.2 Gender Differentiation in the Workplace Sex and gender are often used interchangeably. The term sex is defined by the “biological differences in the genetic composition and function. While gender, reflects interpersonal and social aspects of masculinity and femininity” (Cleveland, Stockdale, & Murphy, 2015). At the interpersonal level, gender teaches us the proper way we should behave and interact with others. Often, when men and women behave in the same way, their behavior is interpreted in very different ways. However, there is evidence that the behavior by men and women can raise different reactions by others. It is also known that, in the work field, there’s some work called “women’s work” and other work known as “men’s work” (Cleveland, Stockdale, & Murphy, 2015). 3.3 Gender Stereotypes and Attitudes Even today, the influence of stereotyping on women’s capacities and capabilities render women not eligible to be hired for senior positions, nor can they be leaders as men, they can only be followers and controlled by them. Gender stereotypes still harm women and are biased to men (Whitley & Kite, 2010). Traditional Gender Traits and Roles: Men Women Aggressive, active, competitive, strong Passive, noncompetitive, quiet Courageous, rough, hence dominant Compliant, submissive Reserved, emotionally distant Emotional, easily having feelings hurt Stereotypes are harmful to every human being. When women and men are demanding roles providing leadership and management positions, evaluations are influenced by expectations related to gender in the context. Women in professional roles, traditionally reserved for men, can be placed in a stalemate called the double threat to performance based on how they are perceived (Rosenkrantz, Vogel, Bee, Broverman, & Broverman, 1968). Sackett, DuBois and Noe (1991) found that when women accounted for less than twenty percent of the working group, the evaluation of their performance was significantly lower than those received by men. So as the number of women increases in groups, they will receive slightly higher ranking. These results suggest that the psychological satisfaction of women and their positive attitudes appear to be based on the number of women in any given organization. In so, the gender composition of the organization may be a factor that influence the number of women leaders who can reach higher positions in organizations. www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 256 Published by SCHOLINK INC. 3.4 The Changing Nature of the Family Gender roles have undergone many changes over decades, they can be described as the attitudes and behavior expected of men and women in society (Evans, 1987). 3.4.1 Traditional Families Traditionally, the experience of marriage and motherhood dominates the life and identity of women. Family structure was described as family male-oriented. Women were described as being distinct, pure and counted to be unstained. A woman was fulfilling her role as a wife, a mother and a builder of home. However, men were viewed as breadwinners for the family; they had to go outdoors to work, to provide the income of the family. The followings are the changes that shaped the new nature of today’s families: a) Economic changes: starting from the depression period, passing by the economic recession, many men lost their jobs and stayed home. This pushed women to integrate in the work force in order to save their families and provide them with the basic needs (Blair & Johnson, 1992). b) Social changes: changes in role of family genders were viewed as being difficult since everyone has a unique role to play in order to protect the family and save it. However, the revolution took place in the workforce, provided women with self-confidence to control their lives and be independent from the other partner. Nowadays, women have more liberty and freedom to choose whether to enter the workforce, or stay at home playing their traditional role as a caregiver, mothers and wives (Helm, 1977). 4. Economic Empowerment of Women Economic empowerment is referred to as a capacity of both genders to participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth processes in ways that identify the value of their contributions, respect their dignity and make it possible to negotiate a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth. Women’s economic empowerment is a human right and a social justice issue, which facilitates women’s participation in resource allocation, and contributes to reduce poverty rates and gender inequality. Economic empowerment increases women’s access to economic resources and opportunities including jobs, financial services, property and other productive assets, skills development and market information (IDRC and DIFID). Women’s economic empowerment is the most important factor which contributes to gender equality and enhances women’s living standards. In addition, it gives them the freedom to choose the way they live and how to influence the society. This process of empowerment is contingent upon the availability of resources and the ability to use them; access to economic opportunities; and the control over economic benefits. Empowering women economically will reduce the impacts of the economic crisis and will lead to economic resilience and growth. However, women are in some contexts bearing the costs of recovering from the crisis, i.e., facing the loss of jobs, working under poor conditions, and experiencing increasing precariousness. www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 257 Published by SCHOLINK INC. 4.1 Four Strategies for Achieving Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment Four strategies those contribute to achieve gender equality and women’s economic empowerment: 1) Achieving equal access to health and education services. 2) Increasing women’s voice in sharing resources and participating indecision-making process. 3) Enhancing women’s economic empowerment policies and improving the living standards of women. 4) Eliminating violence against women at home, and in their communities. 4.2 Aspects of Empowerment Emphasizing what was mentioned above, one would conclude that the ability of women to control and lead their lives is a key requirement for the success of the process of empowerment. This may involve a wide range of aspects, which can be grouped in different ways as follows (Mayoux, 2000; World Bank Institute, 2001): 1) Access to and control over various resources material and non-material resources. 2) Participation in and power over various market and non-market processes and activities at different levels in society. However, there are three categories of empowerment: political empowerment, economic empowerment, and social/legal empowerment: a. Political empowerment is defined as increasing the participation of women in legislative assemblies, their decision power in these assemblies, the ability of women to publicly voice their opinions and to affect the composition of legislative assemblies. Social and legal institutions still do not guarantee women equality in basic legal and human rights, in access to or control of land or other resources, in employment and earning, and in social and political participation. Laws against domestic violence are often not enforced on behalf of women. b. Economic empowerment: the primary factor of this type of empowerment is the ability of women to involve into employment of formal parts, self-employment, borrowing, saving and access to and control of economic resources. Examples of economic empowerment would be an increase in women’s control of household resources or an increase in women’s access to borrowing in the financial markets. c. Legal/social empowerment: this aspect is often emerged under the concept “empowerment” it is defined under the status of women whether single or married including their social conditions and their rights as stated by law. Key aspects in this group are legal rights, status and norms. Examples of legal empowerment include: the removal of legislation which constrains women from divorce, and assistance directed at supporting women in the battle for their legal rights. 5. An Overview of Gender Inequality in Lebanon Gender inequality implies a society in which both genders do not enjoy equality in outcomes and equality in opportunities (Thomas, 1990). Therefore, gender inequality is an important issue considered as being a universal feature in developing countries including Lebanon. Women’s voice in developing countries are stifled by cultural factors www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 258 Published by SCHOLINK INC. where they became silent, unlike women in developed countries who are economically, legally, and culturally empowered and have a powerful voice. Gender inequality, equal rights and equal opportunities have been affected by economic and cultural factors. For example, religiously speaking, genetic laws differ between Muslims and non-Muslims. Where the Islamic religion gives more precise details of how the inheritance should be distributed. Muslim Women may inherit from their fathers or mothers or husbands or children or in some cases from other family members, but they get less than the share of men. To non-Muslims, the code of inheritance states that men and women inherit equally, despite the fact that customs and cultural practices favour male heirs. Limited access to education and thus to employment reduces the women decision making power role in the society and at home. Internationally, their participation in national parliaments has been increasing yet no single country in this world has achieved complete gender count equality. In addition, and in accordance to the millennium indicators data base of UN (2005) shows women occupying 16% of parliamentary seats worldwide, 21% in developed countries and 14% in developing countries. This low representation of women in national parliaments could be due to women’s social and economic status, socio-cultural traditions and beliefs about women’s place in the family and society, and women’s double burden of work and family responsibilities (UNFPA, 2005). 5.1 Lebanon Structure of Society: Lebanese society is riddled with economic, political, social and sectarian divisions. The principal object of loyalty and the basis for marriage and social relationships are primary identified by Lebanese people who live in a society divided by sectarian issues and socio-economic layers including: a. The family; b. Gender roles; c. Marriage, taboos and laws. 5.2 The Family In Lebanon, family comes first in all cases especially; it backs up the individual and grants him/her political power, money and other forms of support. 5.3 Gender Roles The Lebanese family assigns different roles to every family member. Its structure is patriarchal; a father’s role is defined to be the producer and the breadwinner upon whom the family members depend. Moreover, he is the property owner and the master of family decisions. In contrast, the woman’s role is limited to those of a mother and a homemaker, despite the fact that women were used to participate in peasant work. However, the Lebanese society has given a great chance to women to play a more active social role, and allowed them to enter the workforce. Moreover, Lebanese women enjoy better civil rights than those of other Arab countries (Anderson & Baland, 2002). www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 259 Published by SCHOLINK INC. 5.4 Marriage In the past, the rule of marriage was within the lineage, where the preference for marriage of any woman was directed towards patrilineal first cousin or one relative in order to preserve the property family property and reduce tensions. Consequently, women felt secured living with whom they are relatives. However, in some conservative Muslim and Christian Lebanese villages, the choice of marriage is considered by the father and is obligatory, where no negotiation or rejection is allowed. In contrast, in Roman Catholic law the marriage of persons within the same bloodline is explicitly forbidden; the women are also free to choose their husbands. 6. Methodology This paper investigates the empowerment of women. It utilizes a descriptive research design to determine the degree of empowerment, and to provide insights into the ways in which Lebanese women may be empowered. 6.1 Research Locale and Respondents Since Banque du Libanetd’ Outre-Mer (Blom bank) is one of the largest banks in Lebanon. It was chosen as a case study for having branches all over the country. The study covered all Blom employees in the regions including: Beirut, Beirut Suburbs, South Lebanon, North Lebanon and Beqaa. The collected data for 500 women was analysed using SPSS Version 17.0. Respondents were approached to complete a one-page survey. The respondents were informed that their results would be anonymous and confidential. The first part of the questionnaire was quantitative and focused on demographic data included as marital status. The second part relates to the perceptions of the respondents on women’s contribution to the family welfare and the degree of economic independence. 6.2 Research Instruments The survey was based on a questionnaire that determined the profile of the respondents specifically the gender and marital status. Through such an instrument the respondents’ level of empowerment had been measured. 7. Results and Discussions This part of the thesis highlights the interpretation and analyses of the results of the survey questionnaire solicited from respondents. 7.1 Responses Analyses The responses Analyses is divide into two sections: the first is the distribution of the responses among the demographic aspects, and the second is the variables that answer the research questions and concerns. www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 260 Published by SCHOLINK INC. 7.1.1 Demographic Aspects “Question 1: gender classification by the respondents” Table 1. Respondents by Gender % BEIRUT S.B M.L BEKAA S.L N.L MALE 20% 35% 50% 60% 50% 55% FEMALE 80% 65% 50% 40% 50% 45% Table 1 indicates that the majority of the female respondents came from the Beirut and Beirut Suburbs regions. However, Mount Lebanon and South Lebanon statistics showed a clear balance in the gender employment. In Beqaa, it is evident from Table 1, that the slight majority of respondents are male. Similar to Beqaa, the majority of the respondents in north Lebanon are males with 55%, and the remaining 45% are females. Why in the Beqaa and North Lebanon, the female rate is lower? One of the most important causes of this inequality is due to the “wrong-practice” of the religion doctrines. While the majority of people in the Beqaa and North Lebanon are misusing the Islamic Laws, girls are taught that their primary role is to raise children and take care of the household. According to their Culture and beliefs, a woman’s place is at home and a man’s place is at the workplace. The Islamic law allows women to work, provided it does not lead to her neglecting her essential duties of homemaking. It is mainly middle-aged women with relatively older children belonging to a certain group, who attempt to start an enterprise. Other women find themselves prevented by social pressure from working independently outside the house, and do not even attempt to start their own business. Although the status of Lebanese women has improved over recent years, to some extent within the socio-cultural context—they still do not fully participate in development activities. Reality remains quite complex. The evolution of practices and mentalities seems to be far ahead of changes in the discriminatory laws, which would enable women to take up economic activities outside the home. “Question 2: classification of the respondents based on their marital status” Table 2. Respondent’s Marital Status % Beirut S.B M.L BEKAA S.L N.L Single 30% 65% 65% 50% 60% 50% Married 65% 35% 25% 45% 35% 30% Divorced 5% 0% 5% 5% 5% 10% Widowed 0% 0% 5% 0% 0% 10% www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 261 Published by SCHOLINK INC. It is obvious from Table 2, that the majority of the respondents in Beirut region are married with 65%. In contrast, in Beirut Suburbs and in Mount Lebanon, the majority are single with 65%. In addition, the Beqaa region shows slight similarities in results. The Southern region showed the majority of respondents to be single with 60%. Moreover, in the Northern region 50% of respondents are single, thus, the majority in these regions are single. So, why the numbers differ in different regions? In the 1950s and 1960s, most married women did not work outside the home, instead relying on their husbands income to support the family, in 1960, 32% of wives were in the Labour force. By 2008, that share had risen up to 61%. The net result is that a marriage gap and socio-economic gap have been growing side by side for the past half century, and each may be feeding off on the other. Adults on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder (whether measured by income or education) are just as eager as other adults to marry. Along with their greater participation in the labour force, women began to delay marriage and have fewer children. In addition, women have been faced with the challenge of balancing marriage, motherhood, and work, the changes in marriage rates are driven in large by the behaviour and attitudes of young adults, who both are delaying marriage and entering into less traditional family arrangements. The fact that young adults are delaying marriage does not necessarily mean they will never marry. 7.1.2 Dependent Variables In this section, the respondents were to indicate the degree of their agreement with the statement given. “Question 3: do you agree that working women are contributing to the welfare of the family?” Table 3. Identifies Respondents’ Opinion on the Contribution of Working Women to the Family Welfare % Beirut S.B M.L Beqaa S.L N.L Strongly agree 55% 35% 45% 30% 50% 45% Agree 40% 55% 40% 60% 50% 50% Strongly Disagree 5% 10% 15% 10% 0% 5% Disagree 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% As illustrated by Table 3, the results reflect some divided opinion, a significant number of the respondents (55%) have indicated that they strongly agree with the fact that working women are contributing to the welfare of the family, while the other 40% have only agreed with this hypothesis, however the rest 5% disagreed with this statement. Thus, majority of the respondents chose Strongly Agree or Agree. A host of studies suggest that putting earnings in women’s hand is the intelligent thing to do to speed www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 262 Published by SCHOLINK INC. up development and the process of overcoming poverty. Women usually reinvest a much higher portion in their families and communities than men, spreading wealth beyond them. This could be one reason why countries with greater gender equality tend to have lower poverty rates. Women have become more assertive in today’s modern world. They are shouldering family responsibilities and are on par with men taking care of themselves socially and economically. They are successfully earning their place in society and striving hard to become economically independent. “Question 4: do you agree that working women are economically independent?” Table 4. Identifies the Respondents’ Opinion on the Economic Independence of Women % Beirut S.B M.L Beqaa S.L N.L Strongly agree 50% 35% 15% 20% 30% 45% Agree 40% 55% 65% 70% 60% 50% Strongly Disagree 10% 10% 20% 10% 10% 5% Disagree 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% It is obvious from Table 4, that 50% of the respondents are strongly agree that working women are economically independent, 40% agree and 10% strongly disagree. Thus, majority of the respondents Agree or strongly agree with this statement. Economic independence refers to a condition where the individual woman and man have their own access to the full range of economic opportunities and resources in order to shape their own needs and those of their dependants. “Question 5: do you believe that working women are needed nowadays in the workforce?” Table 5. Appraisal Identifies Respondents’ Opinion if Working Women are Needed Nowadays in the Workforce Beirut S.B M.L Beqaa S.L N.L Strongly agree 55% 30% 55% 15% 55% 45% Agree 45% 70% 45% 75% 45% 55% Strongly Disagree 0% 0% 0% 10% 0% 0% Disagree 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% It is obvious from Table 5, that the majority between all regions 55.9% of the respondents agree that working women are needed nowadays in the workforce, 42.5% strongly agree and 1.6% disagrees. As indicated by chapter 1, during WWII, there was a labour shortage due to the fact that men were heading off to war. The U.S. government created a campaign using the fictional character of Rosie the Riveter to lure women into working. From 1940-1945, the female labour force grew by 50%. This also www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 263 Published by SCHOLINK INC. shifted cultural attitudes, making it okay for middle class women to work. 8. Conclusion The International Monetary Fund’s survey of 2006 found that “societies that increase women’s access to education, healthcare, employment, credit and that narrow the differences between women and men regarding economic opportunities, could increase the pace of economic development and reduced poverty”. Moreover, women’s economic empowerment can be achieved into five major factors including: 1) Women’s sense of self worth, 2) Their right to have and determine choices, 3) Their right to have access to opportunities and resources, 4) Their right to have the power to control their own lives (within and outside their homes), 5) Their ability to influence the direction of social change to create more just social and economic orders nationally and internationally. These five factors are peculiarly pertinent to the economic orb, where the women’s economic empowerment can be realized by targeting advantages and initiatives to magnify the women’s economic opportunities; solidify their legal status and rights; guarantee their voice, and contribution in economic decision-making processes. Recommendations The following recommendations are essential to speed up the economic empowerment process of the Lebanese women: a. Emphasize the need to solve the problems of the discriminatory behaviour, and the prejudiced attitude of men against women in the Lebanese society. b. Eliminate the stereotypes that are based on the old and the narrow minded traditions regarding the stance of the Lebanese women in society or at the workplace. c. Eliminating gender inequality in employment. d. Guaranteeing women’s property and inheritance rights which reinforce women’s effective admission to assets and other resources required for productive financial and economic activity. e. Promote equal citizenship role. f. Increasing women’s share of seats in the Lebanese parliament, bringing women’s voice into decision making process and hastening women’s enrolment in the economic agenda. g. Furthermore, Stress the need for the empowering of the incorporation of women, as equal to men, into the formal economy, and giving in particular women the authority to take part in economic decision making process. h. Express the need to introduce laws to protect women from all forms of violence especially domestic violence and sexual harassment. www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/wjssr World Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015 264 Published by SCHOLINK INC. i. Monitoring the customs and traditions and promote only the common good of them. References Abercrombie, N., Hill, S., & Turner, B. S. (2000). Social structure. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology (4th ed., pp. 326-327). London: Penguin. Alecea, S. (2010). Shifting Spheres: Gender, Labor, and the Construction of National Identity in U.S. Propaganda during the Second World War. Minerva Journal of Women and War, 4(1). Anderson, K. (2001). Wartime Women: Sex Roles, Family Relations, and the Status of Women during World War П. New York: Berkley Books. Anderson, S., & Jean-Marie, B. (2002). The economics of ROSCAs and intra-household allocation. Journal of Development Economics, 117(3), 983-995. Blair, S. L., & Johnson, M. P. 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Articles/Hartley & Renner, 2018 Economic Self-Sufficiency among Women Who Experienced IPV and Received Civil Legal Services

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Carolyn Copps Hartley1 & Lynette M. Renner2

Published online: 27 July 2018
# Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Abstract
Literature supports the impact of intimate partner violence (IPV) on women’s short and long-term material hardship; yet, little
research has examined the role of civil legal services in addressing women’s economic self-sufficiency. Using survey data from a
sample of low-income women seeking civil legal services related to IPV, we examined changes in women’s economic self-
sufficiency over a one-year period of time. The sample consisted of women who were experiencing IPVand receiving assistance
with a civil protective order (CPO) or a family law problem. Eighty-five women completed three waves of data collected,
baseline and every six months, over a period of one year. Nearly two-thirds of the women received assistance for a CPO (n =
56); the rest were represented in a family law matter. Approximately 45% of women lived in non-metro/rural areas (n = 38).
Measures of economic self-sufficiency included income, use of public assistance, adequacy of family resources, and perceptions
of the difficulty living off their current income. Women’s monthly income and adequacy of some family resources increased,
while difficulty living on their current income and the number of assistance resources used decreased (Wave 1 to 3). There was no
relation between the type or amount of legal services received and changes in study outcomes. Study findings suggest that civil
legal services are a critical component of a community coordinated response to IPV.

Keywords Intimate partner violence . Domestic violence . Civil legal services . Economic self-sufficiency

An estimated 36% of women in the U.S. experience rape,
physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner at
some point in their lifetime (Black et al. 2011). In addition,
most women who experience intimate partner violence (IPV)
report their perpetrators controlled their access to or use of
financial resources (Adams et al. 2008; Postmus et al. 2012).
IPV affects women’s finances and undermines their efforts to
become economically secure (Sanders 2015). In addition, the
relationship between IPVand economic self-sufficiency is cy-
clical in nature. IPV impacts women’s economic well-being
and low levels of economic self-sufficiency create barriers to

women exiting an abusive relationship (Hetling et al. 2016).
Civil legal services have the potential to positively address
economic self-sufficiency but few researchers have pursued
this line of inquiry. Through this study, we sought to address
this gap.

IPV, Material Hardship, and Women’s
Decisions to Leave Abusive Relationships

A component of economic self-sufficiency, adequate material
goods (e.g., food, housing, medical insurance, adequate mon-
ey to pay bills), has been found to be negatively associated
with IPV. Women experiencing recent IPV report significant
material hardship, including utilities shut-offs and food insuf-
ficiency (Adams et al. 2013; Heflin and Butler 2013; Tolman
and Rosen 2001) and unmet medical needs (Heflin and Butler
2013). Compared to low-income women who did not experi-
ence IPV, material hardship was significantly more prevalent
among low income women who did experience IPV (Romero
et al. 2003). Women whose partners controlled their access to
income and resources report even more material hardship,

* Carolyn Copps Hartley
carolyn-hartley@uiowa.edu

Lynette M. Renner
renn0042@umn.edu

1 School of Social Work, University of Iowa, 308 North Hall, Iowa
City, IA 52242, USA

2 School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, 105 Peters Hall,
1404 Gortner Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA

Journal of Family Violence (2018) 33:435–445
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-018-9977-0

Economic Self-Sufficiency among Women Who Experienced Intimate
Partner Violence and Received Civil Legal Services

http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1007/s10896-018-9977-0&domain=pdf

http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6085-5279

mailto:carolyn-hartley@uiowa.edu

including difficulty paying bills or providing food or other
necessities for their families (Adams et al. 2008). Women
who reported that their partners interfered with going to work
or school or restricted their access to money were 47% more
likely to experience material hardship compared to women
who experienced IPV but whose partners did not restrict em-
ployment or access to income (Schrag 2014).

Economic issues also present a significant barrier for wom-
en trying to leave abusive partners; and, in fact, income vari-
ables have been shown to be stronger predictors than psycho-
logical ones in women’s decisions to leave abusive relation-
ships (Anderson and Saunders 2003). Researchers have also
shown that a lack of access to economic resources makes
women dependent on abusive partners (Sullivan 1991).

The impact of IPVon women’s economic well-being con-
tinues after women exit abusive relationships (Lindhorst et al.
2007). Lack of employment and job instability can negatively
impact women for several years after the abusive relationship
ends (Adams et al. 2013; Crowne et al. 2011; Lindhorst et al.
2007). For example, Adams et al. (2013) found that women
reported significant material hardship (e.g., insufficient hous-
ing, food, and money to pay bills and utility shut offs), in part
due to their job instability as a result of the violence, which
lasted up to three years after the IPV ended.

Researchers have established the impact of IPV on
women’s access to sufficient economic resources to care for
themselves and their families, and recent interventions have
been aimed at increasing women’s financial literacy with the
goal of improving economic empowerment and self-
sufficiency (Hetling and Postmus 2014; Sanders 2007;
Sanders and Schnabel 2006; Sanders et al. 2007). What is
not known is how other domestic violence services, such as
civil legal services, might lead to positive changes in women’s
economic self-sufficiency.

The term economic self-sufficiency is not well-defined in
policy or research literature (Hetling et al. 2016). Economic
self-sufficiency is sometimes conceptualized to mean the op-
posite of receiving public assistance (Gowdy and Pearlmutter
1993) or as a measure of the cost of necessities a family needs
to live above the poverty line (Gu et al. 2010). Hetling et al.’s
(2016) validation of a measure of economic self-sufficiency
includes three dimensions: the ability to manage financial
needs (meeting financial obligations without having to borrow
from family or friends, staying on budget and paying debts),
the ability to have discretionary funds (money for extras in-
cluding vacations, money to save), and the ability to maintain
independent living (adequate housing, transportation, and
child care, freedom from government assistance). In this
study, we examined changes in both economic status (income,
use of public assistance) and economic self-sufficiency (ade-
quacy of economic resources to meet family needs) among
women who experienced IPVand received civil legal services.
Partly in line with Hetling et al.’s (2016) dimensions of

economic self-sufficiency, we conceptualized economic self-
sufficiency to include reduced reliance on assistance programs
and adequacy of family resources for physical, health, and
housing necessities (e.g., food, clothing, housing, heat, trans-
portation, phone access, dental and medical care), personal
growth (e.g., extras for family entertainment or travel, time
to spend with family and children), and adequate child care.
We also included a measure of women’s perceptions of the
difficulty living off their current income.

Civil Legal Services and Women’s Economic
Self-Sufficiency

Civil legal services encompass all legal representation that is
not criminal. Family law, which includes divorce, custody/
visitation, and/or child support petitions, and civil protective
orders (CPO), are the most common types of civil legal ser-
vices provided to women who experience IPV (Institute for
Law and Justice 2005). Unlike the criminal legal system,
where the State brings a case against a perpetrator, in the civil
legal system, women initiate a petition for a divorce, child
support, or a CPO against their partners.

Civil legal services can potentially address women’s
economic self-sufficiency by increasing women’s income
and decreasing their economic liabilities. For example, civil
legal services can benefit women economically during fam-
ily law proceedings (Hartley et al. 2013). When women
have children in common with their partner, civil attorneys
can argue for adequate child support and bring contempt
proceedings for failure to pay. In divorce proceedings, at-
torneys can help assure women receive an equitable distri-
bution of marital assets and property, in addition to arguing
for sufficient child and spousal support so women can ade-
quately care for their families. Civil attorneys can also help
reduce women’s economic liabilities when exiting a mar-
riage. If the attorney can show that the perpetrator incurred
debt during the marriage for items only he used, or accrued
credit card debt by fraudulently opening a credit card in the
woman’s name, the attorney can ask the court to assign that
debt to the perpetrator in the divorce decree. In addition, if a
woman has medical bills resulting from the abuse, the per-
petrator can be ordered to pay these bills.

Although the primary intent of a CPO is to order a perpe-
trator to stay away from a victim, CPOs can also address
economic issues. In 37 states, women can ask that a CPO
include an order for temporary child support; and, in 48 states,
a CPO can require the perpetrator to vacate the shared resi-
dence, grant the woman exclusive possession of the shared
residence regardless of ownership, or require the perpetrator
to provide suitable alternative housing for the woman and her
children (American Bar Association n.d.). These provisions
are available in Iowa where this study was conducted.

436 J Fam Viol (2018) 33:435–445

With the significant negative economic impact of IPV, it is
reasonable to assume that reducing incidents of IPV would
decrease these effects and researchers have shown that pro-
viding civil legal services reduces IPV. In a population-based
study, Farmer and Tiefenthaler (2003) found that the availabil-
ity of legal services was significantly related to declines in
domestic violence rates in the 1990s, while other service var-
iables, such as shelters, hotlines, and batterers programs, were
not significant factors in explaining these rates. The direct
financial benefits of receiving civil legal services for low-
income clients, many of whom have experienced IPV, has also
been established. Family law representation (divorce, child
support, child custody), which includes assistance with
CPOs, is the largest category of legal services provided by
federally-funded legal aid agencies, and over half of these
cases involve a client who has experienced IPV (Legal
Services Corporation 2018). In fiscal year 2015, the
Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (2015) secured
$2.2 million in child support orders averaging $128 per week.
In FY 2009–2010, legal aid attorneys in Virginia won $3.2
million in new or past case child support awards against do-
mestic abusers through CPOs, child support orders, or divorce
cases (Smith and Brewer 2011). In 2011, Iowa Legal Aid
(2013) obtained $131,360 in direct financial benefits for cli-
ents who experienced IPV.

Given that civil legal services can address a variety of eco-
nomic issues women face, the purpose of this study was to
examine changes in economic self-sufficiency among women
who experienced IPV and received civil legal services. We
anticipated that women who received these services would
report positive changes in their economic self-sufficiency over
a one-year period.

Method

Data Source

Data for this study came from a two-year panel study of wom-
en who experienced IPVand received civil legal services from
Iowa Legal Aid (ILA). Eligible participants were self-
identified victims of IPV who had contacted ILA for a civil
legal matter. ILA is a non-profit civil legal aid organization
providing services to low-income Iowans from 10 regional
offices across the state. In 2015 ILA closed 16,300 cases serv-
ing nearly 38,000 Iowans. One-third of ILA cases involve
family law issues (divorce, custody, child support, etc.), with
the majority of these involving IPV. ILA has had a long-
standing commitment to addressing IPV-related issues
through their Board-set priority of ‘preserving the safety and
stability of individuals and families’.

A longitudinal panel design was selected over other exper-
imental or quasi-experimental designs for several reasons.

First, randomly assigning women to experimental or control
(i.e., no intervention or wait-list) groups was not possible.
Victims of IPV face serious and imminent safety concerns that
could be exacerbated by assignment to a non-intervention
group. Second, a quasi-experimental design was not possible
due to the case selection procedures used by ILA. ILA prior-
itizes cases based on the immediacy of the client’s needs par-
ticularly with regard to the imminent impact of the IPV,
whether the client’s case has legal merit, and on which cases
ILA is likely to have the most impact. Thus, there are signif-
icant qualitative differences between clients served by ILA
and clients not receiving their services.

According to Rossi and Freeman (1993), when experimen-
tal or quasi-experimental designs are not possible, panel stud-
ies provide more plausibility by using additional data collec-
tion points to allow the researcher to specify the processes by
which an intervention impacts recipients. The authors assert
that Bpanel studies that involve repeated measures on the same
group over a period of time can often be used to produce
estimates of net intervention effects that have a fair degree of
credibility^ (p. 349). Panel studies are particularly relevant to
studying ‘full-coverage’ programs in which all participants
receive but are differentially exposed to the intervention. In
our study, receipt of legal aid services can be thought of as a
full-coverage program in which women received varying
types and amounts of service depending on their legal needs
and the complexity of their legal case.

Data Collection

Women recruited for this study met the following inclusion
criteria: 1) female and 18 years of age or older; 2) currently
experiencing IPVor had a recent history of being a victim of
IPV based on screening questions used by ILA during their
client intake process; 3) had minor children in the home; 4) her
case was taken by ILA (because we were assessing the longer-
term effects of civil legal services, we were only interested in
following women who actually received ILA services); and 5)
the civil legal service request was for assistance with a CPO or
a family law problem (divorce, child custody, child support).

The women were recruited shortly after ILA decided to
take their case. ILA contacted clients who met the study
criteria to obtain their permission to share their safe contact
information with the researchers. A research assistant
contacted women to explain the study and ask if they were
interested in participating. Those women who agreed were
then assigned to an interviewer in their geographic area of
the state. A total of 383 women gave permission for their
contact information to be shared with the researchers. The
research assistant reached 242 of these women. Women (n =
127) were unable to be reached because they either did not
return our calls, their phone number was no longer in service,
or their phone did not accept voicemails to leave a message.

J Fam Viol (2018) 33:435–445 437

Of these 242 women, 35 declined to participate, 207 agreed to
be interviewed, and 150 women were enrolled in the study.

Interviewers in seven locations around the state (Sioux
City, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Waterloo, Ottumwa,
Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City) conducted an initial inter-
view (Wave 1) and up four follow-up interviews (Wave 2
and 5) every six months using a survey instrument to
collect data at each wave. The interviewers participated
in an extensive, in-person training on the study proce-
dures, human subjects requirements, and dynamics of
IPV prior to conducting any interviews. Interviews were
conducted at a confidential location selected by the par-
ticipant. During the first interview, interviewers collected
detailed contact information (cell, home, and work phone
numbers, email address, home address) from the women
to facilitate being able to reach them for follow-up inter-
views. For each piece of contact information provided,
women were asked to indicate during which hours it
was safe to call, whether it was safe to leave a message
and what the message should say, and whether it was safe
to send a letter, email, or text message. In the initial in-
terview, each woman was also asked to provide contact
information for up to three people who would know her
whereabouts in case the interviewer was unable to reach
her with the contact information she provided. Women
signed a ‘permission to contact’ form that could be sent
to her alternate contact if this person had concerns about
sharing information with the researchers. Interviewers al-
so did three-month ‘check-in’ calls between follow-up
interviews to remind women of the upcoming interviews
and to update changes to their contact information. All
interviews were conducted in-person unless a participant
moved out of the area and was willing to complete a
follow-up interview by phone. All study procedures were
approved by the University of Iowa, Institutional Review
Board (IRB). Written consent was obtained during the
initial assessment interview and women were compensat-
ed for their participation.

Sample

Women were interviewed every six months for a period of two
years (Wave 1 through Wave 5). One-hundred fifty women
completed a Wave 1 interview. Of these 150 women, 112
completed Wave 2, 85 completed Wave 3, 62 completed
Wave 4, and 32 completed Wave 5.

The study sample included the 85 women who completed
Waves 1–3 interviews. The mean age of these 85 women at
Wave 1 was 31.65 years (SD = 7.23) (Table 1). All the
women had children, with the number ranging from 1 to 9,
and an average of 2.53 (SD = 1.63). The majority of women in
Wave 1 were non-Hispanic white (85.9%), although the per-
centage of non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women was

higher than their rates in the state of Iowa (sample non-
Hispanic black = 5.9%, state of Iowa = 3.4%; sample
Hispanic = 7.1%, state of Iowa = 5.6%) (United States
Census Bureau 2015). Almost three-quarters of the women
had some college or a college degree (75.3%), but only a little
over half the women (51.8%) were working at least part-time
at the time of the first interview.

The average length of the relationship between the woman
and her partner was 6.86 years (SD = 5.48). Almost all the
women reported having lived with the perpetrator at some
point (95.3%) but only 58% were ever married to him.
Women’s zip codes were used to determine their county of
residence at Wave 1. Counties were identified as metro (pop-
ulations in metro areas ranging from 250,000 to 1 million) and
nonmetro (i.e., urban populations of 20,000 or more not adja-
cent to metro areas; urban populations of 2500 to 19,999 ad-
jacent and not adjacent to metro areas; and completely rural
populations of less than 2500) based on 2013 Rural Urban

Table 1 Demographics at Wave 1 (N = 85)

Wave 1
M (SD) or n (%)

Age in years 31.65 (7.23)

Number of children 2.53 (1.63)

Race and Ethnicity

Non-Hispanic white 73 (85.88%)

Non-Hispanic black 5 (5.88%)

Hispanic 6 (7.06%)

Other 1 (1.18%)

Education level

Less than high school 8 (9.41%)

High school degree 13 (15.29%)

Some college/trade school 50 (58.82%)

Bachelor’s degree or higher 14 (16.47%)

Currently working 44 (51.76%)

Length of relationship with perpetrator of IPV 6.86 (5.48)

Was ever married to perpetrator of IPV 49 (57.65%)

Had ever lived with perpetrator of IPV 81 (95.29%)

Geographic location

Metro 47 (55.29%)

Urban 24 (28.24%)

Rural 14 (16.47%)

Index of Spouse Abuse

Total ISA (range = 0 to 100) 50.57 (18.40)

Physical Abuse (cutoff = 10) 43.94 (19.22)

Non-Physical Abuse (cutoff = 25) 62.24 (21.67)

Psychological Maltreatment of Women Inventory

Dominance-Isolation (range = 7–35) 26.31 (6.79)

Emotional-Verbal (range = 7–35) 29.92 (5.04)

Women’s Experience of Battering (range = 10–60) 51.04 (9.93)

438 J Fam Viol (2018) 33:435–445

Continuum codes (United Stated Department of Agriculture
2016). Approximately 45% of the women lived in nonmetro/
rural areas.

At Wave 1, women in the sample reported high levels of
physical and non-physical IPV (Table 1). All the women
were above the clinical cutoff score on the Index of Spouse
Abuse (ISA; Hudson and McIntosh 1981) physical abuse
subscale (cutoff of 10) and 94% were above the cutoff of
25 for the non-physical abuse subscale. Emotional-verbal
abuse and dominance-isolation were measured by the short
form of the Psychological Maltreatment of Women
Inventory (PMWI-F; Tolman 1999) and also indicated high
levels of abuse, with means for both subscales above 26
(range = 7 to 35). Finally, the mean score on the Women’s
Experience of Battering (WEB; Smith et al. 1999) was
51.04 on a scale of 10 to 60.

Sixty-six percent of women (n = 56) received assistance
from ILA for a CPO, while 34% (n = 29) sought services for
a family law problem. The average amount of billable hours
spent on a CPO case was 12.10 (SD = 6.46; range = 3.50–
35.30) and the average hours spent on a family law case was
35.06 (SD = 28.1; range = 10.50–137.65).

Attrition Analysis

The study sample included the 85 women who completed
interviews in Waves 1–3. Recruitment was ongoing and con-
tinued throughout the entire study. As such, some women
were never able to be interviewed in later waves (e.g., a wom-
an was recruited one month prior to the end of the study)
because the study ended. Based on whether a woman had
the opportunity to be interviewed in a subsequent wave, ap-
proximately 75% (n = 112; 74.7%) of the Wave 1 sample was
retained for Wave 2 and 75.9% (n = 85) of the Wave 2 sample
was retained at Wave 3. Although not used in this study, re-
tention rates for Waves 4 and 5 are 72.9% (n = 62) and 51.5%
(n = 32), respectively. Calculated in the traditional way, reten-
tion rates are 74.7% and 56.7% for Waves 2 and 3.

Attrition analyses examined the relations between demo-
graphic variables and the presence of missing data at each
wave. We tested the relations between the demographic vari-
ables and attrition for Waves 2 and 3 separately using a series
of chi-squared tests and independent samples t-tests.
Demographic variables included location (urban vs. rural),
race (non-Hispanic white vs. other), education (college degree
vs. no college degree), employment (currently working vs. not
working), type of legal services (family law vs. CPO), current
relationship status with their partner, amount of legal services
received, age, number of children, and length of relationship
with their partner. We also examined whether attrition was
related to the study outcomes by testing if data from the pre-
ceding wave (Wave X) predicted continued participation in
the current wave (Wave X + 1). For example, at Wave 3, we

looked to see if scores on the study outcomes at Wave 2 were
related to whether or not a participant was still in the study at
Wave 3.

At Wave 2, location and education level were related to
study attrition (p < .05), with women in rural settings and women with college degrees more likely to remain in the study. Women with higher scores on several IPV measures (e.g., Index of Spouse Abuse total scores and physical abuse scores, and the Women’s Experience of Battering total score) at Wave 1, were also more likely to remain in the study at Wave 2. At Wave 3, location was the only variable related to study attrition, with women in rural settings more likely to remain in the study. None of the study outcomes were related to whether participants remained in the study. Measures We examined changes in both economic status (monthly in- come, number of assistance programs used) and economic self-sufficiency. Measures of economic self-sufficiency in- cluded perceptions of the difficulty of living off one’s current income, and a measure of the adequacy of resources to meet family needs. Economic Status Total monthly income was calculated from all sources of reported income, including wages, child support, public assistance, food stamps, social security benefits, dis- ability compensation, unemployment insurance, money from family or friends, etc. Program assistance utilization measured the number of assistance programs women used. Women were asked, BIn an average month, which of the following resources do you use to help make ends meet?^ in response to: public housing assistance, utility assistance, telephone assistance, food bank, donations from church or shelter, and state-funded daycare. For each of the six assistance types, women responded ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to indicate whether the type was typically used. Economic Self-Sufficiency Women’s perceptions of how dif- ficult it is to live on their current income was measured by a single item: BIn your opinion, how difficult is it for you [and your children] to live on your current monthly income at this time?^ The five response options for this item ranged from ‘not at all difficult’ to ‘extremely difficult’. The Family Resource Scale (FRS; Dunst and Leet 1987) was used to measure women’s reports of the adequacy of various resources for her and her family at Wave 1 and each subsequent wave. Items are rated on a 5-point scale from ‘not at all adequate’ to ‘almost always adequate’ with higher scores on the FRS subscales indicating more adequate resources. We used the total FRS score (35 items, scores range from 35 to 175; Wave 1 Cronbach’s alpha = .86, Waves 2 = .86, Wave 3 = .89) and five subscales: 1) growth and support—time for J Fam Viol (2018) 33:435–445 439 personal growth and money for extras like family entertain- ment or travel (9 items, scores range from 9 to 45; Wave 1 Cronbach’s alpha = .72, Wave 2 = .79, Wave 3 = .86); 2) ne- cessities and health—money for clothing, monthly bills, and dental/medical care (11 items, scores range from 11 to 55; Wave 1 Cronbach’s alpha = .76, Wave 2 = .77, Wave 3 = .79); 3) physical necessities and shelter—food, housing, heat, transportation, and phone access (9 items, scores range from 9 to 45; Wave 1 Cronbach’s alpha = .67, Wave 2 = .58, Wave 3 = .74); 4) intra-family support—time to spend with family and children (two items, scores range from 2 to 10; Wave 1 Cronbach’s alpha = .92, Wave 2 = .82, Wave 3 = .87); and 5) child care—adequate child care (two items, scores range from 2 to 10; Wave 1 Cronbach’s alpha = .61, Wave 2 = .67, Wave 3 = .61). Amount and Type of Civil Legal Services Although clients receive free services, attorneys are required to record the amount of time spent on each case. The amount of service time was defined as the number of billable hours recorded by ILA, and this was entered into the analyses as a continuous variable. The type of legal representation was defined as either family law (e.g., divorce, custody) or CPO, which was entered into the analyses as a di- chotomous variable. Demographic Variables Information on various demograph- ic variables was collected at Wave 1. These variables in- cluded women’s age, number of children, race/ethnicity, highest education level, employment status, length of the relationship with the perpetrator, and ever married to or lived with the perpetrator. Data Analysis Repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) were con- ducted on each economic self-sufficiency measure to examine change over time. We further examined study outcomes taking into account the type of civil legal service (CPO or family law) and the amount of service hours (i.e., billable hours or time spent on a case) received; although, we had no assumptions related to the type or amount of services. Due to the low sample sizes in Waves 4 and 5, only data from Waves1–3 were used in the current analyses. Data analysis proceeded in steps. The first model was a repeated measures ANOVA using Waves 1, 2 and 3, with no covariates. If significant overall main effects were found, post hoc t tests were conducted to determine the pattern of change over time. This was followed by a model where two covari- ates, the type of legal services and the amount of service hours, were entered into the model. Regardless of the type of legal service, we anticipated that women’s economic self- sufficiency would improve over time. Results Descriptive Statistics for Economic Status and Self-Sufficiency Measures Descriptive statistics for the economic status and self- sufficiency measures at each wave are presented in Table 2. Women’s Wave 1 mean total monthly income from all sources was $1633 (SD = $1120), although this mean is slightly inflat- ed by a handful of women who reported monthly incomes over $3000. In regard to program assistance utilization, the mean number of assistance programs used at Wave 1 was 1.13 (SD = 1.19), and in fact 38% of women did not report using any assistance programs. The most frequently reported assistance programs used were utility (30.0%) and food bank assistance (26.7%). When asked about the difficulty they have living on their current income, the Wave 1 mean was 3.38 (SD = 1.18), which reflects that the women found it somewhat difficult to make ends meet. When we looked at the frequen- cies for this variable, 46% of women reported that it was ‘very’ to ‘extremely difficult’ to live on their current income. The Family Resource Scale (FRS) measures the adequacy of resources for meeting a variety of needs. There are no norms for the FRS other than higher scores indicating more adequate resources. When looking at the means for each sub- scale, women reported more adequacy for concrete resources as seen in the mean scores for the necessities and health (M = 41.29, SD = 8.22 out of a possible range of 11 to 55) and physical necessities and shelter (M = 36.64, SD = 6.42 out of a possible range of 9 to 45) subscales. They also appeared to have high levels of intra-family support (M = 8.34, SD = 2.12 out of a possible range of 2 to 10). Examining individual items on the FRS scale, the women reported that housing, food, furniture, medical and dental care for their children, depend- able transportation, and access to a phone were generally ‘usu- ally’ or ‘almost always’ adequate. What women reported as less adequate were resources to meet their own needs and things that might be considered ‘extras’. For example, when it came to resources for meeting their own needs, women reported that having time to be by themselves (50.0%), time to socialize (45.3%), and time to stay in shape and look nice (38.7%) were ‘seldom’ or ‘not at all’ adequate. With regard to ‘extras,’ 89% of women reported insufficient resources for travel and 42.6% lacked sufficient resources for family enter- tainment. In addition, 80% of women reported that having money to save was ‘seldom’ or ‘not at all’ adequate and 29% of women reported inadequate employment. Changes in Economic Status and Self-Sufficiency Measures over Time Income The repeated measures ANOVA indicated a signif- icant increase in women’s total income from Wave 1 to 440 J Fam Viol (2018) 33:435–445 Wave 3 (F(2, 168) = 3.60, p = .029). Post-hoc paired- samples t tests showed that total income at Wave 1 was significantly lower than total income at Wave 3: Wave 1/ Wave 3: t(84) = −2.40, p = .019. Changes in total monthly income over time did not remain significant after adding the two covariates, and there were no statistically signif- icant results associated with the type or amount of service hours spent on a legal case. Program Assistance Utilization The repeated measures ANOVA also revealed a significant decrease in the number of program assistance resources used over time (F(2, 168) = 3.31, p = .039). Post-hoc paired-samples t tests showed that program assistance use at Wave 1 was significantly higher than use at each of the subsequent time points: Wave 1/ Wave 2: t(84) = 2.14, p = .036; Wave 1/Wave 3: t(84) = 2.16, p = .033. The decrease in the number of program assistance resources used was maintained after adding two covariates into the model, F(2, 164) = 3.30, p = .039; however, there was no statistically significant difference associated with the types of legal services, F(2, 164) = 1.58, p = .210, or the amount of services, F(2, 164) = .65, p = .525. Difficulty Living on Current Income Results of the repeated measures ANOVA from Wave 1 to Wave 3, with no co- variates, indicated a decrease in women’s reports of diffi- culty in living on her current income (F(2, 168) = 4.95, p = .008). Post-hoc paired-samples t tests showed that dif- ficulty in living at Wave 1 was significantly higher than difficulty in living at Wave 3: Wave 1/Wave 3: t(84) = 2.96, p = .004, with no significant differences between other points of comparison. Changes in difficulty living on their current income over time did not remain signifi- cant after adding the two covariates and there were no statistically significant results associated with the type or amount of service hours spent on a legal case. Family Resource Scale The results of a repeated measures ANOVA showed a statistically significant increase in the FRS growth and support subscale across Waves 1, 2, and 3, F(2, 168) = 4.21, p = .016). Post-hoc paired-samples t tests showed that growth and support scores at Wave 1 were sig- nificantly lower than scores at Wave 3: Wave 1/Wave 3: t(84) = −2.50, p = .014. This change was not maintained after covariates were entered into the model, F(2, 164) = 1.64, p = .198, and there were no statistically significant differences between the types of legal services, F(2, 164) = .69, p = .506, or the amount services, F(2, 164) = .17, p = .845. In regard to the necessities and health and physical necessities and shelter subscales, the intra-family support subscale, and the child care subscale, the results showed no statistically significant change in scores from Waves 1 to 3. When examining the total FRS score, the results showed a statistically significant increase from Waves 1 to 3, F(2, 168) = 4.39, p = .014. Post-hoc paired-samples t tests showed that total FRS scores at Wave 1 were significantly lower than total FRS scores at Wave 3: Wave 1/Wave 3: t(84) = −2.79, p = .007. However, after in- cluding covariates, this result was not upheld, F(2, 164) = 1.98, p = .141, and there were no statistically significant dif- ferences associated with the type of legal services, F(2, 164) = 1.28, p = .281, or the amount of legal services, F(2,164) = .26, p = .771. Discussion The purpose of this study was to examine changes in measures of economic self-sufficiency among women who experienced IPV and received civil legal services. We looked at both the provision of family law services (divorce, child custody, child support) and CPOs; because after CPOs, family law services represent the largest category of legal services provided by Table 2 Means and standard deviations for economic self-sufficiency measures by wave Wave 1 Wave 2 Wave 3 Overall F-statistic Overall p-value Total Monthly Income 1633.62 (1120.34) 1741.31 (965.38) 1952.45* (1143.68) 3.60 .029 Program Assistance Utilization (range = 0–6) 1.13 (1.19) .92 (1.06)* .87 (1.44)* 3.31 .039 Difficulty Living on Current Income (range = 0–5) 3.38 (1.18) 3.16 (1.23) 3.04 (1.40)*** 4.95 .008 Family Resource Scale Total Score (range = 35–175) 119.18 (21.09) 122.24 (20.85) 125.16 (23.11)*** 4.30 .014 Growth and Support (range = 9–45) 22.27 (6.59) 22.93 (7.47) 24.47 (8.56)* 4.21 .016 Necessities and Health (range = 11–55) 41.29 (8.22) 42.61 (7.94) 43.14 (8.20) 2.90 .058 Physical Necessities and Shelter (range = 9–45) 36.64 (6.42) 38.05 (5.02) 37.28 (6.78) 2.02 .136 Intra-family Support (range = 2–10) 8.34 (2.12) 8.07 (2.18) 8.25 (2.03) .592 .555 Child Care (range = 2–10) 4.98 (2.26) 5.13 (3.78) 5.74 (3.65) 2.51 .085 Overall F-statistic and p-value refer to repeated measures ANOVA with no covariates Significance levels denote change from Wave 1: * = p < .05; ** = p < .01; *** = p < .001 J Fam Viol (2018) 33:435–445 441 legal aid offices to women experiencing IPV (Institute for Law and Justice 2005). The women’s economic vulnerability was clearly reflected in their financial circumstances at the initial interview. Most women reported low total monthly incomes, found it either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ difficult to live on their current income, and reported less than adequate resources for meeting their own needs or for ‘extras’ for their family. Women also report- ed that they had very little money left over on a monthly basis that could be saved to build assets. Women’s concrete economic indicators, income and pro- gram assistance use, changed from Wave 1 to Wave 3; perhaps most notably, women’s average monthly income increased by 19.52% between Waves 1 and 3. Although this income in- crease may seem modest, researchers have shown that women’s income declines precipitously after a separation or divorce (Forste and Heaton 2004; Gadalla 2009). In fact, Gadalla (2009) found that women’s median income dropped by 30% in the first year post-dissolution. Changes in the measures of some of the domains of economic self-sufficiency were mixed. Women’s percep- tions of the difficulty living off their current income de- creased over time but their reports of the adequacy of family resources for physical, health, and housing neces- sities (food, clothing, housing, heat, transportation, phone access, dental and medical care), intra-family support, and child care did not change. This was likely due to the fact that most women reported these resources to be sufficient- ly adequate at Wave 1. Women reported significant in- creases in the adequacy in personal growth and support (time for personal growth and money for extras like fam- ily entertainment or travel) and overall adequacy of family resources as measured by the total FRS. For the positive changes in women’s economic situations over a one-year period of time, however, we found no relation between the type or amount of legal services received and changes in the economic self-sufficiency measures. Improvements in women’s economic self-sufficiency after receiving civil legal services run counter to previous literature that shows that IPV continues to negatively impact women’s economic well-being after exiting an abusive relationship (Adams et al. 2013; Crowne et al. 2011; Lindhorst et al. 2007). These improvements were seen for women who re- ceived assistance with a CPO or a family law case, despite the fact that the number of hours of representation received for a family law case was more than double that of a CPO case. This may suggest that it is the provisions in the CPO order (a child custody/support order or a temporary possession of the marital home) and not the amount of time spent on the case, that impacts women’s economic self-sufficiency. However, the consistency with which judges order child support when granting custody in a CPO would need to be established in order to examine the accuracy of this suggestion. Limitations Limitations of the study methods include sample attrition across waves, possible selection bias in the initial recruitment, the use of self-report measures, and a lack of pre-intervention measures of women’s economic self-sufficiency. In regard to sample attrition, only 75% of the current Wave 1 sample was retained for Wave 2, and the retention rate for Wave 3 was even lower. However, as noted earlier, some women did not have the opportunity to be retained for the full study length because they were recruited towards the end of the study pe- riod. In addition, we found no significant differences between women retained and those who were lost to follow-up for any of the study outcomes. Despite the loss of participants over time, a strength of our study remains its longitudinal design and repeated measures. Cross-sectional studies are ill- equipped to establish temporal ordering among variables of interest and address research questions that rely on data from multiple time points. However, we are not able to draw causal inferences as there may have been unmeasured confounding variables influencing the differences found. A second limitation that could hinder our ability to generalize our results is selection bias in the initial recruit- ment. ILA uses an income and assets means test for which clients’ household incomes generally must be at or below 187% of the federal poverty guideline to receive services. Due to limited resources, ILA also prioritizes cases where women’s reported IPV poses a serious and imminent risk. Thus, the results of our study may only apply to lower income women experiencing more severe IPV. The wom- en in our sample also only received one of two types of legal services: assistance with a CPO or a family law (divorce, child custody, and/or child support) case. Although these are the two most common legal services requested by women experiencing IPV, they are not the only legal issues that women who experience IPV may have and our results might change if women seeking other types of services, such as representation for an eviction or housing discrimination, an unfair employment termina- tion, or denial of public assistance benefits were included. A third limitation is the use of self-report measures. Women were the sole respondents regarding their victimiza- tion and economic circumstances. As such, their data may be limited by recall and social desirability. A strength of the study, however, was the array of economic self-sufficiency measures used. In addition to concrete measures of income and program assistance utilization, we measured women’s perceptions of the adequacy of a breadth of resources to meet their family’s needs. Finally, any conclusions about the association between receipt of civil legal services and changes in women’s eco- nomic self-sufficiency are limited by a lack of pre- intervention (before civil legal services were received) 442 J Fam Viol (2018) 33:435–445 measures of women’s economic status. Without baseline measures, we cannot establish whether women’s economic well-being was changing before receiving services; how- ever, ethical concerns would not have allowed us to delay women’s service receipt to collect such baseline data. Implications for Practice The majority of research on legal responses to IPV has focused on criminal justice system responses and the ef- fects of arrest (Bouffard and Muftić 2007; Klein and Tobin 2008), prosecution (Davis et al. 1998), and court- ordered treatment of batterers (Bennett et al. 2007) on women’s safety; thus, ignoring other influential types of legal responses. Since the late 1990s, researchers have examined coordinated community responses (CCRs) to IPV, wherein the ‘community’ entities typically consist of the criminal justice system, social service agencies, and shelters (Malik et al. 2008; Pennington-Zoellner 2009). The role of civil legal services as part of a coordi- nated response to IPV continues to be largely absent from criminal justice and social service research and practice literature; and in fact, many studies of CCRs look almost exclusively at criminal justice responses (e.g., arrest, pros- ecution, court-ordered treatment) (Babcock and Steiner 1999; Murphy et al. 1998; Salazar et al. 2007; Shepard et al. 2002; Syers and Edleson 1992). Even a more recent review of the components of CCRs gives only brief men- tion of CPOs as a criminal justice service for victims of IPV (Shorey et al. 2014). However, examining the needs of women who experienced IPV six months after leaving shelter programs, Allen et al. (2004) found that 59% of these women identified working on legal issues complete- ly unrelated to the prosecution of the perpetrator or obtaining a protection order. Instead these women were seeking divorces, working out child custody, support and visitation issues, or dealing with landlord/tenant or hous- ing matters. As the authors noted, their findings on other needs that IPV victims face is particularly salient given that CCR efforts Balmost always focus on creating re- forms in the criminal justice system^ (p. 1030). The criminal justice system is critical to fostering bat- terer accountability; yet it is equally imperative to under- stand the continuum of battered women’s self-identified needs and make improvements in practice and policy to increase the accessibility of needed resources. CCRs must more purposefully link with organizations that can en- hance women’s longer-term quality of life and economic self-sufficiency. Findings of this study suggest that civil legal services are a critical component of a community coordinated response to IPV and one that has been under-recognized and under-studied for far too long. Implications for Future Research In this study, we examined only two types of civil legal services, family law and CPOs, in a state with a mostly homogenous population. In the future, researchers should examine other types of civil legal representation that may have direct effects on economic self-sufficiency such as employment and housing discrimination, consumer law, tort claims, and administrative cases pertaining to denials of income benefits. Future studies of civil legal services for women experiencing IPV need to include more diverse samples and even national probability samples that are more rep- resentative of women in other locations. Our study only included low-income women who were receiving legal aid services in a single state. Researchers should also ex- amine the legal needs of women who are not income- eligible for legal aid services to determine if and where they are getting their legal needs met. Researchers should also examine the sources of the women’s income to un- derstand how they are making ends meet. Women relying on child or spousal support from an abusive partner are not able to achieve the same level of economic indepen- dence compared to women who are able to meet their family’s needs through their own earnings. Finally, randomized comparative studies of the effects of civil legal services on women’s economic self-sufficiency for women who did and did not receive services may not be possible given the ethical concerns of withholding or delaying an intervention to women experiencing imminent effects of IPV. However, comparisons of women who receive represen- tation by an attorney compared to women who seek a CPO or a family law matter through pro se representation could help discern the effects of full legal representation on economic outcomes and researchers could design studies with this in mind. Researchers should also examine the specific economic benefits (amount of child and spousal support, distribution of marital assets, attribution of marital debt) ordered in divorce decrees or in CPOs (child support, temporary possession of the marital home) and how these benefits influence women’s long-term economic self-sufficiency. Acknowledgments This project was supported by Award No. 2010-WG- BX-0009, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and con- clusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice. We would like to thank Shellie Mackel, Dennis Groenenboom, and the AmeriCorps workers at Iowa Legal Aid for their support and contribu- tions to the project. We also thank the research assistants and interviewers who devoted so much time and effort to the project. 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Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Economic Self-Sufficiency among Women Who Experienced Intimate Partner Violence and Received Civil Legal Services Abstract IPV, Material Hardship, and Women’s Decisions to Leave Abusive Relationships Civil Legal Services and Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Method Data Source Data Collection Sample Attrition Analysis Measures Data Analysis Results Descriptive Statistics for Economic Status and Self-Sufficiency Measures Changes in Economic Status and Self-Sufficiency Measures over Time Discussion Limitations Implications for Practice Implications for Future Research References Articles/Hasler & Lusardi, 2017, The-Gender-Gap-in-Financial-Literacy-A-Global-Perspective-Report The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 1www.gflec.org The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective July 2017 Authors: Andrea Hasler Annamaria Lusardi Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, The George Washington University School of Business Research support was provided by the Global Thinking Foundation. The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 1 Introduction 2 Measuring financial literacy around the world 3 Worldwide financial literacy gender gap 4 Saving, financial fragility, and borrowing among women 7 Case study: Italy 15 Conclusion 16 Appendix References Contents The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 2 Introduction Financial illiteracy is widespread, and individuals lack knowledge of even the most basic economic principles. One striking feature of the empirical data on financial literacy is the large and persistent gender difference (Lusardi and Mitchell, 2014). Because women face unique financial challenges, they need financial knowledge in order to build a financially secure future. Women’s distinct challenges arise from life expectancies that are longer than men’s, lower lifetime income than men, and career interruptions due to child rearing. As women are likely to spend at least part of their retirement in widowhood, they have different savings needs than men. Moreover, women are much less likely to plan and, thus, less likely to be prepared for their retirement than men (Lusardi and Mitchell, 2008). Further, lower financial skills combined with fewer available resources puts women’s financial security after retirement at risk. Low financial knowledge has substantial consequences because it is linked to several other financial decisions. Those who are more financially literate are more likely to invest in the stock market and pay attention to fees, to borrow at low costs, to accumulate retirement wealth, and to diversify risk (see, e.g., Lusardi and Mitchell, 2008; van Rooij et al., 2011; Lusardi and de Bassa Scheresberg, 2013; Lusardi and Mitchell, 2014; Lusardi and Tufano, 2015). Thus, it is important to know the extent of women’s understanding of basic financial concepts as well as the degree to which financial skills fall short. Many papers show that women display lower financial literacy and confidence than men, leaving them at a potential disadvantage. Even those for whom financial knowledge is likely to be very important—for example widows or single women—know little about concepts relevant for day-to-day financial decision making. This is in line with the paper by Bucher-Koenen et al. (2016) that investigates gender differences in the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands, which finds a persistent gender gap in financial literacy that is independent of socioeconomic background as well as cultural and institutional context. While existing literature shows strong evidence on the gender gap, the samples are often restricted to one country or a handful of countries (Fonseca et al., 2012; Bucher-Koenen et al., 2016). With data from the 2014 Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey (S&P Global FinLit Survey), we can elevate the existing research on the gender gap to a global level, making this report the first to analyze and discuss the gender gap worldwide. The very comprehensive S&P Global FinLit Survey data set allows us to study differences in the financial literacy rates between men and women around the world. The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 3 Measuring financial literacy around the world The Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey (S&P Global FinLit Survey) delivers the most comprehensive global gauge of financial literacy to date. It builds on early initiatives by the International Network on Financial Education (INFE) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank’s Financial Capability and Household Surveys, the Financial Literacy around the World (FLAT World) project, and numerous national survey initiatives that collect information on financial literacy. More than 150,000 nationally representative and randomly selected adults in more than 140 economies were interviewed.1 By showing where financial skills are strong and where they are lacking, the S&P Global FinLit Survey can help stakeholders design policies and programs to improve the financial well-being of individuals around the world. Financial literacy was measured using questions assessing basic knowledge of four fundamental concepts in financial decision making: numeracy (interest), compound interest, inflation, and risk diversification. The wording of the questions is as follows (the answer options are in brackets, with the correct answer in bold.) • Numeracy (Interest) Suppose you need to borrow 100 US dollars. Which is the lower amount to pay back: 105 US dollars or 100 US dollars plus three percent? [105 US dollars; 100 US dollars plus three percent; don’t know; refuse to answer] • Compound Interest Suppose you put money in the bank for two years and the bank agrees to add 15 percent per year to your account. Will the bank add more money to your account the second year than it did the first year, or will it add the same amount of money both years? [more; the same; don’t know; refuse to answer] Suppose you had 100 US dollars in a savings account and the bank adds 10 percent per year to the account. How much money would you have in the account after five years if you did not remove any money from the account? [more than 150 dollars; exactly 150 dollars; less than 150 dollars; don’t know; refuse to answer] • Inflation Suppose over the next 10 years the prices of the things you buy double. If your income also doubles, will you be able to buy less than you can buy today, the same as you can buy today, or more than you can buy today? [less; the same; more; don’t know; refuse to answer] • Risk Diversification Suppose you have some money. Is it safer to put your money into one business or investment, or to put your money into multiple businesses or investments? [one business or investment; multiple businesses or investments; don’t know; refuse to answer] A person is defined as financially literate when he or she demonstrates understanding (via correct answers to the questions) of at least three out of the four financial concepts noted above. This definition was chosen because the concepts are basic and this is what would correspond to a passing grade. 1 For more information about this survey, the methodology and some of the main findings, see Klapper, Lusardi, and van Oudheusden (2015). The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 4 Worldwide financial literacy gender gap In general, financial literacy around the world is rather low. Worldwide, 33% of adults are financially literate, i.e., they demonstrate understanding of at least three out of four concepts. In other words, 77% of the global adult population—roughly 3.5 billion people—most of them in developing economies, lack an understanding of basic financial concepts. Importantly, the S&P Global FinLit Survey shows lower financial literacy rates among women for the great majority of countries. Figure 1 compares the percentage of women to the percentage of men who are financially literate by country. Each marker represents a different country. If men and women had equal financial skills, the dots would lie on the 45-degree line. As seen in the figure, in most economies around the world, men have a better understanding of basic financial concepts than women. Figure 1: Financial literacy rates among men and women around the world Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey. In concrete numbers, worldwide, 35% of men are financially literate compared with 30% of women (Figure 2). Moreover, this gender gap is found in both advanced economies (e.g., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the so-called G7) as well as emerging economies (e.g., Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa—the so-called BRICS) around the world. As can be seen in Figure 2, the gap is, on average, around 5% across the BRICS, and 8% for the G7 countries. However, when comparing these average numbers, it must be noted that across the G7, a higher fraction of the population answers three out of the four concepts correctly compared to the population of the BRICS. In the G7 countries, on average, 55% of adults are financially literate, whereas in the BRICS, on average, 28% of the adult population is financially literate. Thus, basic financial knowledge and skills differ enormously 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% P er ce n ta ge o f fi n an ci al ly li te ra te w o m en Percentage of financially literate men The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 5 between the G7 and BRICS economies. However, despite these differences, the gender gap in financial literacy persistently occurs across different countries within both advanced and emerging economies. An important finding emerges when examining the answers respondents provided to the financial literacy questions. Women are disproportionately more likely than men to respond to a question with “do not know.” Strikingly, this finding holds true across countries. Figure 2 shows the percentages of “do not know” responses of men and women globally and for major advanced and emerging economies. For all three breakdowns, the “do not know” responses are higher for women than men. This finding is consistently observed in other studies as well (e.g., Lusardi and Mitchell, 2014). Figure 2: Financial skills by gender: Percentage of adults with “correct” or “don’t know” answers Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey. In what follows, we focus on the G20 countries, which comprise a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies. Members of the G20 are 19 individual countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States) along with the European Union. These countries represent about two-thirds of the world’s population and 85% of the global gross domestic product. Thus, focusing on these countries allows us to compare the gender gap in financial literacy among countries whose size and strategic importance gives them a particularly crucial role in the global economy. We can also focus on countries whose economic systems share similarities. Figure 3 depicts the percentages of financially literate men and women along with the gender gap for the G20 countries. Overall, financial literacy rates tend to be higher in high-income economies such as Canada, Australia, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom. However, we find large variation in rates even among the G20 countries. Further, we see, on one hand, comparable literacy rates for men and women for Japan, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and China. On the other hand, Canada, Australia, Italy, Indonesia, and Brazil are among the countries with the highest gender gaps. MAJOR ADVANCED ECONOMIESWORLD MAJOR EMERGING ECONOMIES 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 35% 30% 16% 22% 59% 51% 8% 12% 30% 25% 20% 27% M en W o m en 3 out of 4 topics correct average don’t know response rates 3 out of 4 topics correct average don’t know response rates 3 out of 4 topics correct average don’t know response rates The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 6 Figure 3: Percentage of financially literate adults among the G20 countries Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey. In order to explore the connection between a country’s income level and its gender gap, Figure 4 shows the distribution of the gender gap in financial literacy for the World Bank’s four country income classification groups (low, lower middle, upper middle, and high). The boxplots show the median, mean (cross), and the upper and lower quartiles, which represent 50% of all countries of the respective income group. Interestingly, the pattern of gender differences in financial literacy does not change with income level. A similar gender gap is seen in both high- and low-income economies. This important finding reveals that the gender difference is not limited to just a few countries, but exists around the world, in developing as well as advanced economies, and is independent of the country’s income level. Thus, the gender gap in financial literacy is large and persistent across countries, and there is no evidence that income helps explain it. Further, it is important to note that financial literacy rates are overall much lower among low-income countries. This fact points out that women’s financial knowledge is particularly low in those economies. Figure 4: Boxplots of the gender gap distribution split by country income levels Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and World Bank country classification as of March 2014. Note: For the 2014 fiscal year, low-income economies are defined as those with a gross national income per capita, of $1,035 or less in 2012; lower middle-income economies are those with a gross national income per capita between $1,036 and $4,085; upper middle-income economies are those with a gross national income per capita between $4,086 and $12,615; and high-income economies are those with a gross national income per capita of $12,615 or more. https://datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/knowledgebase/articles/906519-world-bank- country-and-lending-groups -10% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% M ex ico Ja pa n Un ite d Ki ng do m So ut h Af ric a Ch in a Sa ud i A ra bi a Ru ss ia n Fe de ra tio n Ko re a, R ep . In di a Ar ge nt in a Fr an ce Tu rk ey Un ite d St at es Ge rm an y Br az il In do ne sia Ita ly Au st ra lia Ca na da At least 3 out of 4 answers correct - men At least 3 out of 4 answers correct - women Financial literacy gap (men - women) -5% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% LOW INCOME LOWER MIDDLE INCOME UPPER MIDDLE INCOME HIGH INCOME The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 7 Saving, financial fragility, and borrowing among women In this section we focus on the relationship between financial literacy and saving and borrowing among women, as well as financial fragility across the G20 economies. Further, we compare the financial choices of men and women and relate those to their understanding of financial concepts. Saving The fraction of people who personally saved or set aside money by using an account at a bank or another type of formal financial institution (formal saving mechanism) over the past 12 months, is highly variable among the G20 countries (Figure 5). Furthermore, formal saving is more prevalent among men than women. Interestingly, the gender gap among the G20 for the use of formal saving mechanisms is the largest in Italy, at 22% (with 23% of women using formal saving vs. 45% of men), followed by France at 12% (46% of women vs. 58% of men), and Saudi Arabia at 11% (9% of women vs. 20% of men). Figure 5: Percentage of men and women saving at financial institutions Source: Global Findex Database 2014. Furthermore, Figure 6 shows that financial literacy among women is positively correlated with formal saving habits. In other words, those with high financial literacy are more likely to save at a financial institution. The same positive relationship is seen for men as well (Figure 7). Both graphs simply show a positive correlation between financial knowledge and formal savings rather than a causal relationship. Ar ge nt in a Au st ra lia Br az il Ca na da Ch in a Fr an ce Ge rm an y In di a In do ne sia Ita ly Ja pa n Ko re a, R ep . M ex ico Ru ss ia n Fe de ra tio n Sa ud i A ra bi a So ut h Af ric a Tu rk ey Un ite d Ki ng do m Un ite d St at es % o f m en a n d w o m en s av in g at fi n an ci al in st it u ti o n s men 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% women The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 8 Figure 6: Financial literacy among women and percentage of women saving at financial institutions Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. Figure 7: Financial literacy among men and percentage of men saving at financial institutions Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. Even though we find a positive link between formal saving habits and financial knowledge, many individuals may not be fully benefitting from what their accounts have to offer, as a large fraction of the population lacks financial skills. Figure 8 shows the percentages of adults in each country who are not able to correctly answer the two compound interest questions in the S&P Global FinLit Survey along with the fraction of the population who saves using an account at a bank or other financial institution. Overall, the fraction of people not able to correctly answer the two compound interest questions ranges from 32% in Canada to 69% in Argentina and Japan. Even though in most G20 countries individuals use an account at formal financial institutions, around two-thirds of the population do not grasp compound interest. Argentina Australia Brazil Canada China France Germany India Indonesia Italy Japan Korea, Rep. Mexico Russian Federation Saudi Arabia South Africa Turkey United Kingdom United States 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%% o f w o m en s av in g at fi n an ci al in st it u ti o n s Financial literacy rate of women Argentina Australia Brazil Canada China France Germany India Indonesia Italy Japan Korea, Rep. Mexico Russian Federation Saudi Arabia South Africa Turkey United Kingdom United States 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% % o f m en s av in g at fi n an ci al in st it u ti o n s Financial literacy rate of men The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 9 Figure 8: Percentage of adults NOT correctly answering the compound interest questions and the fraction of the population saving using an account at formal financial institutions Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. Next, we focus on savings for old age and find that women tend to save less for their retirement than men (Figure 9). The fraction of the population saving for their old age varies greatly across G20 countries. Once again, Italy shows a pronounced gender gap of 11% in retirement savings (with 20% of women saving for retirement vs. 31% of men). Among the G20 economies, this gender difference is greater only in the United Kingdom, with a gap of 15%, where, however, 33% of women and 48% of men save for retirement. Figure 9: Percentage of men and women saving for old age Source: Global Findex Database 2014. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% % o f ad u lt s sa vi n g at fi n an ci al in st it u ti o n s % o f ad u lt s N O T co rr ec tl y an sw er in g co m p o u n d in te re st q u es ti o n s Compound interest questions not correct Saving at financial institutions Ar ge nt in a Au st ra lia Br az il Ca na da Ch in a Fr an ce Ge rm an y In di a In do ne sia Ita ly Ja pa n Ko re a, R ep . M ex ico Ru ss ia n Fe de ra tio n Sa ud i A ra bi a So ut h Af ric a Tu rk ey Un ite d Ki ng do m Un ite d St at es 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% % o f m en a n d w o m en s av in g fo r o ld a ge Ar ge nt in a Au st ra lia Br az il Ca na da Ch in a Fr an ce Ge rm an y In di a In do ne sia Ita ly Ja pa n Ko re a, R ep . M ex ico Ru ss ia n Fe de ra tio n Sa ud i A ra bi a So ut h Af ric a Tu rk ey Un ite d Ki ng do m Un ite d St at es men women The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 10 Further, we see a strong correlation between financial literacy rates and retirement saving behavior among women (Figure 10) as well as among men (Figure 11).2 This correlation emphasizes the potential effect financial knowledge has on financial behavior and decision making. People with a better understanding of basic financial concepts and life-long consequences of financial decisions are more likely to set aside money for their golden years, a finding that holds true in many empirical studies (Lusardi and Mitchell, 2014). Figure 10: Financial literacy among women and percentage of women saving for old age Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. Figure 11: Financial literacy among men and percentage of men saving for old age Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. 2 The survey question asks whether respondents have personally saved or set aside any money for old age over the past 12 months. Argentina Australia Brazil Canada China France Germany India Indonesia Italy JapanKorea, Rep. Mexico Russian Federation Saudi Arabia South Africa Turkey United Kingdom United States 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% % o f w o m en s av in g fo r o ld a ge Financial literacy rate of women Argentina Australia Brazil Canada China France Germany India Indonesia Italy Japan Korea, Rep. Mexico Russian FederationSaudi Arabia South Africa Turkey United Kingdom United States 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% % o f m en s av in g fo r o ld a ge Financial literacy rate of men The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 11 Financial fragility Financial literacy also strongly correlates with financial fragility (Lusardi and Mitchell, 2017a). Being more financially knowledgeable is associated with a higher probability of being able to handle unexpected financial hardship. The percentage of people age 15 and above who reported that it would not be possible for them to come up with funds to cover an emergency within the following month is the indicator of financial fragility we consider in this report. The emergency amount given on the survey was equal to 1/20 of the gross national income per capita in local currency. A similar measure was discussed in detail in Lusardi, Schneider, and Tufano (2011). As can be seen in Figure 12, a significantly higher percentage of women than men tend to struggle with access to emergency funds. These average percentages range widely across G20 countries, from around 7% in Germany to around 50% in Turkey. The gender differences are highly variable as well, with the largest in Italy (where, on average, 17% more women struggle than men), Turkey (15%), and Canada (10%). Figure 12: Percentage of men and women unable to come up with emergency funds Source: Global Findex Database 2014. Moreover, the S&P Global FinLit Survey data show that the percentage of women who report that they cannot come up with emergency funds is negatively correlated with their financial literacy rates (Figure 13). A similar pattern is seen for men (Figure 14). Thus, the higher the average financial literacy rate among a country’s population, the more prepared the country’s population is, on average, for financial hardship. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% % o f m en a n d w o m en u n ab le t o c o m e u p w it h em er ge n cy f u n d s Ar ge nt in a Au st ra lia Br az il Ca na da Ch in a Fr an ce Ge rm an y In di a In do ne sia Ita ly Ja pa n Ko re a, R ep . M ex ico Ru ss ia n Fe de ra tio n Sa ud i A ra bi a So ut h Af ric a Tu rk ey Un ite d Ki ng do m Un ite d St at es men women The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 12 Figure 13: Financial literacy among women and percentage of women unable to come up with emergency funds Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. Figure 14: Financial literacy among men and percentage of men unable to come up with emergency funds Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. Borrowing In addition to examining saving data, we can also examine data about borrowing. As shown in Figure 15, in the G20 economies, women are less likely than men to borrow. Survey respondents were asked whether they have, by themselves or together with someone else, borrowed any money from a bank or other type of formal financial institution within the past 12 months.3 This variable does not include outstanding credit 3 In this study, the past 12 months indicate borrowing in the year 2013. Argentina Australia Brazil Canada China France Germany India Indonesia Italy JapanKorea, Rep. Mexico Russian Federation Saudi Arabia South Africa Turkey United Kingdom United States 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% % o f w o m en u n ab le t o c o m e u p w it h em er ge n cy f u n d s Financial literacy rate of women Argentina Australia Brazil Canada China France Germany India Indonesia Italy Japan Korea, Rep. Mexico Russian Federation Saudi Arabia South Africa Turkey United Kingdom United States 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Financial literacy rate of men % o f m en u n ab le t o c o m e u p w it h em er ge n cy f u n d s The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 13 card balances. Interestingly, the percentage of the population using formal borrowing instruments varies a lot across the G20 countries, from an average of less than 10% in Argentina, India, and Japan to around one- quarter of the population in Australia, Canada, and the United States. Moreover, the gender gap in borrowing from formal financial institutions is found to be rather high—around 10%—in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. In all other countries, the average gender gap is around 5%, except for the Russian Federation, which is the only G20 country with more women than men using formal borrowing instruments. Figure 15: Percentage of men and women borrowing from financial institutions Source: Global Findex Database 2014. Figure 16 and Figure 17 show the relationship between financial literacy and borrowing from financial institutions for women and men, respectively. We find a strong and positive correlation between financial literacy rates and use of formal credit, with similar correlations for women and men. It is important to note again that these are analyses of the correlation between financial knowledge and financial decision making rather than of causal relationships. We still find that understanding of financial concepts related to borrowing is rather low, even in the countries with the highest rates of formal credit use (Figure 18). In the G20 countries in which around one-quarter of the population uses formal borrowing (i.e., Canada, Australia, and the United States), only about 60% of population demonstrates understanding of the workings of interest rates. This implies that there are large segments of the population of these countries who are borrowing without fully understanding the effects that interest rates have on the total amounts owed. 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% % o f m en a n d w o m en b o rr o w in g fr o m fi n an ci al in st it u ti o n s Ar ge nt in a Au st ra lia Br az il Ca na da Ch in a Fr an ce Ge rm an y In di a In do ne sia Ita ly Ja pa n Ko re a, R ep . M ex ico Ru ss ia n Fe de ra tio n Sa ud i A ra bi a So ut h Af ric a Tu rk ey Un ite d Ki ng do m Un ite d St at es men women The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 14 Figure 16: Financial literacy among women and percentage of women borrowing from financial institutions Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. Figure 17: Financial literacy among men and percentage of men borrowing from financial institutions Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. Argentina Australia Brazil Canada China France Germany India Indonesia Italy Japan Korea, Rep. Mexico Russian Federation Saudi Arabia South Africa Turkey United Kingdom United States 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% % o f w o m en b o rr o w in g fr o m fi n an ci al in st it u ti o n s Financial literacy rate of women Argentina Australia Brazil Canada China France Germany India Indonesia Italy Japan Korea, Rep. Mexico Russian Federation Saudi Arabia South Africa Turkey United Kingdom United States 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% % o f m en b o rr o w in g fr o m fi n an ci al in st it u ti o n s Financial literacy rate of men The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 15 Figure 18: Percentage of adults NOT correctly answering the interest question and the fraction of the population borrowing from formal financial institutions Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey and Global Findex Database 2014. Case study: Italy Of major advanced economies, Italy has the lowest percentage of financially literate people. Only 37% of Italians are able to correctly answer at least three out of four basic financial concepts. Further, among the G20, Italy has the largest gender gap in financial literacy, at 15%; 45% of Italian men are financially literate, whereas only 30% of women are. This gap is comparably high for Australia (15%) and Canada (17%), but in contrast to Italy, in those countries around 75% of men can correctly answer at least three out of the four concepts compared to around 58% of women. Italy’s gender gap in relation to the country’s financial literacy rate is comparable to countries such as Indonesia and Brazil (Figure 3). Italian women tend to engage less with financial services and institutions than men compared to women in the other major advanced economies (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States). For example, 83% of Italian women have their own or a joint account at a bank, or another type of formal financial institution, whereas the percentage among men stands at 92%. Among the other major advanced economies, 95% to 99% of the population holds an account, on average, and the percentage is similar for men and women. Furthermore, on average, fewer Italian women tend to save for either retirement or unexpected financial hardship than men. This, in combination with low financial literacy, shows the potential vulnerability of women in Italy. 0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% % o f ad u lt s b o rr o w in g fr o m fi n an ci al in st it u ti o n s % o f ad u lt s N O T co rr ec tl y an sw er in g in te re st q u es ti o n Interest question not correct Borrowing from formal financial institutions Ar ge nt in a Au st ra lia Br az il Ca na da Ch in a Fr an ce Ge rm an y In di a In do ne sia Ita ly Ja pa n Ko re a, R ep . M ex ico Ru ss ia n Fe de ra tio n Sa ud i A ra bi a So ut h Af ric a Tu rk ey Un ite d Ki ng do m Un ite d St at es The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 16 Moreover, the OECD’s 2012 and 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) financial literacy data confirms the low levels of financial literacy in Italy.4 Further, Italy is the only country which exhibits a difference in financial literacy between boys and girls (Figure 19). Thus, the gender gap in Italy also exists among the very young (15-year-olds). The study by Bottazzi and Lusardi (2016) uses the PISA data to analyze factors that affect boys’ and girls’ financial literacy in Italy. The paper documents the impact of the family, in particular the mother, on the financial knowledge of girls. Thus, given the low levels of financial literacy among Italian adults, with no interventions, gender differences in financial literacy may persist for a long time. Figure 19: PISA 2015 financial literacy score-point differences between boys and girls Source: OECD 2015 PISA Financial Literacy Assessment data. Conclusion Financial literacy is a skill that is essential if one is to participate in today’s economy. Wide-ranging developments in the financial marketplace have contributed to growing concerns about the level of financial literacy of citizens of many countries. Through analysis of the S&P Global FinLit Survey, the most comprehensive global data set on financial literacy to date, we find that financial illiteracy is widespread, but it is particularly pronounced among women. Worldwide, just one in three adults show an understanding of basic financial concepts, making it clear that billions of people are unprepared to deal with rapid changes in the financial landscape. This is worrisome in itself. However, further concern is raised with the finding of robust evidence of a gender gap in financial literacy around the world. The gap in financial literacy between men and women exists across countries with different financial market development and institutional setups as well as different social and cultural contexts. Moreover, it is independent of a country’s income level. 4 In 2012, PISA introduced the first optional financial literacy assessment, which measures the proficiency of 15-year-olds in demonstrating and applying financial knowledge and skills. A sample of students were selected from the same schools that completed PISA’s core assess- ments in mathematics, reading, and science. -30 -25 -20 -15 -10 -5 0 5 10 15 Li th ua ni a Sl ov ak R ep ub lic Po la nd Au st ra lia Sp ai n Br az il OE CD a ve ra ge -1 0 Ne th er la nd s Ca na di an p ro vi nc es Pe ru Ru ss ia Be lg iu m (F le m ish ) Un ite d St at es Ch ile B- S- J-G (C hi na ) Ita ly GIRLS PERFORM BETTER BOYS PERFORM BETTER Sc o re -p o in t d iff er en ce The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 17 Furthermore, the gender gap in financial literacy is evident when using a large set of questions that assess understanding of both simple and complex financial concepts among Dutch, American, and German respondents (van Rooij et al., 2011; Bucher-Koenen, 2011; Lusardi and Mitchell, 2017b). Moreover, gender differences are hard to explain. The paper by Bucher-Koenen et al. (2016), for example, concludes that there is no single explanation that can satisfactorily address the differences in financial literacy levels between women and men. Low levels of financial knowledge have far-reaching consequences, because financial literacy can be linked to important financial decisions. Moreover, women face unique financial challenges due to lower income during their working lives, interrupted employment histories, and longer life expectancies than men. Thus, improving women’s financial literacy is key to promoting their financial security. Not only do women answer fewer financial literacy questions correctly but they are also more likely to state that they do not know the answer to these questions. Many women recognize their lack of knowledge in financial matters (Bucher-Koenen et al., 2016). This awareness makes them an ideal target for financial education programs. Research has shown that financial education programs seem to be particularly successful for women (Clark et al., 2006). To build financial knowledge in the population at large and among women, specifically, will require financial education. Financial education in schools can advance financial capability among the young. Making personal finance a required course at colleges and universities would equip the young with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in today’s financial environment. Recent research conducted by Kaiser and Menkoff (2016) shows that financial education has a significant positive impact on financial literacy and financial behavior. Another possible channel for increasing financial literacy is employer-provided financial education. A study by Lusardi (2004) discusses the impact of interactive seminar-based formats and provides evidence that retirement seminars can foster wealth accumulation and bolster financial security in retirement. Research by Loibl and Hira (2006) shows that employer-provided self-directed learning sources can provide an alternative way for employees to stay current in an environment of constantly changing financial information. In view of the different financial challenges women need to address, an effective way forward for financial education programs is to target women and men separately and to offer programs that recognize the differences between women and men in terms of financial knowledge, financial behavior, and financial needs. The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 18 APPENDIX Financial Literacy: An Economy-by-Economy Breakdown Economy Financially Literate Adults (%) Economy Financially Literate Adults (%) Economy Financially Literate Adults (%) Economy Financially Literate Adults (%) Afghanistan 14 Côte d’Ivoire 35 Kyrgyz Republic 19 Saudi Arabia 31 Albania 14 Denmark 71 Latvia 48 Senegal 40 Algeria 33 Dominican Republic 35 Lebanon 44 Serbia 38 Angola 15 Ecuador 30 Lithuania 39 Sierra Leone 21 Argentina 28 Egypt, Arab Rep. 27 Luxembourg 53 Singapore 59 Armenia 18 El Salvador 21 Macedonia, FYR 21 Slovak Republic 48 Australia 64 Estonia 54 Madagascar 38 Slovenia 44 Austria 53 Ethiopia 32 Malawi 35 Somalia 15 Azerbaijan 36 Finland 63 Malaysia 36 South Africa 42 Bahrain 40 France 52 Mali 33 Spain 49 Bangladesh 19 Gabon 35 Malta 44 Sri Lanka 35 Belarus 38 Georgia 30 Mauritania 33 Sudan 21 Belgium 55 Germany 66 Mauritius 39 Sweden 71 Belize 33 Ghana 32 Mexico 32 Switzerland 57 Benin 37 Greece 45 Moldova 27 Taiwan, China 37 Bhutan 54 Guatemala 26 Mongolia 41 Tajikistan 17 Bolivia 24 Guinea 30 Montenegro 48 Tanzania 40 Bosnia and Herzegovina 27 Haiti 18 Myanmar 52 Thailand 27 Botswana 52 Honduras 23 Namibia 27 Togo 38 Brazil 35 Hong Kong SAR, China 43 Nepal 18 Tunisia 45 Bulgaria 35 Hungary 54 Netherlands 66 Turkey 24 Burkina Faso 33 India 24 New Zealand 61 Turkmenistan 41 Burundi 24 Indonesia 32 Nicaragua 20 Uganda 34 Cambodia 18 Iran, Islamic Rep. 20 Niger 31 Ukraine 40 Cameroon 38 Iraq 27 Nigeria 26 United Arab Emirates 38 Canada 68 Ireland 55 Norway 71 United Kingdom 67 Chad 26 Israel 68 Pakistan 26 United States 57 Chile 41 Italy 37 Panama 27 Uruguay 45 China 28 Jamaica 33 Peru 28 Uzbekistan 21 Colombia 32 Japan 43 Philippines 25 Venezuela, RB 25 Congo, Dem. Rep. 32 Jordan 24 Poland 42 Vietnam 24 Congo, Rep. 31 Kazakhstan 40 Portugal 26 West Bank and Gaza 25 Costa Rica 35 Kenya 38 Puerto Rico 32 Yemen, Rep. 13 Croatia 44 Korea, Rep. 33 Romania 22 Zambia 40 Cyprus 35 Kosovo 20 Russian Federation 38 Zimbabwe 41 Czech Republic 58 Kuwait 44 Rwanda 26 Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey. The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 19 Financial Literacy Among Women: An Economy-by-Economy Breakdown Economy Financially Literate Women (%) Economy Financially Literate Women (%) Economy Financially Literate Women (%) Economy Financially Literate Women (%) Afghanistan 9 Côte d’Ivoire 31 Kyrgyz Republic 18 Saudi Arabia 28 Albania 12 Denmark 67 Latvia 44 Senegal 37 Algeria 28 Dominican Republic 35 Lebanon 39 Serbia 34 Angola 10 Ecuador 29 Lithuania 36 Sierra Leone 18 Argentina 24 Egypt, Arab Rep. 25 Luxembourg 46 Singapore 52 Armenia 16 El Salvador 18 Macedonia, FYR 17 Slovak Republic 47 Australia 56 Estonia 54 Madagascar 34 Slovenia 39 Austria 51 Ethiopia 30 Malawi 33 Somalia 15 Azerbaijan 26 Finland 58 Malaysia 33 South Africa 43 Bahrain 36 France 48 Mali 34 Spain 48 Bangladesh 14 Gabon 34 Malta 40 Sri Lanka 33 Belarus 34 Georgia 25 Mauritania 29 Sudan 20 Belgium 52 Germany 60 Mauritius 38 Sweden 70 Belize 34 Ghana 30 Mexico 34 Switzerland 53 Benin 32 Greece 42 Moldova 25 Taiwan, China 34 Bhutan 55 Guatemala 20 Mongolia 38 Tajikistan 16 Bolivia 21 Guinea 26 Montenegro 48 Tanzania 36 Bosnia and Herzegovina 24 Haiti 19 Myanmar 47 Thailand 26 Botswana 50 Honduras 20 Namibia 24 Togo 34 Brazil 29 Hong Kong SAR, China 37 Nepal 11 Tunisia 38 Bulgaria 31 Hungary 55 Netherlands 58 Turkey 19 Burkina Faso 29 India 20 New Zealand 57 Turkmenistan 42 Burundi 25 Indonesia 25 Nicaragua 16 Uganda 33 Cambodia 16 Iran, Islamic Rep. 18 Niger 27 Ukraine 35 Cameroon 34 Iraq 25 Nigeria 24 United Arab Emirates 41 Canada 60 Ireland 52 Norway 68 United Kingdom 68 Chad 24 Israel 64 Pakistan 21 United States 52 Chile 39 Italy 30 Panama 25 Uruguay 41 China 27 Jamaica 26 Peru 25 Uzbekistan 20 Colombia 29 Japan 44 Philippines 26 Venezuela, RB 21 Congo, Dem. Rep. 28 Jordan 22 Poland 36 Vietnam 21 Congo, Rep. 26 Kazakhstan 40 Portugal 23 West Bank and Gaza 21 Costa Rica 30 Kenya 36 Puerto Rico 28 Yemen, Rep. 8 Croatia 44 Korea, Rep. 30 Romania 22 Zambia 38 Cyprus 31 Kosovo 17 Russian Federation 35 Zimbabwe 36 Czech Republic 53 Kuwait 40 Rwanda 22 Source: S&P Global FinLit Survey. The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 20 Survey methodology Surveys are conducted face-to-face in economies where telephone coverage represents less than 80 percent of the population or is the customary methodology. In most economies the fieldwork is completed in two to four weeks. In economies where face-to-face surveys are conducted, the first stage of sampling is the identification of primary sampling units. These units are stratified by population size, geography, or both, and clustering is achieved through one or more stages of sampling. Where population information is available, sample selection is based on probabilities proportional to population size. Otherwise, simple random sampling is used. Random route procedures are used to select sampled households. Unless an outright refusal occurs, interviewers make up to three attempts to survey the sampled household. To increase the probability of contact and completion, attempts are made at different times of the day and, where possible, on different days. If an interview cannot be obtained at the initial sampled household, a simple substitution method is used. Respondents are randomly selected within the selected households by means of the Kish grid. In economies where cultural restrictions dictate gender matching, respondents are randomly selected through the Kish grid from among all eligible adults of the interviewer’s gender. In economies where telephone interviewing is employed, random digit dialing or a nationally representative list of phone numbers is used. In most economies where cell phone penetration is high, a dual sampling frame is used. Random selection of respondents is achieved by using either the latest birthday or Kish grid method. At least three attempts are made to reach a person in each household, spread over different days and times of day. Data weighting is used to ensure a nationally representative sample for each economy. Final weights consist of the base sampling weight, which corrects for unequal probability of selection based on household size, and the post-stratification weight, which corrects for sampling and nonresponse error. Post-stratification weights use economy-level population statistics on gender and age and, where reliable data are available, education or socioeconomic status. More information on the data collection period, number of interviews, approximate design effect, and margin of error, as well as sampling details for each economy, can be found in Demirguc-Kunt et al. (2015). The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 21 References Bottazzi, Laura, and Annamaria Lusardi. 2016. “Gender Difference in Financial Literacy: Evidence from PISA Data in Italy.” https://institute.eib.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/gender-diff . Bucher-Koenen, Tabea. 2011. “Financial Literacy, Riester Pensions, and Other Private Old Age Provision in Germany.” Max-Planck-Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, MEA Discussion Paper 250-11 1-35. Bucher-Koenen, Tabea, Annamaria Lusardi, Rob Alessie, and Maarten Van Rooij. 2016. “How Financially Literate Are Women? An Overview and New Insights.” The Journal of Consumer Affairs 1-29. Clark, Robert L., Madeleine B. D’Ambrosio, Ann A. McDermed, and Kshama Sawant. 2006. “Retirement Plans and Saving Decisions: The Role of Information and Education.” Journal of Pension Economics and Finance 5 (1): 45-67. Demirguc-Kunt, Asli, Leora Klapper, Dorothe Singer, and Peter Van Oudheusden. 2015. “The Global Findex Database 2014: Measuring Financial Inclusion around the World.” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 7255. Fonseca, Raquel, Kathleen J. Mullen, Gema Zamarro, and Julie Zissimopoulos. 2012. “What Explains the Gender Gap in Financial Literacy? The Role of Household Decision Making.” Journal of Consumer Affairs 46 (1): 90-106. Kaiser, Tim, and Lukas Menkoff. 2016. “Does Financial Education Impact Financial Behavior, and if So, When?” German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) Discussion Paper 1562. Klapper, Leora, Annamaria Lusardi, and Peter van Oudheusden. 2015. “Financial Literacy Around the World: Insights from the Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey.” http://gflec.org/ wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Finlit_paper_16_F2_singles . Loibl, Cäzilia, and Tahira K. Hira. 2006. “A Workplace and Gender-related Perspective on Financial Planning Information Sources and Knowledge Outcomes.” Financial Services Review 15 (1): 21-42. Lusardi, Annamaria. 2004. “Saving and the Effectiveness of Financial Education.” in Olivia S. Mitchell and Stephen Utkus (eds.), Pension Design and Structure: New Lessons from Behavioral Finance, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 157-184 Lusardi, Annamaria, and Carlo de Bassa Scheresberg. 2013. “Financial Literacy and High-Cost Borrowing in the United States.” Working Paper 18969, Cambridge, MA: NBER. Lusardi, Annamaria, and Olivia S. Mitchell. 2008. “Planning and Financial Literacy: How Do Women Fare?” American Economic Review 98 (2): 413-417. Lusardi, Annamaria, and Olivia S. Mitchell. 2014. “The Economic Importance of Financial Literacy: Theory and Evidence.” Journal of Economic Literature 52 (1): 5-44. The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective | 22 Lusardi, Annamaria, and Olivia S. 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Articles/Hendricks, 2019, The role of financial inclusion in driving women s economic empowerment Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=cdip20 Development in Practice ISSN: 0961-4524 (Print) 1364-9213 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cdip20 The role of financial inclusion in driving women’s economic empowerment Sarah Hendriks To cite this article: Sarah Hendriks (2019) The role of financial inclusion in driving women’s economic empowerment, Development in Practice, 29:8, 1029-1038, DOI: 10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308 © 2019 Bill and Miranda Gates Foundation. Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group Published online: 05 Nov 2019. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 13774 View related articles View Crossmark data Citing articles: 14 View citing articles https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=cdip20 https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cdip20 https://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308 https://doi.org/10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308 https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=cdip20&show=instructions https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=cdip20&show=instructions https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/mlt/10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/mlt/10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308 http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2019-11-05 http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2019-11-05 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308#tabModule https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308#tabModule The role of financial inclusion in driving women’s economic empowerment Sarah Hendriks ABSTRACT This article highlights why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has focused on financial inclusion to advance women’s economic empowerment and drive progress on gender equality. It highlights key lessons from financial inclusion-related projects the foundation has supported within the “Putting Women and Girls at the Center of Development (WGCD) Grand Challenge” in 2015. The article also shares the logic and research informing the foundation’s strategy to close the gender gap in financial inclusion – a key pillar of its strategy on women’s economic empowerment – and improve the lives and livelihoods of millions of women around the world. ARTICLE HISTORY Received 10 May 2019 Accepted 22 August 2019 KEYWORDS Gender and diversity; Labour and livelihoods – poverty reduction; Microfinance; Technology – ICT Introduction A wide body of research has shown that poverty and inequality are deeply intertwined1. Women and girls still earn less, learn less, own less, and wield much less economic power than their brothers and husbands. This leads to negative consequences that affect women’s health, schooling, job prospects, and even the control women have – or lack – over their own lives and choices. However, we are witnessing critical momentum to achieve gender equality: 193 nations com- mitted to ending gender inequality by 2030 through the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 5, which is focused on ending gender inequality. Women are also raising their voices to chal- lenge the systems and structures that impede them, building on the earlier milestones of the Con- vention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1979, and the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995. To capitalise on this momentum, we need evidence-based solutions that can catalyse women’s mobility from poverty. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to advancing equality in the world, by investing in research, advocacy and programmes that can dismantle the barriers women and girls face to leading both healthy and productive lives. We believe that the barriers that perpetuate inequality must be removed, so that women and girls have an equal opportunity to earn a fair income, control their own economic resources, and dictate the course of their own lives. This article highlights why the Gates Foundation has focused on financial inclusion to advance women’s economic empowerment and drive progress on gender equality. Within financial inclusion, we are particularly focused on the potential for digital financial services to link women to markets, raise incomes, reduce poverty and facilitate women’s greater control over their earnings and savings, all critical elements of women’s economic empowerment. This article aims to highlight key lessons from financial inclusion-related projects the foundation has supported within the “Putting Women and Girls at the Center of Development (WGCD) Grand Challenge” in 2015. Further- more, it shares the logic and research informing our strategy to close the gender gap in financial © 2019 Bill and Miranda Gates Foundation. Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. CONTACT Sarah Hendriks info@gatesfoundation.org DEVELOPMENT IN PRACTICE 2019, VOL. 29, NO. 8, 1029–1038 https://doi.org/10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308 http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1080/09614524.2019.1660308&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2020-01-08 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ mailto:info@gatesfoundation.org http://www.tandfonline.com inclusion – a key pillar of our strategy on women’s economic empowerment – and improve the lives and livelihoods of millions of women around the world. Why financial inclusion matters for women Being financially included can have transformative effects for women. When women actively partici- pate in the financial system, they can better manage risk, smooth consumption in the face of shocks, or fund household expenditures like education (Dupas and Robinson 2013). Providing low-income women with the right financial tools to save and borrow money, make and receive payments, and manage risk is important for women’s empowerment, but also for poverty reduction, especially since women disproportionately experience poverty (Holloway, Niazi, and Rouse 2017). A growing body of rigorous RCTs shows consistently positive impacts for women from interven- tions to increase personal savings (Klapper 2015). Women’s access to individual secure (private) savings accounts can foster economic resilience and increase control over financial resources for women, including those with less household decision-making power (Karlan et al. 2016). For example: . Financial tools can empower women within households to make decisions and gain greater control over resource allocation (Karlan et al. 2016). Studies have shown that women’s access to individual private savings accounts not only fosters economic resilience by increasing women’s savings, but also enables women to make financial choices, buy more durable goods, and increased women’s bargaining power in the household (Dupas and Robinson 2013). In the Philip- pines, the opening of a goal-based commitment account increased savings by 81% and resulted in greater bargaining power for women within the household, increased expenditure on female- oriented consumer durables, and were particularly attractive to less empowered women (Ashraf et al. 2006). . Women’s financial inclusion can result in better outcomes for children, household nutrition, and the wider community. Delivering cash transfers targeted to women digitally through mobile money improved dietary diversity compared to traditional cash delivery and girls living in poor households with female pension recipients demonstrated better nutrition than those with just male recipients (Duflo 2003). In Nepal, easily accessible, no-fee savings accounts were offered to female heads of households living in slums and resulted in an uptake of 84% of women opening an account, which boosted spending on education and nutritious foods. Compared to those without accounts, women also had increased health-related expenditures, enabling house- holds to better respond to health emergencies (Prina 2015). Mobile money has the potential to include last-mile populations, expand poor households’ occupational choices and enable women to have greater mobility from poverty. In Kenya, the impact of the introduction of mobile money in moving households out of poverty was particularly pronounced for female- headed households (Suri and Jack 2016). We are encouraged by the evidence demonstrating that providing low-income women with the right financial tools to save and borrow money, make and receive payments, and manage risk is a critical factor to support women’s empowerment (Holloway, Niazi, and Rouse 2017). Women and Girls at the Center of Development Grand Challenge In 2014, Melinda Gates published a commentary in Science that highlighted the need to move beyond targeting women and girls as beneficiaries of development programmes and to recognise their role as agents of change (Gates 2014). She also challenged the Gates Foundation to not use the complexity of resolving gender inequality as an excuse for failing to think and act more intention- ally about putting women and girls at the centre of what we do. The commentary articulated a need for us to get smarter, to be more systematic, and to demonstrate the results that can be achieved 1030 S. HENDRIKS from taking a gender intentional approach. Evidence shows that gender discrimination and inequal- ity are key factors limiting advances in human health and development outcomes for all – women, men, boys, and girls. Following this discussion, the Gates Foundation launched a Grand Challenge on Putting Women and Girls at the Center of Development. This was an unprecedented effort across the foundation’s programme teams to generate learning and evidence that will benefit the field on how to unlock and drive the empowerment of women and girls. This Grand Challenge linked being more “gender intentional” with better outcomes across development work. It sought to build on existing promising approaches but recognised that we need a lot more out-of-the-box thinking and, certainly, more rigour and creativity. Essentially, it sought to advance new research on questions that needed to be asked, and on solutions that haven’t yet been tried. A focus on rigorous measurement was a cornerstone of these efforts. The Challenge garnered substantive engagement from expert organisations across the world and resulted in a portfolio of projects with partners, including those which focused on women’s financial inclusion. That is why the bulk of the article in this Development in Practice feature present findings from work funded under the Gates Foundation’s Women and Girls at the Center of Development Grand Challenge, with a focus on research-led projects on financial inclusion. The insights and data from these projects can help us all to better understand the gendered barriers to financial inclusion and identify solutions that support gender equitable economic outcomes at scale. Reaching last-mile populations through digital financial services In the first article, Tiwari, Schaub and Sultana focus on women in the arid lands of East Africa. BOMA uses a graduation model intervention that develops livelihoods skills and activities, builds savings and provides sustainable pathways out of extreme poverty. BOMA’s Rural Entrepreneur Access Project (REAP) seeks to empower extremely poor pastoral women in northern Kenya, who also rep- resent the last mile of financial inclusion. Qualitative and quantitative analyses suggest that women involved in REAP expanded their savings and expenditures, improved nutrition for themselves and their children, and increased their decision-making power about the use of family and personal income. However, BOMA’s experience also underlines that low literacy, numeracy, and familiarity with mobile technology can be binding constraints that limit women’s ability to effectively use digital financial products. Evaluation of BOMA’s digital finance platform, M-Chama, revealed that uptake and use patterns were affected by illiteracy and user preferences. While use of M-Pesa for personal transactions between family and friends was high, digital business transactions were uncommon. Users depended on others (family members, project facilitators, community leaders) for support in using the complex M-Chama platform. BOMA also observed that digital savings did not replace savings in the form of cash and livestock, suggesting that women’s preferences for digital financial products may complement, rather than replace, traditional financial practices for ultra- poor women. The BOMA experiences suggests that women may continue to experience limits to full control over their spending unless basic skills are developed in tandem with financial products that reflect women’s preferences. We know from other research that men and women use different financial pro- ducts to address similar use cases. Addressing these structural barriers through better service design, consumer responsiveness, and complementary programming will be key to ensuring that ultra-poor women and girls from marginalised communities are able to be fully financially included. Further research is warranted to understand the product features that can contribute to changes in margin- alised women’s financial behaviours, and which can increase greater control for women over income and assets. Specifically, there are unanswered research questions, for example, on the product design features that could maximise women’s control and privacy, or the design changes to existing financial products that could increase profitability for women-owned enterprises. DEVELOPMENT IN PRACTICE 1031 Similarly, the article by Hudson Matthews elucidates the challenges faced by last mile populations, specifically populations that largely rely on spoken communications. Matthews points to the impor- tance of bringing an intentional focus on such communities who have, to date, been left out of the digital revolution. The paper highlights the benefits of formal financial inclusion and what can be done to modify existing approaches to digital financial services to meet the needs of such last mile populations. As Matthews underscores: People can “leapfrog” over a cash economy they have not yet really entered, into a digital one. But this will only take place if they feel safe there; the digital economy must communicate in their language – and financial inclusion is on the front lines of this encounter. This article suggests that human-centred design approaches can be used to improve the relevance and utility of digital technology for non-literate populations. Increasing usage: tailoring financial products to women’s preferences and needs The article by Eckhoff, Miruka, Natakunda and Pennotti documents CARE’s implementation experi- ence from two projects that address the social norms that circumscribe women’s use of financial pro- ducts, services, and technologies. The first was the LINK Up project, where CARE worked with leading banks in Kenya and Tanzania to deploy financial products tailored to the needs of informal savings groups and their members. The second is the Digital Sub-Wallets project in Uganda where CARE part- nered with a bank and community-based organisations to develop a tailored digital product to meet the financial needs of women while engaging participating households in dialogue to transform gender norms. Both projects suggest that the context of social norms that shape women’s lives and responsibil- ities is an important linkage to ensuring that financial products and institutions are beneficial to women. For many women, access to a personal bank account provided the privacy they need to maintain control over their earned and saved income. But it left unchanged women’s concern that they could lose control over their income if their spouses knew about the funds. The CARE article highlights how financial products that enable greater privacy are particularly important for women who, due to unequal gender norms and power relations within a household, may be compelled to keep their income a secret. These findings reflect other studies on women’s preference for illiquidity as a mechanism to help them shield money from intra-or inter-household demands. Products designed to restrict access and reduce the liquidity of savings can help individuals subject to high social demands save more. Product tests in Malawi (Brune et al. 2015) or Kenya (Dupas and Robinson 2013) suggest that illiquid accounts with significant withdrawal costs or linked to a specific commitment can be effective in encouraging savings for clients facing significant demands on their income from outside the house- hold. In contrast, products without such commitment devices can lead to decreased usage, as the additional liquidity that they provide may reduce women’s control over the account. For example, a study in Kenya found that offering free ATM cards, which increased account accessibility and reduced withdrawal fees, caused individuals with a stronger position in the household (majority men) to significantly increase usage of the accounts while individuals with low household bargaining power (majority female), reduced account usage (Schaner 2016). Another key lesson from CARE’s research in the Link Up project highlighted that digital chan- nels can be challenging for women involved in savings groups in resource-poor contexts. The authors report that despite awareness of mobile banking and its benefits, many savings groups continued to choose brick and mortar outlets over mobile. There were several reasons for this: fear of making mistakes; perceived high fee rates in the mobile system; insufficient knowledge of how to use mobile banking; frequent network failure or system difficulties with mobile agents; and the preference to use paper receipts for group records. Some of these factors – such as network reliability and product fees – were challenging to overcome. Other 1032 S. HENDRIKS constraints could be dealt with by better familiarising savings group members to understand how the financial product functioned. Building on this knowledge, CARE used household dialogue sessions to support the improved use of digital savings and payments mechanisms by women in the project on digital sub-wallets for women in rural Uganda. In a rigorous trial of the intervention, preliminary results suggest that women in households participating in the dialogue sessions have much greater control over their savings and that decision-making is more equitable. “During field visits, participants engaged in the household dialogue sessions in particular are sharing experiences of significant change in the relationships, decision-making processes, and financial health within their homes” (Eckhoff et al. in this issue). Enhancing women’s access to formal financial services through government-to- people (G2P) Sabherwal, Trivedi and Sharma focus on how government-to-people (G2)P transfers can increase women’s access to and control over their own wages, in the case of the direct benefit transfers to women working in the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) in India. The project, funded by the foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor team, provides women access to bank accounts and ensures that their payments from the MNREGS workfare programme go directly into those accounts. One goal is to reduce payment delays by providing officials with easily accessible and actionable information. Another is to demonstrate the impact of delivering information on bank transactions via simple and understandable interactive voice response (IVR) calls to account holders. The IVR calls are intended to alert women about funds availability and to enable them to increase their access to and control over the earnings. The article discusses the con- straints that lead to bank account dormancy for women and propose potential interventions to ensure technology, payment systems and service delivery are designed with women’s interests in mind. Transforming the way women participate in economies On the heels of these Grand Challenges projects, in 2017 the Gates Foundation began a deep, evi- dence-driven process to develop a strategy dedicated to advancing gender equality outcomes at scale. While this is our first gender equality strategy, we were not starting from scratch. Gender has always been at the heart of our foundation’s work – from maternal and child health to nutrition to family planning. To build on this, we developed a new strategy that articulates how we will system- atically tackle the barriers that women and girls face. Fundamentally, we believe that taking charge of your economic future is one of the most profound ways to exercise power over your life. That’s why our gender equality strategy is devoted specifically to transforming the way women participate in economies. The strategy was informed by a series of consultations and literature reviews on gender equality and analysis of data from our own investment portfolio. Through this rigorous process, we came to recognise that women’s economic empowerment is a powerful lever for change, which can drive gender equality outcomes and broader intergenerational benefits for women, their children, and households. Our understanding of women’s economic empowerment was informed by an important and evol- ving body of literature and practitioner learning (Sen 1990; Kabeer 1999; Golla et al. 2011). Building from this, we developed a set of core beliefs that formed the theoretical underpinnings of our strat- egy. We believe that: . Gender equality and human development are inter-related: Improved gender equality is associated with higher levels of human development and faster economic growth. For example, DEVELOPMENT IN PRACTICE 1033 the World Bank estimates that one-third of the decline in poverty and inequality in Latin America during the 1990s and early 2000s was due to increased female labour force partici- pation (World Bank 2012). Women’s economic empowerment is a pre-requisite for inclusive economic growth. . Poverty and inequality are also inter-related: Women and girls face differential barriers because of the ways that poverty and inequality are deeply inter-twined. This interconnection is evident across multiple levels in terms of: how women in low-income households’ experience poverty; the way that power is brokered in communities; the entrenched biases in systems and structures that can exclude women (e.g. economic, agricultural, financial or market systems). . Economic growth does not always “lift all boats”: We know that as low-income countries make strides towards greater health and productivity, poor women and girls do not always benefit from the rising tide of human and economic development (Duflo 2012; Kabeer 2016). Economies are not automatically inclusive. When left unchecked, the market forces driving economic growth will not necessarily expand decent economic opportunities for women. We need deliberate tactics to ensure women aren’t left behind relative to their male peers. . Economic losses are not distributed gender equitably: When poor households must adjust to micro-economic shocks or periods of economic fragility (such as lower household income or diminished purchasing power), it is women and girls who disproportionately absorb the conse- quences in ways that have far-reaching effects on their lives and futures (such as being pulled from school or lowering daily caloric intake). Policies and programmes must anticipate periods of amplified vulnerability that can set back women’s economic progress (Sabarawal, Sinha, and Buvinic 2011). Women and girls often suffer first, worst and recover last from micro- and macro-economic shocks, and have less support to build resilience, smooth household consump- tion, or buffer against risks. . Women and girls are economic actors: The economic activity of women and girls often goes unrecognised. A growing body of research documents the many ways that women are actively engaged as economic actors across value chains: as producers, consumers, business owners, or community members who influence markets and policy (UNHLP 2016). . Women’s agency and collective action is as essential as economic advancement: It is not just the objective dimensions of economic empowerment that matter, such as productivity or income. Agency (the capacity to make decisions and take purposeful action) is essential and does not necessarily follow on from increases in income or assets alone. It is critical to ensure that women have the self-reliance to take economic risks, define their economic future, and have sufficient bargaining power in the household. Collective action, the power of women coming together in solidarity to exercise their collective voice, is a powerful tool for social transformation and fundamental enabler of women’s economic rights. . Systems have entrenched biases that exclude women: Women face barriers to accessing pro- ductive and economic resources because of the entrenched biases in financial, market, agricultural and legal systems. For example, women engage with formal financial institutions less and rep- resent more of the world’s unbanked population. Female entrepreneurs face unique barriers to securing capital or resources, often relegating them to smaller, home-based enterprises in low- growth sectors. Discrimination in law or policy can make it harder for women to own land or prop- erty, sign a contract, open a bank account or formally register a business (Women, Business and the Law Report 2018). These core beliefs led us to the thesis that guides our strategy on women’s economic empow- erment: women who are economically empowered tend to have greater access to income and assets, better control over their own economic gains, and more equitable decision-making power to translate these gains into social, economic, and health benefits for themselves and their families. 1034 S. HENDRIKS The foundation’s approach to increase women’s economic empowerment through digital financial services One of the central levers in our strategy is focused on ensuring women have more access to and use of digital financial services, such as mobile bank accounts and digital payment systems, so that they can make their own decisions about spending, saving, taking financial risks, and building their own financial futures. Explicitly, the core objective of this work is to close the persistent gender gap in financial inclusion, with a focus on low-income women. The latest World Bank Global Findex data confirmed that while account ownership has increased overall, gender gaps are not narrowing and remain unchanged over the past six years. Although we have seen good progress on financial inclusion, women remain less likely than men to have an account. In developing economies, the gender gap is 9 percentage points on average (67% of men and 59% of women), which has remained virtually unchanged since 2011. This doesn’t mean that women aren’t making gains; we have seen progress in the absolute number of banked women. For example, in a few developing economies such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Argen- tina, women are now more likely than men to have an account. However, in some countries, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria, the gender gap in account ownership actually increased over the past three years. Although there were over 1.3 million newly banked women in Pakistan, the gender gap in account ownership increased from 16 to 28 percen- tage points. Similarly, while there was good progress for over 6.7 million newly banked women in Bangladesh, the gender gap increased to 29 percentage points (from a 9-percentage point gap in 2014). Women had made progress during this period, but not as much progress as men. This matters not just for women; the bank ownership rate can bring down the national average signifi- cantly: Pakistan would achieve far more than 21% access nationally if more than 7% of its women were banked. We believe that mobile money can reduce gender inequality in financial inclusion. We’ve seen that where there is high mobile ownership, such as in sub-Saharan African economics, the gender differ- ences are narrower.. For example, in Kenya, men are 18 percentage points more likely than women to have a traditional bank account – but more women than men have only a mobile money account (World Bank 2018). Deliberate efforts are required to close the gender gap in digital financial services (DFS) More deliberate efforts are needed to close the gender gap and realise the potential gains of financial inclusion. As a first pathway to accelerating closure of the gender gap, we see promise in digitising social safety net programmes to increase the value of DFS for women – especially poor women – and to encourage more women into adopting and using DFS. Our hypothesis is that digitising a predict- able income stream for women is a way to rapidly close the gender gap in digital financial inclusion, and a potentially powerful platform to catalyse the economic empowerment of women. To target and reach low-income women, we have hypothesised digitising already-established Gov- ernment-to-People (G2P) social safety net cash transfer programme as a lever that will increase the value of DFS for poor women – and encourage more women into adopting and using DFS. Interestingly, of the adults in developing economies who received government transfers digitally, 36% opened their first account specifically for that purpose (Klapper and Hess 2016). We have based this hypothesis on country exemplars in Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Mongolia and Iran, where moving routine cash trans- actions into digital accounts has proven to increase female account ownership. Across these exemplars, G2P payments are an entry point for women to engage in broader financial services. For example, in Mexico, 14% of banked women opened their first account to receive a government transfer payment. In Brazil, 16% of banked women, compared to 7% of banked men, opened their first account to receive an electronic government transfer, and 88% of DEVELOPMENT IN PRACTICE 1035 government transfer recipients receive their payment into a digital account (World Bank 2018). This is on par with the share of adults in high-income countries such as Germany. This suggests that G2P social protection payments can be leveraged to have outsized effects on women’s financial inclusion. In Brazil, for example, 20% of women and 10% of men receive government transfer payments. Additionally, for many women in these countries, this digital account is an entry point for them to engage in deeper usage of financial services. Examples include: . In Brazil: One-third of women who receive government payments into an account also receive wages into an account. In addition, one in five of such recipients also use their account to pay utility bills, a quarter use their accounts to formally borrow, and 12% use their account to formally save. . In Iran: One quarter of women who receive government payments into an account, the same as the share of men, use a mobile money service. More than 50% of women who receive such digital payments use a debit card, 37% use the internet to make purchases or to pay bills, 20% also use their account to save formally, and 38% use their account to borrow formally (same as the share for men). . In Mexico: About one in four women who use their accounts to receive government payments, save formally, or borrow formally. An estimated 24% of these women use a debit card, and 23% receive wages using the same account. Building from these exemplars, and focusing on where there is potential for impact, we are part- nering with governments in three countries to design and digitise social payments to go directly to women’s bank accounts. Specifically, we are working in the context of major social safety net pro- grammes in Pakistan (BISP Programme), Tanzania (PSSNII), and India (NREGA in Bihar). Conclusion We have based our approach on a body of evidence that tells us how digital financial services can lead to women’s economic empowerment and have broader, positive effects. In Kenya, mobile money lifted female headed households out of poverty (Suri and Jack 2016). In Niger, funnelling cash transfer payments to mobile accounts helped decrease costs of accessing the money, while improving women’s bargaining power and household consumption outcomes (Aker et al. 2016). In India, channelling workfare payments to women’s own bank accounts (instead of their husbands’ accounts) increased women’s engagement in the labour market (Field et al. 2016). Based on this evi- dence, we have developed an approach known as “D3”: digitising social protection programmes, directing payments into women’s accounts, and designing the programme so that they expand women’s economic opportunities. Specifically, the D3 diagnostic tool enables a more targeted approach to financial inclusion work through criteria that focuses on: (1) Digitise: reliability, accessibility and accountability of digital payments. (2) Direct: the principle of “one woman, one account” and her control over funds. (3) Design: coverage and targeting, complementary services and mitigating adverse effects. We believe that this approach can empower millions of women to not just open their own bank accounts, but also to decide how to spend their money and control their financial futures. These cases suggest that the digitisation of G2P transfer payments can be a powerful accelerant to draw women into DFS, overcoming the supply-and-demand side barriers women face, and helping them to move into account ownership and usage at scale. Yet we know that digitising G2P alone may not be successful if we do not also recognise and address barriers facing women in adoption and usage of DFS (Field et al. 2016). These barriers include low intra-household bargaining power, social norms that dictate women’s earnings are at the command of male family members, and 1036 S. HENDRIKS gendered mobility restrictions that can reduce women’s ability to access financial services and mobile money agents (Duflo 2012; Doss 2013). Our review of the literature and of our foundation-wide investments in gender equality under- score that supporting women’s meaningful financial inclusion is a key building block for women’s economic empowerment and inclusive growth. G2P transfers present an important opportunity to include women in financial markets and services and to reach women at scale with direct-to-consu- mer, gender-intentional digital accounts. By focusing on expanding women’s access to and use of digital financial services, we’re making sure that women have access to and control over their own money, which are critical to women’s economic empowerment and making sure women have the tools and resources to lift themselves – and their communities – out of poverty. Notes 1. There is a long-standing literature looking at the impacts of various aspects of gender inequality and economic growth. Various studies found negative effects of gender inequality in education on economic growth (e.g. Dollar and Gatti 1999; Klasen 1999; Klasen and Lamanna 2009; Seguino 2010), as well as correlations between gender inequality and income inequality (Gonzales et al. 2015). Further, the World Bank estimates that higher female labour force participation accounted for about 30% of the reductions in poverty and income inequality in Latin America between 2000 and 2010 (World Bank 2012). Disclosure statement No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author. Funding This work was supported by the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation [grant number 1135354]. Notes on contributor Sarah Hendriks was previously the Director of Gender Equality at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 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Accessed September 23, 2019. https:// globalfindex.worldbank.org/index.php/node. World Bank. 2012. “The Effect of Women’s Economic Power in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Accessed August 21, 2019. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/11867/9780821397701 ?sequence=1. 1038 S. HENDRIKS http://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Understanding-measuring-womens-economic-empowerment http://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Understanding-measuring-womens-economic-empowerment http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2015/sdn1520 https://www.gpfi.org/sites/gpfi/files/documents/03-Digital%20Financial%20Solution%20to%20Advance%20Women… https://www.gpfi.org/sites/gpfi/files/documents/03-Digital%20Financial%20Solution%20to%20Advance%20Women… https://ideas.repec.org/p/wbk/wboper/10113.html https://ideas.repec.org/p/wbk/wboper/10113.html https://globalfindex.worldbank.org/index.php/node https://globalfindex.worldbank.org/index.php/node https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/11867/9780821397701 ?sequence=1 Abstract Introduction Why financial inclusion matters for women Women and Girls at the Center of Development Grand Challenge Reaching last-mile populations through digital financial services Increasing usage: tailoring financial products to women’s preferences and needs Enhancing women’s access to formal financial services through government-to-people (G2P) Transforming the way women participate in economies The foundation’s approach to increase women’s economic empowerment through digital financial services Deliberate efforts are required to close the gender gap in digital financial services (DFS) Conclusion Notes Disclosure statement Notes on contributor References << /ASCII85EncodePages false /AllowTransparency false /AutoPositionEPSFiles false /AutoRotatePages /PageByPage /Binding /Left /CalGrayProfile () /CalRGBProfile (Adobe RGB \0501998\051) /CalCMYKProfile (U.S. Web Coated \050SWOP\051 v2) /sRGBProfile (sRGB IEC61966-2.1) /CannotEmbedFontPolicy /Error /CompatibilityLevel 1.3 /CompressObjects /Off /CompressPages true /ConvertImagesToIndexed true /PassThroughJPEGImages false /CreateJobTicket false /DefaultRenderingIntent /Default /DetectBlends true /DetectCurves 0.1000 /ColorConversionStrategy /sRGB /DoThumbnails true /EmbedAllFonts true /EmbedOpenType false /ParseICCProfilesInComments true /EmbedJobOptions true /DSCReportingLevel 0 /EmitDSCWarnings false /EndPage -1 /ImageMemory 524288 /LockDistillerParams true /MaxSubsetPct 100 /Optimize true /OPM 1 /ParseDSCComments false /ParseDSCCommentsForDocInfo true /PreserveCopyPage true /PreserveDICMYKValues true /PreserveEPSInfo false /PreserveFlatness true /PreserveHalftoneInfo false /PreserveOPIComments false /PreserveOverprintSettings false /StartPage 1 /SubsetFonts true /TransferFunctionInfo /Remove /UCRandBGInfo /Remove /UsePrologue false /ColorSettingsFile () /AlwaysEmbed [ true ] /NeverEmbed [ true ] /AntiAliasColorImages false /CropColorImages true /ColorImageMinResolution 150 /ColorImageMinResolutionPolicy /OK /DownsampleColorImages true /ColorImageDownsampleType /Bicubic /ColorImageResolution 300 /ColorImageDepth -1 /ColorImageMinDownsampleDepth 1 /ColorImageDownsampleThreshold 1.50000 /EncodeColorImages true /ColorImageFilter /DCTEncode /AutoFilterColorImages false /ColorImageAutoFilterStrategy /JPEG /ColorACSImageDict << /QFactor 0.90 /HSamples [2 1 1 2] /VSamples [2 1 1 2] >>
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Articles/Hoge et al, 2020, Developing and Validating the Scale of Economic Self-Efficacy

https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260517706761

Journal of Interpersonal Violence
2020, Vol. 35(15-16) 3011 –3033

© The Author(s) 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/0886260517706761

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Article

Developing and
Validating the Scale of
Economic Self-Efficacy

Gretchen L. Hoge, PhD, MSW,1
Amanda M. Stylianou, PhD, LCSW,2
Andrea Hetling, PhD,1
and Judy L. Postmus, PhD, ACSW1

Abstract
Experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) and financial hardship are
often intertwined. The dynamics of an abusive relationship may include
economic abuse tactics that compromise a survivor’s ability to work, pursue
education, have access to financial resources, and establish financial skills,
knowledge, and security. An increasingly common goal among programs
serving IPV survivors is increasing financial empowerment through financial
literacy. However, providing financial education alone may not be enough
to improve financial behaviors. Psychological factors also play a role when
individuals make financial choices. Economic self-efficacy focuses on the
individual’s perceived ability to perform economic or financial tasks, and
may be considered a primary influence on one’s ability to improve financial
decisions and behaviors. The current study tests the reliability and validity of
a Scale of Economic Self-Efficacy with a sample of female survivors of IPV. This
study uses a calibration and validation analysis model including full and split-
sample exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, assesses for internal
consistency, and examines correlation coefficients between economic self-
efficacy, economic self-sufficiency, financial strain, and difficulty living with
income. Findings indicate that the 10-item, unidimensional Scale of Economic

1Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA
2Safe Horizon, New York, NY, USA

Corresponding Author:
Gretchen L. Hoge, Center on Violence Against Women & Children, School of Social Work,
Rutgers University, 390 George St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.
Email: ghoge@ssw.rutgers.edu

706761 JIVXXX10.1177/0886260517706761Journal of Interpersonal ViolenceHoge et al.
research-article2017

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3012 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 35(15-16)

Self-Efficacy demonstrates strong reliability and validity among this sample of
IPV survivors. An ability to understand economic self-efficacy could facilitate
individualized service approaches and allow practitioners to better support
IPV survivors on their journey toward financial empowerment. Given
the increase in programs focused on assets, financial empowerment, and
economic well-being, the Scale of Economic Self-Efficacy has potential as a
very timely and relevant tool in the design, implementation, and evaluation
of such programs, and specifically for programs created for IPV survivors.

Keywords
economic self-efficacy, financial knowledge, intimate partner violence,
domestic violence, women, personal finance, financial management

Introduction

Experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) and financial hardship are often
intertwined. The dynamics of an abusive relationship may include economic
abuse tactics that compromise a survivor’s ability to work, pursue education,
have access to financial resources, and establish financial skills, knowledge,
and security (Adams, Sullivan, Bybee, & Greeson, 2008). Thus, an increas-
ingly common goal among programs serving IPV survivors is increasing
financial empowerment through financial literacy.

Financial educators and behavioral economists have recognized the role
psychological factors play when individuals make financial choices (The
Social Research Centre, 2011) and, hence, have deduced that providing
financial education alone may not be enough to improve financial behaviors
(Gilovich, Griffin, & Kahneman, 2002; Rothwell, Khan, & Cherney, 2015;
Schuchardt et al., 2009; Sherraden, 2013; Thaler & Sunstein, 2008; Zweig,
2007). Self-efficacy, an individual’s confidence in her or his perceived ability
to perform a specific task or behavior, is also needed to change one’s behav-
ior (Fishbein & Ajzen, 2010). Researchers have found that higher levels of
economic self-efficacy (ESE), or the perceived ability to perform economic
or financial tasks, have translated into positive financial behavior (Danes,
Huddleston-Casas, & Boyce, 1999; Vitt et al., 2000). An understanding of an
individual’s sense of ESE can aid educators in strengthening approaches to
building financial empowerment.

Although a validated and widely used scale is available to measure gen-
eral self-efficacy, there is no comprehensive measure of ESE that has been
tested in the field of IPV. Hence, the aim of this research was to test the reli-
ability and validity of the Scale of Economic Self-Efficacy, a measure that

Hoge et al. 3013

focuses on perceived confidence in one’s ability to complete specific finan-
cial tasks, among a sample of female IPV survivors.

Background

IPV, Economic Self-Efficacy, and Financial Empowerment

An estimated two million women per year are victims of IPV in the United
States (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). IPV includes threatened, attempted, or
completed physical, psychological, sexual, and economic abusive tactics
used by the perpetrator to gain power and control over the survivor. In situa-
tions where economic abuse is present, perpetrators use tactics to control a
survivor’s access to financial resources, to prevent her from improving her
financial situation, and to exploit her financial resources (Adams et al., 2008;
Postmus, Plummer, & Stylianou, 2016; Sanders, 2015). Survivors report that
financial dependency on an abusive partner is a primary reason they stay in
or return to abusive relationships (Anderson & Saunders, 2003; Barnett,
2000; Kim & Gray, 2008).

While IPV occurs among all socioeconomic backgrounds, low-income
women are more often subject to abuse than middle or upper-income women
(Meier, 1997; Tolman & Raphael, 2000). According to the 2010 National
Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 9.7% of women with annual
household incomes less than US$25,000 had experienced IPV in the past 12
months compared with 2.8% of women in the highest income category of
US$75,000 or more (Breiding, Chen, & Black, 2014). Although women are
more likely than men to be victims of IPV, they are also more likely than men
to live longer, have shorter work tenures, and to earn less money putting
women at higher risk than men for having financial difficulties (Weir &
Willis, 2000). In addition, while research documents low levels of financial
literacy across the gender divide, financial illiteracy is more prevalent among
women than men (Lusardi & Mitchell, 2008).

When applying the concept of ESE and self-efficacy judgments (Bandura,
1977) in the context of IPV, and in particular with low-income women expe-
riencing IPV, a survivor’s determination of her capacity to manage financial
resources is based on various experiences. This will be affected by whether
she has had previous experience in managing household finances or whether
she has observed successful financial management by others. Her feelings
will also be influenced by whether she has received encouragement from
significant others to manage the household’s finances, as well as her somatic
experiences while engaging in financial behaviors. It is also important to con-
sider how these experiences may vary in different cultural contexts, where

3014 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 35(15-16)

cultural norms or language proficiency may influence a survivor’s involve-
ment in financial management.

In an economically abusive relationship, a survivor’s perception of her
ESE may be limited in a number of ways in relation to the influences described
above. For example, a survivor is often restricted from accessing financial
resources (Brewster, 2003; VonDeLinde, 2002; Wettersten et al., 2004),
which limits her experience in performing financial behaviors. The perpetra-
tor may also manage finances without input or agreement from the survivor
(Anderson et al., 2003; Brewster, 2003), which limits her vicarious experi-
ence of financial management behaviors. In addition, the perpetrator may
utilize psychological abuse tactics to verbally undermine the survivor’s con-
fidence in managing household finances. Finally, a survivor’s somatic expe-
riences, including anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms,
may create a negative emotional response to financial discussions or
behaviors.

Advocates in the IPV field might increase a survivor’s ESE by providing
financial knowledge and experiences in which the survivor can practice
engaging in and observing financial behaviors in a supportive environment
(Christy-McMullin, 2003; Correia, 2000; Sanders & Schnabel, 2006). In
doing so, advocates can support survivors in learning financial management
skills to empower survivors and increase survivors’ sense of confidence
about their ability to manage their own finances (Sanders, 2007). A compre-
hensive measure of ESE would serve IPV advocates and others to identify
survivors who need support specifically in the area of improving financial
knowledge and behavior to move toward financial independence.

Measuring Economic Self-Efficacy

According to social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1997), self-efficacy, or an
individual’s perceived ability to complete a task, is the prime factor for influ-
encing behavior. Self-efficacy has a powerful impact on behavior because
self-efficacy is a strong conviction of competence based on the individual’s
evaluation of various sources of information about her abilities (Bandura,
1986). Self-efficacy literature focuses on two types of self-efficacy: global
and task specific. Global self-efficacy is conceptualized as a general sense of
self-efficacy that refers to a broad and stable sense of personal competence to
deal effectively with a variety of situations (Schwarzer & Jerusalem, 1995).
In contrast, task specific self-efficacy focuses on a specific behavior and the
individual’s sense of competency in carrying out that specific behavior.
Bandura (1997) advocates for a behavior-specific approach to the study of
self-efficacy, arguing that a measure of general self-efficacy is inadequate for

Hoge et al. 3015

tapping an individual’s efficacy in managing tasks associated with a specific
behavior. Therefore, to understand an individual’s perceived competence in
managing her financial resources and addressing financial challenges, a mea-
sure of ESE must focus specifically on tasks related to financial management
behaviors.

Studies on financial literacy and empowerment programs have utilized a
number of measures of ESE. These have included combinations of various
scales with limited questions (Dietz, Carrozza, & Ritchey, 2003; Dulebohn &
Murray, 2007), indexes comprised of limited questions related to financial
confidence (Loke, Choi, & Libby, 2015), as well as a single scale including
questions related to both general and ESE (Lown, 2011). There have been
few studies published specifically on the measurement of ESE. The first
study that aimed to create a measure of ESE (Lown, 2011) created and vali-
dated a measure of Financial Self-Efficacy (FSE) to help educators and coun-
selors better understand, guide, and motivate their students and clients. The
developed instrument was based on the 10-item General Self-Efficacy Scale
(GSES: Schwarzer & Jerusalem, 1995). The GSES was modified by incorpo-
rating specific references to financial management in six out of the original
10 statements. The scale was then validated among employees of a large state
university as part of a larger study on financial planning. Among this sample,
the principal components factor analysis resulted in two distinct factors. The
first factor consisted of the six FSE items while the second factor consisted of
the four general self-efficacy items. The final scale included the six items
from the FSE subscale (e.g. progress toward my financial goals, stick to
spending plan, lack confidence in managing finances), and demonstrated
strong internal reliability in the study. However, the four items from the
GSES that were not modified to include financial specific behavior language
were dropped from the scale. This separation of FSE items from general self-
efficacy items supported Bandura’s (1997) argument that general self-effi-
cacy items do not measure the same construct as behavior-specific items.
However, it was undetermined as to whether those four items would have
remained in the scale if they had also been modified to target specific finan-
cial tasks.

The second study (Weaver, Sanders, Campbell, & Schnabel, 2009) created
and validated the Domestic Violence–Financial Issues Scale (DV-FI). The
DV-FI is an assessment of the financial issues facing female survivors of IPV.
The DV-FI includes a subscale measuring ESE with items related to confi-
dence in achieving financial goals (e.g., I am confident I can meet my goals
for becoming financially secure, I am confident I can meet my goals for elim-
inating credit card debt). Although this scale provides important information
on assessing a survivor’s confidence with specific financial domains, such as

3016 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 35(15-16)

managing credit and obtaining employment and educational opportunities, it
is not a comprehensive measure of ESE. Indeed, in one study with IPV survi-
vors from lower socioeconomic status, this subscale poorly captured ESE
since survivors reported being “confident in eliminating credit card debt” as
they did not have credit cards to incur any debt (Postmus & Plummer, 2010).
A comprehensive measure of ESE must be specific enough that it can accu-
rately measure the survivor’s confidence in engaging in financial behaviors,
but cannot be so specific that the behaviors are not applicable to all IPV sur-
vivors. For example, not all survivors are focused on gaining employment or
educational opportunities. Similarly, questions cannot be too general that par-
ticipants are answering items based on general notions of self-efficacy rather
than ESE.

A third study developed and validated a measure of FSE for the purposes
of examining gender-related attitudes toward financial management among
female entrepreneurs (Amatucci & Crawley, 2011). The authors built their
FSE construct by combining items capturing “managing money” in anentre-
preneurial self-efficacy scale (Wilson, Kickul & Marlino, 2007) and “imple-
menting financial” items from another entrepreneurial self-efficacy scale
(McGee, Peterson, Mueller & Sequeira, 2009) (i.e., How would you rate your
skills in financial management? How confident do you feel about your skills
in financial management? How confident do you feel about your abilities to
undertake the successful financial management of your company?) The use
of this measure of ESE is limited in scope due to issues of both specificity
and generalization in item construction. The third item limits the use of this
measure to business owners, while the first and second items are broad in
nature and may be interpreted differently by different respondents. In addi-
tion, the first item measures perceived skills, whereas the second and third
items measure perceived confidence. Furthermore, the sample that was used
in creating this measure was comprised of female business owners who were
primarily aged above 40 years and mostly had a college degree, with about
one-third holding a graduate degree. This is a demographic that may enjoy a
more stable financial reality than those starting out financially, or those who
experience extreme financial challenges. As such, this measure of ESE does
not prove generalizable for broader samples.

The aim of the present study was to evaluate the reliability and validity of
a fully modified version of the GSES (Schwarzer & Jerusalem, 1995) with a
sample of female survivors of IPV. The research questions for this study
included the following:

Research Question 1: What are the psychometric properties of the Scale
of ESE among a culturally diverse group of female survivors of IPV?

Hoge et al. 3017

Research Question 2: How strongly does the Scale of ESE correlate with
other financial measures including economic self-sufficiency, financial
strain, and difficulty with income?

Method

This current study is part of a larger study that included longitudinal, random-
ized control methods to evaluate the impact of the “Moving Ahead Through
Financial Management” economic empowerment program designed for sur-
vivors of IPV. The Allstate Foundation in partnership with the National
Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) created the curriculum to help
survivors identify the signs of economic abuse and its impact in their lives, to
increase their financial knowledge and ability to manage their finances, and
to aid them in securing the confidence necessary to rebuild their financial
foundation (www.clicktoempower.org).

This larger study recruited 457 participants from 14 agencies serving sur-
vivors of IPV in seven states across the Northwest, Midwest, and Texas
regions of the United States and the territory of Puerto Rico. The agencies
were located in urban and suburban locations of varied socioeconomic levels,
and served both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking survivors. Staff
advertised the study within their agencies and conducted initial eligibility
screenings of potential participants prior to scheduling their first interview. A
participant needed to be a woman who (a) had experienced some form of IPV
in the 12 months leading up to the screening, (b) was 18 years of age or older
at the time of the screening, (c) had not attended a financial literacy class in
the 2 years prior to the screening, (d) was committed to attend the curriculum
group if randomly selected to participate, and (e) was committed to partici-
pate in study interviews whether or not they were randomly selected to par-
ticipate in the curriculum group. Women who met the eligibility criteria and
expressed interest to the advocate in participating in the study completed a
contact sheet that requested personal information, including safe phone num-
bers and email addresses they identified as safe. Once completed, the contact
sheets were collected by the advocates in each domestic violence agency and
sent to the research team. One of the research team members then contacted
the women to set up the face-to-face interview dates.

Each member of the research team had experience working with IPV survi-
vors and was trained on the research protocol. Precautions were taken to ensure
that both phone and in-person contact with survivors was conducted in a safe
and sensitive manner. The initial pretest interview was conducted in person at
the agency from which the participant was recruited, and lasted approximately 1
hr. The survey instrument covered a wide range of measures related to economic

www.clicktoempower.org

3018 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 35(15-16)

and emotional well-being, as well as demographic variables of interest. The sur-
vey was read aloud by the researcher and then participant answers were entered
directly into an online version of the survey through SNAP©, a web-based sur-
vey tool. Paper and pencil surveys were used in situations where Internet access
was unavailable, and data were then entered into the web-based format immedi-
ately following survey administration. Institutional Review Board approval was
obtained prior to all interaction with study participants, and all participants com-
pleted the informed consent process prior to participation. Participants received
a US$20 VISA gift card for their participation in the pretest survey.

Analytic Sample

This current study uses data from the pretest (Time 1) interviews with the full
sample of 457 survivors of IPV. Data from the pretest were selected for this
analysis, as this study focuses solely on scale creation and does not examine
the impact of the financial empowerment intervention. Little’s Missing
Completely at Random (Little, 1988) was run to assess for missing data for
each individual item in the Scale of ESE. This test indicated that missing data
on these items was missing completely at random, χ2(72) = 74.965, p > .1.
Listwise deletion was thus used to remove any case with missing data on
items in this scale, resulting in an analytic sample of 447 participants, out of
the original 457 sample members.

Table 1 demonstrates the percentages, means and standard deviations of
the demographic variables for the total analytic sample of 447, as well as for
the randomly split sample halves used in analysis. For the overall sample,
mean age was 36 years (SD = 9.14). The sample consisted primarily of
women of color with 54.3% of the sample identifying as Latina/Hispanic;
20.2% as Black or African American, non-Hispanic women; 17.5% as White,
non-Hispanic women; and 8.0% as “Other.” Approximately half (51.7%) of
the respondents were born in the United States. Almost half (48.1%) reported
an annual income under US$10,000. Just over 45% of the participants were
employed either part or full-time. Just over 20% of the respondents reported
currently being involved in an abusive relationship. About 81% of the women
reported being financially responsible for children under the age of 18 years.
No statistically significant differences were found between the randomly
split sample halves on any of these demographic variables.

Measures

The survey instrument was comprised of several validated or revised scales.
The survey was available in both English and Spanish. A member of the

Hoge et al. 3019

Table 1. Descriptive Statistics for Total and Randomly Split Analytic Sample.

Variable

% or M (SD)

Total Analytic
Sample (n = 447)

Calibration
Sample (n = 230)

Validation
Sample (n = 217)

Age, M (SD) 36.3 (9.14) 36.7 (9.29) 35.9 (8.98)
Time obtaining services
Less than 3 months 48.0 46.6 49.5
3 months-6 months 34.7 36.4 32.9
More than 6 months 17.3 17.0 17.6
Services received (%)
Emergency/short-term

housing
14.1 14.3 13.8

Individual counseling 59.1 59.6 58.5
Legal advocacy 28.9 26.5 31.3
Support groups 58.8 55.7 62.2
Services for children 32.0 30.4 33.6
Advocacy/case-

management
26.6 28.7 24.4

Marital status
Married/civil union 17.9 19.2 16.6
Separated/divorced 45.3 43.6 47.0
Single 35.9 35.4 36.4
Currently in abusive

relationship
20.1 22.8 17.2

Race/ethnicity
White, non-Hispanic 17.5 19.7 15.2
Black or African

American, non-Hispanic
20.2 19.7 20.7

Latina or Hispanic 54.3 52.4 56.2
Other 8.0 8.2 7.9
Born in the United States 51.7 51.8 51.6
Employed (full- or part-

time)
45.1 41.1 49.6

Financially responsible for
children

80.7 77.3 84.3

Has health insurance 55.3 55.9 54.6
Receiving social services 71.4 68.7 74.2
Annual income less than

US$10,000
48.1 45.8 50.5

3020 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 35(15-16)

research team who was a native Spanish-speaker with English fluency trans-
lated the survey from English to Spanish. Various members of the research
team who were native English speakers with Spanish fluency then reviewed
the Spanish survey for accuracy. Any discrepancies or clarifications in trans-
lation were discussed between these members of the research team and a final
Spanish version was decided upon for use with Spanish-speaking partici-
pants. For this article, the Scale of ESE, the Scale of Economic Self-
Sufficiency, the Financial Strain Survey, and an item measuring difficulty
living on annual income were examined.

Economic self-efficacy. Based on Bandura’s (1997) recommendation of utiliz-
ing task specific measures of self-efficacy, all 10 items of the GSES (Schwar-
zer & Jerusalem, 1995) were modified to focus specifically on financial
behaviors. Each item was altered to include economic language. For exam-
ple, the first item of the GSES states, “I can always manage to solve difficult
problems if I try hard enough.” The item was rephrased to measure ESE by
changing the item to state, “I can always manage to solve difficult financial
problems if I try hard enough.” Response options ranged from 1 (strongly
disagree) to 5 (strong agree) on a 5-point Likert-type scale. The authors
aimed to revise the GSES to design a comprehensive measure of ESE that
would be specific enough to accurately measure a survivor’s confidence in
engaging in financial behaviors, but not so specific that the financial behav-
iors would not be applicable to all IPV survivors.

The GSES (Schwarzer & Jerusalem, 1995) has shown to be a reliable and
valid scale when measuring self-efficacy and has been used with many differ-
ent sample groups such as teachers and college students (Brafford & Beck,
1991; Gibson & Dembo, 1984). It has also been used in different languages
including German, Spanish, and Chinese (Schwarzer, Basler, Kwiatek,
Schroder, & Zhang, 2008). Among this sample, the scale demonstrated ade-
quate internal reliability with a Cronbach’s alpha of .88. Table 2 provides
means and standard deviations for individual items and the overall scale for
the analytic sample.

Economic self-sufficiency. Economic self-sufficiency (Gowdy & Pearlmutter,
1993) was included to measure respondents’ ability to accomplish specific
financial tasks in the past month. Participants rated the frequency with which
they had accomplished these tasks over the past month by using a 5-point
scale with answers ranging from 1 (no, not at all) to 5 (yes, all of the time).
An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was run with this sample and the num-
ber of items was reduced from 15 to 14, including three subscales: Ability to
Manage Daily/Immediate Financial Needs (seven questions, α = .80), Ability

Hoge et al. 3021

to Have Discretionary Funds (three questions, α = .74), and Ability to Main-
tain Independent Living (four questions, α = .64). This revised scale was
renamed Scale of Economic Self-Sufficiency-14 (SESS-14) (Hetling, Hoge
& Postmus, 2016).

Financial strain. The Financial Strain Survey (Aldana & Liljenquist, 1998;
Hetling, Stylianou & Postmus, 2015) is an18-item scale that measures five
areas of financial strain including Poor Financial Education (three items),
Poor Relationships (four items), Physical Symptoms (four items), Poor Credit
Card Use (three items), and Unable to Meet Financial Obligations (four
items). Participants were asked to indicate how often the items applied to
them over the past 12 months. Participants indicated such frequency using a
5-point scale with answers ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). Items 1, 2,
3, and 15 were recoded as they were negatively worded items. In this sample

Table 2. Descriptive Statistics for Scale of Economic Self-Efficacy Items (N = 447).

Item M (SD)

I can solve most financial problems if I invest the
necessary effort.

3.67 (.90)

I can always manage to solve difficult financial problems if
I try hard enough.

3.51 (1.1)

If I am in financial trouble, I can usually think of something
to do.

3.50 (.94)

If I have a financial problem, I can find ways to get what I
need.

3.43 (1.05)

When I am confronted with a financial problem, I can
usually find several solutions.

3.19 (1.01)

No matter what financial problem comes my way, I’m
usually able to handle it.

3.17 (.99)

Thanks to my resourcefulness, I know how to handle
unforeseen financial situations.

3.15 (1.07)

I can remain calm when facing financial difficulties because
I can rely on my financial abilities.

2.91 (1.08)

I am confident that I could deal efficiently with
unexpected financial events.

2.83 (1.05)

It is easy for me to stick to and accomplish my financial
goals.

2.77 (1.07)

Note. Scale of 1-5: 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, or 5 = strongly
agree.
Participants were asked, “Please choose the answer that best represents your experience in
the last month.”

3022 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 35(15-16)

of female survivors of IPV, the overall scale (Financial Strain, α = .84) and
most subscales demonstrated high internal reliability (Poor Financial Educa-
tion, α = .81, Poor Relationships, α = .80, Physical Symptoms, α = .87, Poor
Credit Card Use, α = .54, and Unable to Meet Financial Obligations, α = .82).

Difficulty living on income. To measure the participant’s perceived difficulty
living on annual household income, participants were asked, “Over the past
12 months, how difficult was it for you to live on your annual household
income?” Response options ranged from 1 (not at all difficult) to 5 (extremely
difficult).

Data Analysis

A four-part process was used to explore and confirm the factor structure of
the Scale of ESE among survivors of IPV and to test the reliability and con-
current validity of the scale.

First, EFA, using Principal Axis Factoring extraction and Direct Oblimin
rotation, was used to examine the factor structure of the Scale of ESE for the
total analytic sample of 447 participants using SPSS 21.0 data analysis pack-
age. Oblique rotation was utilized based on the assumption that the factors
would be highly correlated (Worthington & Whittaker, 2006).

Second, the overall sample was randomly split for the purposes of further
validation of the factor structure of the Scale of ESE. This random split resulted
in a subsample of 230 participants used for the purposes of calibration of the
factor structure through repeat EFA, and a subsample of 217 participants used
for factor structure validation through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA).
Similar to the EFA run on the total analytic sample, Principal Axis Factoring
extraction and Direct Oblimin rotation were used to examine the factor struc-
ture of the ESE scale with the calibration sample. CFA was then run on the vali-
dation subsample using structural equation modeling in AMOS Graphics.

Third, the internal consistency of the ESE scale was examined. This was
assessed by examining the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient for the overall scale
among the total analytic sample (n = 447).

Fourth, concurrent validity was tested for the total analytic sample through
correlation analyses between the Scale of ESE, the SESS-14, the Financial
Strain Survey, and the item measuring participants’ difficulty with income.
These scales and items were chosen based on their conceptual similarity with
the Scale of ESE. The correlation between the Scale of ESE and the SESS-14
was hypothesized to be positive, whereas negative correlations were the
expected result among the Scale of ESE and the Financial Strain Survey and
the item measuring participants’ difficulty with income.

Hoge et al. 3023

Results

Phase 1: EFA With the Overall Sample

The EFA resulted in a one-factor solution, utilizing all of the original 10
items, Kaiser-Mayer-Olkin (KMO) = .906; χ2(45) = 859.940, p < .001, which accounted for 49.12% of the total variance. The oblique rotated factor matrix indicated that all items loaded moderate to high, ranging from .577 to .747. Table 3 presents the factor matrix loadings of the items. Table 3. Factor Matrix Factor Loadings. Item Factor Loading Total Sample (n = 447) Calibration Subsample (n = 230) 1. I can always manage to solve difficult financial problems if I try hard enough. .602 .583 2. If I have a financial problem, I can find ways to get what I need. .577 .590 3. It is easy for me to stick to and accomplish my financial goals. .591 .584 4. I am confident that I could deal efficiently with unexpected financial events. .708 .722 5. Thanks to my resourcefulness, I know how to handle unforeseen financial situations. .711 .709 6. I can solve most financial problems if I invest the necessary effort. .628 .620 7. I can remain calm when facing financial difficulties because I can rely on my financial abilities. .671 .630 8. When I am confronted with a financial problem, I can usually find several solutions. .705 .694 9. If I am in financial trouble, I can usually think of something to do. .639 .626 10. No matter what financial problem comes my way, I’m usually able to handle it. .747 .708 % of total variance explained 49.12 47.79 3024 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 35(15-16) Phase 2: EFA and CFA With Randomly Split Sample Calibration: EFA. The EFA of the calibration subsample (n = 230) resulted in a one factor solution in the split-sample calibration analysis, including all of the original 10 items, KMO = .904, χ2(45) = 1778.95, p < .001. This factor structure accounted for 47.79% of the total variance. The oblique rotated fac- tor matrix for this analysis indicated that all items loaded moderate to high, with factor loadings ranging from .583 to .722, similar to the result of the analysis run on the total analytic sample. The factor matrix loadings of indi- vidual items from this analysis are also presented in Table 3. Validation: CFA. A CFA was run to further validate the factor structure of the Scale of ESE using the validation subsample (n = 217). The unidimensional, 10-item factor structure accepted in the process of calibration through EFA was tested. The initial model showed a modestly good fit to the data, χ2 = 125.203, comparative fit index (CFI) = .902, goodness-of-fit index (GFI) = .899, root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) = .109, Tucker– Lewis index (TLI) = .874. However, upon review of modification indices, it was found that error terms for Items 1 and 2, Items 4 and 5, and Items 8 and 9 were correlated. It was determined that these error correlations also had substantive validity. As such, post hoc analysis was run to determine whether a model including these error term correlations would result in a statistically significant improvement in model fit. Since these models were nested, Δχ2 was evaluated to determine whether the modified model was a statistically significantly different from the initial model. As Table 4 shows, the one-fac- tor model including modifications based on post hoc analysis provides a sta- tistically significantly improved fit to the data (χ2 = 74.775, CFI = .954, GFI = .938, RMSEA = .079, TLI = .935, Δχ2(3) = 50.428, p < .001). Phase 3: Reliability The internal consistency of the Scale of ESE among this sample was assessed by examining the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. The overall Scale of ESE demonstrated a good level of internal consistency, with a Cronbach’s reli- ability coefficient of .88. Phase 4: Concurrent Validity Correlations were used to examine the concurrent validity of the Scale of ESE. Table 5 depicts the correlations among the Scale of ESE, the overall scale and three subscales of the SESS-14, the overall scale and five subscales of the Financial Strain Survey, and the item measuring perceived difficulty living on Hoge et al. 3025 annual income. The Scale of ESE was negatively correlated with the overall Financial Strain Survey and all five of its subscales (Financial Strain, r = −.500, p < .01; Physical Subscale, r = −.370, p < .01; Poor Education Subscale, r = −.376, p < .01; Poor Relationships Subscale, r = −.255, p < .01; Poor Credit Card Use Subscale, r = −.114, p < .05; and Unable to Meet Obligations Subscale, r = −.401, p < .01). The Scale of ESE was also negatively correlated with the diffi- culty with income item (r = −.285, p < .01). The Scale of ESE was positively correlated with the overall SESS-14 scale and all three of its subscales (SESS-14 scale, r = .497, p < .01; Ability to Manage Immediate Financial Needs Subscale, r = .553, p < .01; Ability to Have Discretionary Funds Subscale, r = .392, p < .01; Ability to Maintain Independent Living, r = .224, p < .01). Discussion This study indicates that the Scale of ESE is an appropriate tool for under- standing and measuring ESE among IPV survivors. Examination of the Scale of ESE using the full sample EFA, as well as through EFA calibration and Table 4. Overall Fit Statistics for Economic Self-Efficacy Confirmatory Factor Analyses (N = 217). Measures of Fit Models One-Factor Modified One-Factor ESE ESE Discrepancy χ2 125.203 74.775 df 35 32 p value .000 .000 Discrepancy / df 3.577 2.337 GFI .899 .938 AGFI .842 .894 TLI .874 .935 CFI .902 .954 RMSEA (CI) .109 [.089, .130] .079 [.056, .102] ECVI (CI) .765 [.624, .941] .559 [.460, .694] BIC 167.349 198.512 AIC model 165.203 120.775 AIC saturated 110.000 110.000 Note. ESE = Economic Self-Efficacy Scale; GFI = goodness-of-fit index; AGFI = adjusted goodness-of-fit index; TLI = Tucker–Lewis index; CFI = comparative fit index; RMSEA = root mean square error of approximation; CI = confidence interval; ECVI = expected cross- validation index; BIC = Bayesian information criterion; AIC = Akaike information criterion. 3026 T a b le 5 . C o rr el at io ns B et w ee n Ec o no m ic S el f- Ef fic ac y, E co no m ic S el f- Su ffi ci en cy , F in an ci al S tr ai n, a nd D iff ic ul ty W it h In co m e. Ec o no m ic Se lf- Ef fic ac y Ec o no m ic S el f- Su ffi ci en cy ES S Su bs ca le 1 ES S Su bs ca le 2 ES S Su bs ca le 3 Fi na nc ia l St ra in FS Su bs ca le 1 FS Su bs ca le 2 FS Su bs ca le 3 FS Su bs ca le 4 FS Su bs ca le 5 Ec o no m ic S el f- Ef fic ac y 1 Ec o no m ic S el f- Su ffi ci en cy ( ES S) .4 97 ** 1 ES S Su bs ca le 1 — Im m ed ia te F in an ci al N ee ds .5 53 ** .9 09 ** 1 ES S Su bs ca le 2 — D is cr et io na ry F un ds .3 92 ** .7 33 ** .5 89 ** 1 ES S Su bs ca le 3 — In de pe nd en t Li vi ng .2 24 ** .7 74 ** .4 95 ** .4 21 ** 1 Fi na nc ia l S tr ai n (F S) − .5 00 ** − .4 10 ** − .4 82 ** − .2 61 ** − .1 77 ** 1 FS S ub sc al e 1— Ed uc at io n − .3 76 ** − .3 60 ** − .3 46 ** − .2 68 ** − .2 54 ** .4 35 ** 1 FS S ub sc al e 2— R el at io ns hi ps − .2 55 ** − .1 39 ** − .2 27 ** − .0 35 .0 09 .6 93 ** .0 62 1 FS S ub sc al e 3— Ph ys ic al − .3 70 ** − .2 76 ** − .3 12 ** − .1 97 ** − .1 19 * .8 05 ** .1 66 ** .4 33 ** 1 FS S ub sc al e 4— C re di t C ar d U se − .1 14 * .0 84 .0 19 .0 93 * .1 32 ** .3 30 ** − .0 57 .1 73 ** .2 16 ** 1 FS S ub sc al e 5— M ee ti ng O bl ig at io ns − .4 01 ** − .4 69 ** − .5 24 ** − .3 17 ** − .2 37 ** .7 45 ** .2 14 ** .3 26 ** .3 10 ** .1 31 ** 1 D iff ic ul ty w it h in co m e − .2 85 ** − .3 12 ** − .3 13 ** − .2 70 ** − .1 72 ** .4 41 ** .1 53 ** .2 23 ** .3 74 ** .0 96 * .4 49 ** *p < .0 1. * *p < .0 01 . Hoge et al. 3027 CFA validation using randomly split samples produced the same 10-item uni- dimensional scale, indicating strong validity with this sample of IPV survi- vors. Examination of the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient for internal consistency indicated strong reliability of this scale. Correlation of the overall ESE scale with other relevant economic concepts also produced results indicating a strong level of concurrent validity for this scale. In examining correlations of conceptually related concepts, results show that ESE is correlated with other key financial variables that may be indicators of one’s ability to move for- ward financially. Our results are tempered by study limitations related to external validity. First, sampling procedures limit the generalizability of the findings to all IPV survivors. Study participants were currently receiving services from a domes- tic violence agency and self-selected to participate in the research project. These characteristics indicate an ability to seek out resources that may differ from survivors who are not connected to services or from survivors who chose not to participate in the study. Volunteering to participate in the study may also signal that study participants may have a stronger interest in improv- ing financial behaviors in comparison to survivors who were not interested in the study. Second, descriptive statistics of the sample illustrated that the sample was primarily low-income women of color. Over half the women in the sample (54.3%) identified as Latina or Hispanic, and over 20.2% identified as Black or African American. In addition, close to half of the participants were for- eign-born (48.3%). On one hand, this suggests that the concepts being stud- ied may have cultural relevance for diverse groups. On the other hand, although these demographics are reflective of domestic violence agency cli- ents, further research is needed to test the measure among more diverse sociodemographic samples. Given the number of participants who identified as Latina or foreign-born, level of acculturation or cultural factors such as English language literacy, cultural beliefs and practices regarding gender and finances, or previous access to and use of financial institutions in one’s coun- try of origin could also have had an impact on ESE. However, it should also be taken into consideration that there might be notable differences in these areas among the cultural groups classified as Latina or Hispanic. Furthermore, almost half (48.1%) of study participants reported earning less than US$10,000 annually, and 71.4% reported receiving some form of social ser- vices. Although, this may indicate relevance of these financial concepts for those experiencing financial hardship, it does limit the ability to generalize to varied financial backgrounds. Further research is needed to test the reliability and validity of the Scale of ESE with different ethnic, socioeconomic, and community samples of IPV survivors, as well as with non-IPV samples, and 3028 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 35(15-16) those with greater resources to better understand how the scale functions in diverse populations. Since the current study used data from the pretest period of the longitudinal study, further testing of the scale across later time periods is needed to confirm the reliability and validity of the scale over time. Conclusion and Use of Scale Despite study limitations and the need for further research, the strong validity of the Scale of ESE in our study suggests that it should be used in practice set- tings to understand ESE. For practitioners working with IPV survivors, an ability to understand ESE could facilitate more individualized approaches to financial empowerment. This might involve financial counseling or specific activities aimed at increasing confidence in managing finances and other financial tasks. Practitioners might also facilitate discussion of any psycho- logical distress that a survivor may have experienced related to finances that could have affected their confidence in this area. By incorporating an under- standing of ESE along with a measure of financial literacy or knowledge, practitioners and advocates would be in a better position to gauge a survivor’s capacity for financial management and support them on their journey toward financial empowerment. Moreover, given the increase in programs focused on assets, financial empowerment, and financial well-being for other popula- tions, the Scale of ESE has potential as a very timely and relevant tool in the design and implementation of financial literacy programs in general, particu- larly those developed for women. The study findings also support the use of the Scale of ESE for research and evaluation concerning policy and programming aimed at improving micro-level financial outcomes. Evaluations of new and existing programs could use the Scale of ESE to measure impact. In both the research and policy communities, we see an increased focus on behavioral change and a growing understanding that behavioral change is affected by more than just knowl- edge. Future evaluations need validated measures on individual outcomes beyond the acquisition of new financial knowledge. The Scale of ESE pro- vides a robust measure of one critical aspect of improving financial behav- iors: a task specific measure of self-efficacy. Thus, by including the Scale of ESE in future evaluations and research, we expand our understanding of pro- grams’ ability to instill new knowledge on related topics, as well as increase ESE and potentially change financial behaviors. Authors’ Note Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily repre- sent the official position or policies of The Allstate Foundation. Hoge et al. 3029 Acknowledgments The authors would like to acknowledge the support of all the survivors, agencies, advocates, and members of the research team who made this study possible. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. 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Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale. In J. Weinman, S. Wright, & M. Johnston (Eds.), Measures in health psychology: A user’s portfolio. Causal and control beliefs (pp. 35-37). Windsor, UK: NFER- NELSON. Sherraden, M. (2013). Building blocks of financial capability. In J. Birkenmaier & M. Sherraden (Eds.), Financial education and capability: Research, education, policy, and practice (pp. 3-43). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Thaler, R.H., & Sunstein, C.R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. The Social Research Centre. (2011). Adult financial literacy in Australia, December 2011: Full report of the results from the ANZ 2011 Survey. Melbourne, Australia: Author. Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Full report of the prevalence, incidence, and consequences of intimate partner violence against women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. 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Development and preliminary psychometric evaluation of the Domestic Violence—Related Financial Issues Scale (DV-FI). Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24, 569-585. Weir, D. R., & Willis, R. J. (2000). Prospects for widow poverty. In O. Mitchell, P. B. Hammond, & A. Rappaport (Eds.), Forecasting retirement needs and retirement wealth (pp. 208-234). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Wettersten, K. B., Rudolph, S. E., Faul, K., Gallagher, K., Trangsrud, H. B., Adams, K., . . .Terrance, C. (2004). Freedom through self-sufficiency: A qualitative examination of the impact of domestic violence on the working lives of women in shelter. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 51, 447-462. Wilson, F., Kickul, J., & Marlino, D. (2007). Gender, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, and entrepreneurial career intentions: Implications for entrepreneurship educa- tion. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 31, 387-406. Worthington, R.L., & Whittaker, T.A. (2006). Scale development research: A content analysis and recommendations for best practices. The Counseling Psychologist, 34, 806-838. Zweig, J. (2007). Your money and your brain: How the new science of neuroeconom- ics can help make you rich. New York, NY: Simon & Shuster. Author Biographies Gretchen L. Hoge, PhD, MSW, is a research consultant for the Center on Violence Against Women and Children in the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on the experiences of survivors of intimate partner violence across cultures and in the context of immigration. Her recent focus has been on immi- grant survivors’ experiences in pursuing economic self-sufficiency after leaving an abusive relationship. Amanda M. Stylianou, PhD, LCSW, focuses her career on improving services at the intersection of trauma, health, and poverty. In her role as senior director of Research and Program Development at Safe Horizon, the nation’s leading victim services agency, she works with her team to ensure the organization is providing the most effective and efficient services to clients throughout the New York City. Her current research focuses on understanding the needs of victims/survivors of domes- tic violence and human trafficking and on understanding and evaluating practices in the field. Andrea Hetling (PhD, University of Maryland, College Park) is an associate profes- sor and chancellor scholar at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on the implementation and effi- cacy of U.S. social policies that target disadvantaged or marginalized groups. Her projects focus on families and women living in poverty and on survivors of intimate Hoge et al. 3033 partner violence. She is a Research Academy member of the National Association of Welfare and Research Statistics and a Research Affiliate of the National Poverty Center. Judy L. Postmus is an associate professor at the School of Social Work, Rutgers University. Her research is on physical, sexual, and economic victimization experi- ences of women with her most recent attention given to understanding how an eco- nomic empowerment curriculum improves fiscal and mental health functioning of battered women. She is also the director of the Center on Violence Against Women & Children. She has given many local, national, and international presentations on the impact of policies and interventions on survivors of violence. Her work is strongly influenced from her 20 years as a practitioner and administrator. Articles/Klein et al, 2021 housing interventions for IPV survivors - a review Review Manuscript Housing Interventions for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors: A Systematic Review L. B. Klein1 , Brittney R. Chesworth1, Julia R. Howland-Myers1, Cynthia Fraga Rizo1, and Rebecca J. Macy1 Abstract Intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors are much more likely to experience housing insecurity or homelessness than those who have not experienced IPV. However, little comprehensive research has evaluated the effectiveness of interventions used to address IPV survivors’ housing insecurity. To address this knowledge gap, our team conducted a systematic review guided by three questions: (a) What are current interventions for addressing IPV survivors’ housing needs? (b) What are the methodological strengths and limitations of the research evaluating those interventions? (c) How effective are the identified interventions? We identified potentially relevant peer-reviewed and gray literature using variations of predetermined search terms and four search methods. Twelve articles met inclusion criteria. Accordingly, this study showed that there is an overall dearth of research concerning interventions that address IPV survivors’ housing insecurity and needs. Shelter is the most commonly assessed and available housing intervention for IPV survivors, but only limited empirical evaluation is available of shelter effectiveness. In addition, findings indicate both traditional shelter services and innovative interventions (e.g., rapid rehousing, flexible funding) would benefit from rigorous evaluation including examining survivor and situation characteristics contributing to housing strategy effectiveness. Keywords domestic violence, homelessness, housing services, evaluation Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an urgent public health crisis, with approximately 37% of women and 31% of men in the United States experiencing sexual or physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime (Smith et al., 2017). Other common forms of IPV include psychologi- cal abuse and economic abuse (Smith et al., 2017). Of partic- ular concern, across 16 states in 2010, reports of homicide victims showed that 7% of male homicide victims and 46% of female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner (Parks, Johnson, McDaniel, & Gladden, 2014). The time during which survivors are actively leaving their abusive partners is often an especially dangerous period, so ensuring safe transi- tions for survivors is critical (Campbell, Glass, Sharps, Laughon, & Bloom, 2007). A contributing factor to IPV homi- cide might be the lack of housing services for survivors, which often forces survivors to return to their abuser or to turn to options that offer little, if any, safety (Menard, 2001; Stevenson & Wolfers, 2006). Research also finds that the need for safe housing is one of the most urgent concerns among IPV survi- vors who are planning to leave an abusive relationship (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). Despite the fact that many IPV survivors may need housing, especially during times of transition, little comprehensive guidance summarizing the state of the research in this area exists. Thus, to better understand the state of the evidence on housing interventions for IPV survivors, this study systematically reviews and synthesizes the existing literature evaluating IPV housing interventions. IPV and Housing IPV survivors are much more likely to experience housing insecurity or homelessness than those who have not experi- enced IPV (Dichter, Wagner, Borrero, Broyles, & Montgom- ery, 2017; Pavao, Alvarez, Baumrind, Induni, & Kimerling, 2007). Housing insecurity has been defined as having difficulty maintaining a residential dwelling due to ongoing issues such as difficulty paying mortgages or rent, evictions, frequent relo- cations, or living in overcrowded spaces with family or friends (Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2013; Pavao et al., 2007). Housing insecurity is distinct from homelessness because an 1 School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA Corresponding Author: L. B. Klein, School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 325 Pittsboro Street CB #3550, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. Email: lbklein@unc.edu TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 2021, Vol. 22(2) 249-264 ª The Author(s) 2019 Article reuse guidelines: sagepub.com/journals-permissions DOI: 10.1177/1524838019836284 journals.sagepub.com/home/tva https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3346-9548 https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3346-9548 mailto:lbklein@unc.edu https://sagepub.com/journals-permissions https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838019836284 http://journals.sagepub.com/home/tva http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1177%2F1524838019836284&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2019-03-26 individual experiencing housing insecurity might have a current place to live while experiencing multiple problems related to a lack of permanent or adequate housing (Rollins et al., 2012). One study found that women who experienced IPV in the last year were 4 times more likely to report housing insecurity than women who had not experienced IPV (Pavao et al., 2007). A study that followed mothers experiencing IPV over a 2-year period found that 36% had experienced housing insecurity and 11% reported homelessness during that time period (Gilroy, McFarlane, Maddoux, & Sullivan, 2016). Contributing Factors Research has pointed to several reasons why survivors of IPV commonly experience housing insecurity and homelessness. Foremost, IPV survivors often struggle with their economic well-being (Hahn & Postmus, 2014; Sanders, 2015). Survivors might have such struggles because their partners provided eco- nomically or employed economic abuse tactics, resulting in inconsistent work experience and/or constraints to their job training and educational opportunities (Sanders, 2015). In turn, obtaining stable, living-wage employment can be a challenge. Job instability has been found to play a mediating role on the relationship between IPV and housing instability and home- lessness, lasting for several years after the cessation of IPV (A. E. Adams, Tolman, Bybee, Sullivan, & Kennedy, 2012; Zink & Sill, 2004). Violent partners may keep survivors away from economic resources and/or interfere with their educations, careers, and work as part of a larger pattern of abuse. Economic abuse is a type of IPV commonly used by perpetrators and has been defined as any attempt to control or sabotage financial resources of an intimate partner as a way to ensure financial dependency (Postmus, Plummer, McMahon, Murshid, & Kim, 2012). Economic abuse tactics commonly used by perpetrators include stealing survivors’ money, sabotaging their employ- ment or housing contracts, and destroying their credit (A. E. Adams et al., 2012; Hahn & Postmus, 2014). Consequently, survivors may not have the financial resources to establish their own independent housing (Galano, Hunter, Howell, Miller, & Graham-Bermann, 2013) and may be unable to secure housing contracts because they appear unreliable due to multiple moves or perpetrators’ efforts to sabotage references or get them evicted (Baker, Billhardt, Warren, Rollins, & Glass, 2010; Martin & Stern, 2005). Survivors may also experience unem- ployment or job instability as a result of the physical and men- tal health trauma they have endured (e.g., injuries, mental health issues, substance misuse, and disconnection from social networks; A. E. Adams et al., 2012; Bonomi, Anderson, Rivara, & Thompson, 2009). In addition to economic abuse and the consequences of IPV for individual survivors, the economic and social conditions of the local communities in which survivors live may play a role on their need for housing. For example, when communities lack affordable housing options and living-wage employment opportunities, survivors may be faced with choosing between staying with the abuser and facing homelessness (Little, 2015). Housing, Safety, and Well-Being Survivors’ housing insecurity and homelessness can have det- rimental consequences on their well-being. Survivors often stay with perpetrators because they do not have other options for a place to live (Anderson et al., 2003). When survivors decide to leave or end a violent relationship, their housing circumstances become critically important because separation from the abusive partner can trigger severe violence including intimate partner homicide (Campbell et al., 2007). Thus, survi- vors who face housing insecurity and homelessness may be especially vulnerable to retaliation from the former partner. Accordingly, housing plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of survivors and their children. In addition to the negative impact of housing insecurity on survivor safety, homelessness and housing insecurity can put survivors and their children at elevated risk of mental health problems including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety (Baker et al., 2010; Gilroy et al., 2016; Rollins et al., 2012). Survivors and their children who are able to access housing after the abuse report marked improvements in their mental health and sense of safety and stability (Bomsta & Sullivan, 2018). For all these reasons, it is critical that survivors have appropriate and effective housing interventions available in their communities. Housing Interventions IPV survivors who have little financial or social support often rely on IPV housing services for shelter, safety, and healing (Galano et al., 2013; Grossman & Lundy, 2011). Typical hous- ing interventions may include crisis or emergency shelter ser- vices, transitional supportive housing (TSH), and permanent supportive housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD, 2018) defines crisis or emergency shelter services as temporary or transitional shelter for the homeless in general or for specific populations. Notably, crisis or emergency shelters vary tremendously in the type of housing they offer (e.g., communal living space, individual bedrooms, independent living; shelter can range from secure facilities with hidden locations to housing survivors in local motels) and in the approaches shelter staff use to meet survivors’ housing- related and other needs (Sullivan, 2010). Despite such varia- tion, this study uses the term shelter broadly to mean any crisis housing that is focused on providing safety and a temporary home to IPV survivors and their children. Other forms of hous- ing beyond shelter include TSH and permanent supportive housing. TSH refers to housing with a time limit up to 2 years that aims to facilitate movement of homeless individuals to permanent housing (HUD, 2018). Permanent supportive hous- ing refers to affordable housing in which survivors and their families can remain long term (HUD, 2018). 250 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 22(2) Approaches such as flexible funding, Housing First, and rapid-rehousing models are relatively new interventions to address IPV survivors’ housing needs. With flexible funding, service providers use dedicated program funds to provide sur- vivors with a limited amount of financial resources to prevent homelessness or the loss of housing by paying overdue rent, paying for car repairs so survivors can travel to their employment, or paying utility deposits (Sullivan, Bomsta, & Hacskaylo, 2016). The Housing First model has also been adapted for IPV survivors. A Housing First approach involves helping survivors obtain stable housing as a first step toward providing support for other issues related to IPV (Padgett, Henwood, & Tsemberis, 2016; Sullivan & Olsen, 2016). Informed by the Housing First model, rapid rehousing aims to help survivors quickly exit emergency shelters or homelessness and secure permanent housing. Rapid-rehousing models often prioritize survivors’ housing security by also providing suppor- tive “wraparound” services to help address survivors’ needs in comprehensive ways (Culhane & Metraux, 2008; Levitt et al., 2013). Ideally, rapid rehousing entails a tailored package of services including housing identification, rent and move-in assis- tance, and case management and ongoing support. Emergency Shelter Typically, emergency shelter services are time limited, with the average length of stay ranging between 30 and 60 days (National Network to End Domestic Violence [NNEDV], 2016). The limit on length of stay can pose a problem for IPV survivors because it can often take 10 months or longer to secure stable housing (NNEDV, 2016). To help survivors with the transition from emergency shelters to stable housing, some shelters offer supportive housing options such as transitional housing, short-term rental assistance, and permanent suppor- tive housing (NNEDV, 2016). When supportive housing options are offered after emergency shelter, these options can serve as a bridge between crisis or emergency shelter and per- manent housing (NNEDV, 2016). On a single day in 2016, the NNEDV collected census data on 92% of all domestic violence services provided across the nation. These data revealed that in one 24-hr period, 25,912 survivors and their children received emergency shelter services and another 15,283 survivors and their children received transi- tional housing services (NNEDV, 2016). Although nearly 42,000 survivors received housing services on this 1 day, the data also showed an additional 12,000 requests for domestic violence services had to be denied because of a lack of resources. Of these denied service requests, 23% were for transitional hous- ing services and 43% were for emergency shelter (NNEDV, 2016). Given such findings, an urgent need clearly exists for housing services that meet the unique needs of IPV survivors. Current Study To the best of our knowledge, no prior research has system- atically examined housing interventions for IPV survivors. Thus, to address this important knowledge gap and to under- stand the current evidence regarding programs and practices addressing the housing needs of IPV survivors, we conducted a systematic and comprehensive review of the available research focused on housing-related IPV programs and services, here- after collectively referred to as interventions. Such a review is timely given the widespread use of various housing interven- tions, such as emergency shelters, as well as the emergence of newer housing interventions, such as rapid rehousing. Our review was guided by the following questions: (a) What are current interventions discussed in the empirical literature for addressing housing needs of IPV survivors? (b) What are the methodological strengths and limitations of the research eval- uating these housing interventions? and (c) How effective are the identified interventions at addressing the needs of IPV survivors? Method This review was developed using preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols (PRISMA)-P for systematic reviews (Moher et al., 2015). Figure 1 contains a PRISMA flow diagram depicting the various steps in this study’s review process. The main goal of the review was to investigate the state of the evidence regarding interventions currently used to address IPV survivors’ housing needs. Our research team used four methods to identify relevant empirical articles: (a) database searches of peer-reviewed literature, (b) Internet searches for gray literature, (c) hand searches of relevant journals, and (d) reference harvesting. We first con- ducted a systematic search of eight electronic databases: Psy- cINFO, PubMed, Social Work Abstracts, Social Services Abstracts, Web of Science, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts, Campbell Collaboration, and Cochrane Library. These searches used variations of the following key words (which we determined in consultation with a social sci- ence librarian): intimate partner violence OR IPV OR DV OR domestic violence OR partner abuse OR dating violence OR partner violence OR inter* violence OR spous* abuse OR intimate partner abuse OR battered women AND housing OR shelter OR hotel OR residen* OR flexible fund* AND evaluat* OR research OR test* OR investigat*. This search yielded 2,964 articles. Articles were included in our review based on predeter- mined criteria assessed by two members of our research team. Articles had to (a) be empirical in their focus and analyze quantitative or qualitative data, regardless of methodology; (b) report on research that took place in the United States given the country’s unique social service context; and (c) examine housing services for IPV survivors and their children as either an intervention or outcome (i.e., proximal or distal). Needs assessments and nonempirical articles (e.g., discussions of theory and “think pieces”) were excluded, as were studies of IPV-related services that did not specifically evaluate housing interventions or outcomes. We did not exclude articles based on publication date. Klein et al. 251 Because research on IPV services is not always published in peer-reviewed journals, we also searched for IPV housing- related evaluations using both a Google Search and a review of national IPV organizations’ websites (i.e., NNEDV, VAW- net.org, and the National Resource Center on Domestic Vio- lence). This approach yielded an additional 18 documents for review. In addition, we hand searched four journals that fre- quently publish articles relevant to IPV housing: Journal of Family Violence; Journal of Interpersonal Violence; Trauma, Violence, and Abuse; and Violence Against Women. This method identified three additional articles for review. Last, we systematically reviewed the references of all articles that met our study’s inclusion criteria to identify any relevant cited articles that had not been identified in our searches. This method yielded an additional six articles. Overall, these three search methods (Internet search, hand search, and reference harvesting) identified 27 articles for review. As depicted in Figure 1, the four complementary search methods yielded 2,991 articles. After removing duplicates, we were left with 1,735 potentially relevant articles. Two mem- bers of the research team independently reviewed the titles and abstracts of these articles to determine eligibility for inclusion. Based on the title and abstract review, the two reviewers agreed to advance 52 articles for full-text review, which included some articles on which the reviewers disagreed regarding eligibility. The same two reviewers then reviewed the full text of the 52 articles and determined that 12 articles met all criteria for inclusion. Articles were excluded for three main reasons: (a) housing was not an outcome or intervention examined by the study (n ¼ 26), (b) the study did not take place in the United States (n ¼ 9), or (c) the study did not focus on evaluating housing services in the context of IPV (n ¼ 5). For the next step in the review process, three members of the research team used an abstraction spreadsheet developed and piloted by the entire team to systematically extract data from the 12 studies included in this review. The spreadsheet captured areas relevant to the research questions guiding this review, including study design, theories and models, study objectives and research questions, measures, data collection procedures, analysis design, intervention names and descriptions, out- comes, findings related to housing interventions and outcomes, implications, strengths, and limitations. To ensure consistency across the article reviews and abstractions, the three team mem- bers worked together to extract data for two articles before beginning independent extraction. In addition, over the course of the extraction process, an additional five articles were Records iden�fied through database searches (n = 2,964) Id en �fi ca �o n Addi�onal records iden�fied through other sources (n = 27) Records excluded (n = 1,683) Full-text ar�cles assessed for eligibility (n = 52) Studies included in qualita�ve synthesis (n = 12) Sc re en in g In cl ud ed El ig ib ili ty Records a�er duplicates removed (n = 1,735) Records for �tle/abstract screen (n = 1,735) Full-text ar�cles excluded, with reasons, (n = 40): (Housing not an outcome or interven�on [n = 26]; Non-U.S. sample [n = 9]: Not IPV housing [n = 5]) Figure 1. Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis flow diagram. 252 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 22(2) double extracted as a means of checking for continued consis- tency. All instances of double extraction produced consistent findings. Results The 12 reviewed articles were heterogeneous in their methods, samples, and findings. Table 1 provides key information for each of the reviewed studies on the types of housing interven- tions evaluated, study characteristics (e.g., sample size, sample characteristics, research design), and relevant findings. Interventions for Addressing Survivors’ Housing Needs The 12 articles examined various interventions for addressing the housing needs of IPV survivors, including shelter, shelter with additional on-site services, home security measures, tran- sitional housing, rapid rehousing, and flexible funding. Shelter was the most commonly examined service for addressing sur- vivor’s housing needs and examined in half of the 12 studies (Aguirre, 1985; Bennett, Riger, Schewe, Howard, & Wasco, 2004; Berk, Newton, & Berk, 1986; Grossman, Lundy, George, & Crabtree-Nelson, 2010; Perez, Johnson, Johnson, & Walter, 2012; Sullivan & Virden, 2017). Shelter with additional in- shelter services was the main intervention evaluated in two other studies: Of these, one study evaluated shelter with an additional mental health intervention (Johnson, Johnson, Perez, Palmieri, & Zlotnick, 2016) and the other study examined shelter with an on-site clinic (D’Amico & Nelson, 2008). An additional study examined multiple protective interventions used by survivors, including housing-related interventions of shelter and home security measures (Messing, O’Sullivan, Cavanaugh, Webster, & Campbell, 2016). TSH (Cain, Melbin, & Sullivan, 2003), rapid rehousing (Levitt et al., 2013), and flexible funding (Sullivan et al., 2016) were each appraised by one study. Study Characteristics Sample sizes and characteristics. The sample sizes of the reviewed studies ranged from 15 to 819 participants, with an average sample of 329 participants. Most of the studies (n ¼ 8) had samples of more than 100 participants. The manu- scripts reviewed revealed varying amounts of information on sample characteristics, with one study providing no informa- tion on sample characteristics (Aguirre, 1985). The 11 remaining studies provided some information on sample char- acteristics, including that at least 95% of the participants in each of these 11 studies were women. In addition, seven stud- ies included information on participants’ age, most often pro- viding a mean or median between 30 and 40 years (Bennett et al., 2004; Berk et al., 1986; D’Amico & Nelson, 2008; Johnson et al., 2016; Perez et al., 2012; Sullivan et al., 2016; Sullivan & Virden, 2017). Eight studies provided information on participant race/eth- nicity, with three studies reporting a predominantly White sample (Bennett et al., 2004; Berk et al., 1986; Sullivan & Virden, 2017), three indicating a predominantly African Amer- ican or Black sample (Grossman et al., 2010; Johnson et al., 2016; Sullivan et al., 2016), and two studies indicating a pre- dominantly Hispanic sample (Messing et al., 2016; Perez et al., 2012). Only one study described sexual orientation of partici- pants and indicated the majority of the sample was heterosex- ual (90.3%; Perez et al., 2012). Five studies reported the percentage of participants who had children (Berk et al., 1986; Cain et al., 2003; D’Amico & Nelson, 2008; Johnson et al., 2016; Messing et al., 2016). Among these studies, most participants had children, and all participants (N ¼ 55) in the Cain, Melbin, and Sullivan’s (2003) study had children. Four studies described participant marital status, which varied across studies and included participants who were single, married to, or cohabiting with their abuser, and those who were remarried (Grossman et al., 2010; Johnson et al., 2016; Messing et al., 2016; Perez et al., 2012). Six studies included information on the level of education participants had attained, which varied significantly but often exceeded high school completion (Berk et al., 1986; Grossman et al., 2010; Levitt et al., 2013; Messing et al., 2016; Perez et al., 2012; Sullivan & Virden, 2017). Four studies included information regarding the socioeco- nomic status of participants. Berk and colleagues (1986) indi- cated that over 50% of their sample was employed, while Messing and colleagues (2016) indicated 47.6% of their sample was employed. Cain and colleagues’ study (2003) recruited only participants with dependent children who are eligible for temporary assistance for needy families (TANF). Grossman and colleagues (2010) mentioned that 24.8% of their sample received their income from public assistance. Full sample char- acteristics are provided in Table 1. Participant recruitment. Six of the studies recruited participants directly from shelters or transitional housing (Aguirre, 1985; Cain et al., 2003; D’Amico & Nelson, 2008; Grossman et al., 2010; Johnson et al., 2016; Perez et al., 2012). Three studies were secondary analyses of existing state or multistate data consisting of service-seeking survivors of IPV (Bennett et al., 2004; Messing et al., 2016; Sullivan & Virden, 2017). One study identified participants through either their interactions with a shelter or with a prosecutor (Berk et al., 1986). Two of the studies recruited participants who were seeking non- IPV-specific housing services including flexible funding or housing through the Department of Homeless Services (Levitt et al., 2013; Sullivan et al., 2016). Because most of these stud- ies involved service-receiving or service-seeking survivors, information about their IPV experiences was rarely reported beyond an assertion that they were seeking help after experien- cing IPV. Johnson and colleagues (2016) reported that, in the past month, 46.7% of their treatment and 50% of their control groups had experienced psychological abuse, 36.7% in both treatment and control had experienced physical abuse, and no treatment participants and 7% of control participants had expe- rienced sexual abuse. Messing and colleagues (2016) indicated that 64% of their sample had experienced threats, 57% had Klein et al. 253 T a b le 1 . S tu d y C h ar ac te ri st ic s, R e le va n t F in d in gs , an d O u tc o m e s. A u th o r (Y e ar ) S am p le R e se ar ch D e si gn F in d in gs N C h ar ac te ri st ic s In te rv e n ti o n E va lu at e d D e si gn M e th o d O u tc o m e C at e go ry A gu ir re (1 9 8 5 ) 3 1 2 N o n e p ro vi d e d S h e lt e r N o n e x p e ri m e n ta l Q u an ti ta ti ve C ro ss -s e ct io n al N o co m p ar is o n gr o u p S u rv e ys R e la ti o n sh ip T h e gr e at e r th e n u m b e r o f d e ci si o n s su rv iv o rs m ad e in sh e lt e r, th e m o re th e y te n d e d to se p ar at e fr o m ab u se r. S u rv iv o rs w h o sa id sh e lt e r w as ve ry u se fu l h ad a h ig h e r te n d e n cy to re tu rn to ab u se r. B e n n e tt , R ig e r, S ch e w e , H o w ar d , an d W as co (2 0 0 4 ) 6 3 8 M e d ia n ag e 3 3 ye ar s: W h it e 6 4 .4 % , H is p an ic 5 .4 % , B la ck 2 5 .7 % , W o m e n 9 8 % S h e lt e r N o n e x p e ri m e n ta l Q u an ti ta ti ve L o n gi tu d in al (2 ti m e p o in ts ) S u rv e ys M e n ta l h e al th C o u n se lin g O u tc o m e s In d e x af te r- se rv ic e sc o re w as si gn if ic an tl y gr e at e r th an b e fo re -s e rv ic e sc o re . B e rk , N e w to n , an d B e rk (1 9 8 6 ) 2 4 3 M aj o ri ty W h it e sa m p le , so m e H is p an ic < 2 4 ye ar s ¼ 2 5 % , >

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%

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m

p
lo

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d

5
0
%

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n

av
e
ra

ge
,
h
ad

so
m

e
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d
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ca

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o
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b
e
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n
d

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ig

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l

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r

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u
as

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e
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p
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m
e
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ta

l
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u
an

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ta

ti
ve

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o
n
gi

tu
d
in

al
(2

ti
m

e
p
o
in

ts
)

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o

co
m

p
ar

is
o
n

gr
o
u
p

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te

rv
ie

w
s

R
e
vi

ct
im

iz
at

io
n

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u
rv

iv
o
rs

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ib

it
e
d

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lp

-s
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in

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av

io
r

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w

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ic

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t

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ct

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n

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lik

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lih

o
o
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o
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n
e
w

vi
o
le

n
ce

af
te

r
sh

e
lt
e
r.

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h
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lt
e
r

h
ad

n
o

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r

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ti
ve

im
p
ac

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r
th

o
se

w
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d
id

n
o
t

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n
ga

ge
in

h
e
lp


se

e
k
in

g
b
e
h
av

io
r.

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ai

n
,
M

e
lb

in
,

an
d

S
u
lli

va
n

(2
0
0
3
)

5
5

L
im

it
e
d

d
e
m

o
gr

ap
h
ic

s
re

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e
d
.

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ll

w
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n

1
2

in
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cy

sh
e
lt
e
r,

2
0

in
tr

an
si

ti
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n
al

su
p
p
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rt

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e

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si

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g

(T
S
H

),
4

in
T

S
H

in
p
as

t,
1
9

d
ir

e
ct

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rv

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af

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A

ll
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d
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ch
ild

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n

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re

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lig

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le

fo
r

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A

N
F

T
S
H

N
o
n
e
x
p
e
ri

m
e
n
ta

l
Q

u
al

it
at

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e

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ro

ss
-s

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ct

io
n
al

In
te

rv
ie

w
s

H
o
u
si

n
g

st
ab

ili
ty

,
re

la
ti
o
n
sh

ip

T
S
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co
n
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te

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to

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rv

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fe

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e
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se

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rv

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d
ic

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e
y

w
o
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ld

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ac

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e
ir

as
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n
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r

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le

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it
h
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t

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.

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’A

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ic

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ls

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(2
0
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8
)

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5

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ild
re

n
:
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e
s

1
,
9
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an

d
1
4

ye
ar

s
1
2

w
o
m

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n
:
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e
s

2
1

5
2

ye
ar

s
S
h
e
lt
e
r

w
it
h

o
n
-s

it
e

cl
in

ic
N

o
n
e
x
p
e
ri

m
e
n
ta

l
Q

u
al

it
at

iv
e

L
o
n
gi

tu
d
in

al
(4

ti
m

e
p
o
in

ts
)

S
e
co

n
d
ar

y
d
at

a
an

al
ys

is
-M

e
d
ic

al
re

co
rd

d
at

a

S
e
rv

ic
e
s

O
n
-s

it
e

cl
in

ic
se

rv
ic

e
s

in
cr

e
as

e
d

p
o
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sh
e
lt
e
r

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se

o
f
m

e
d
ic

al
an

d
m

e
n
ta

l
h
e
al

th
se

rv
ic

e
s.

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ro

ss
m

an
,

L
u
n
d
y,

G
e
o
rg

e
,
an

d
C

ra
b
tr

e
e

N
e
ls

o
n

(2
0
1
0
)

8
1
9

W
h
it
e

3
8
.2

%
,
A

fr
ic

an
A

m
e
ri

ca
n

4
4
.6

%
,
H

is
p
an

ic
1
0
.7

%
In

co
m

e
fr

o
m

p
u
b
lic

as
si

st
an

ce
2
4
.8

%
E
m

p
lo

ym
e
n
t

in
co

m
e
:
2
7
.1

%
S
in

gl
e

5
1
.5

%
,
m

ar
ri

e
d

3
4
.2

%
L
e
ss

th
an

h
ig

h
sc

h
o
o
l
2
3
%

,
so

m
e

co
lle

ge
o
r

m
o
re

6
7
.9

%
N

o
n
-E

n
gl

is
h

sp
e
ak

e
r

5
.6

%
P
re

gn
an

t
1
1
.3

%
S
p
e
ci

al
n
e
e
d
s

1
1
.7

%

S
h
e
lt
e
r

N
o
n
e
x
p
e
ri

m
e
n
ta

l
Q

u
an

ti
ta

ti
ve

L
o
n
gi

tu
d
in

al
(7

ye
ar

s
o
f

se
rv

ic
e

d
e
liv

e
ry

)

S
e
co

n
d
ar

y
d
at

a
an

al
ys

is
-I

n
fo

rm
at

io
n

n
e
tw

o
rk

d
at

a

S
e
rv

ic
e
s

S
u
rv

iv
o
rs

in
sh

e
lt
e
r

w
e
re

m
o
re

lik
e
ly

to
re

ce
iv

e
n
o
n
h
o
u
si

n
g-

re
la

te
d

se
rv

ic
e
s

th
an

su
rv

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o
rs

w
h
o

d
id

n
o
t

u
se

sh
e
lt
e
r

se
rv

ic
e
s.

(c
o
n
ti
n
u
ed

)

254

T
a
b

le
1
.

(c
o
n
ti
n
u
e
d
)

A
u
th

o
r

(Y
e
ar

)

S
am

p
le

R
e
se

ar
ch

D
e
si

gn

F
in

d
in

gs
N

C
h
ar

ac
te

ri
st

ic
s

In
te

rv
e
n
ti
o
n

E
va

lu
at

e
d

D
e
si

gn
M

e
th

o
d

O
u
tc

o
m

e
C

at
e
go

ry

Jo
h
n
so

n
,

Jo
h
n
so

n
,

P
e
re

z,
P
al

m
ie

ri
,
an

d
Z

lo
tn

ic
k

(2
0
1
6
)

6
0

M
e
an

ag
e

3
3
.3

ye
ar

s
A

fr
ic

an
A

m
e
ri

ca
n

5
6
.7

%
,
W

h
it
e

4
3
.3

%
,
H

is
p
an

ic
6
.7

%
H

ad
ch

ild
re

n
9
8
.3

%
L
iv

in
g

w
it
h
/m

ar
ri

e
d

to
ab

u
se

r
9
3
.3

%

S
h
e
lt
e
r

w
it
h

H
e
lp

in
g

to
O

ve
rc

o
m

e
P
T

S
D

th
ro

u
gh

E
m

p
o
w

e
rm

e
n
t

(H
O

P
E
)

ve
rs

u
s

st
an

d
ar

d
sh

e
lt
e
r

se
rv

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e
s

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C

T
Q

u
an

ti
ta

ti
ve

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o
m

p
ar

is
o
n

gr
o
u
p

L
o
n
gi

tu
d
in

al
(4

ti
m

e
p
o
in

ts
)

S
u
rv

e
ys

M
e
n
ta

l
H

e
al

th
A

t
6
-m

o
n
th

fo
llo

w
-u

p
,
H

O
P
E

p
ar

ti
ci

p
an

ts
w

e
re

si
gn

if
ic

an
tl
y

le
ss

lik
e
ly

to
m

e
e
t

P
T

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D

cr
it
e
ri

a
th

an
th

o
se

w
h
o

re
ce

iv
e
d

sh
e
lt
e
r-

o
n
ly

se
rv

ic
e
s.

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e
vi

tt
e
t

al
.

(2
0
1
3
)

3
3
0

R
e
ce

n
t

e
n
tr

y
to

sh
e
lt
e
r

(< 1 8 0 d ay s) 4 9 % O ld e r e n tr y 5 1 % L e ss th an H S 3 6 .6 % , H S 1 6 .7 % S o m e co lle ge /m o re 4 6 .7 % H o m e to S ta y ra p id re h o u si n g ve rs u s st an d ar d sh e lt e r se rv ic e s M o d if ie d R C T Q u an ti ta ti ve C o m p ar is o n gr o u p C ro ss -s e ct io n al S e co n d ar y d at a an al ys is -D e p ar tm e n t o f H u m an S e rv ic e s d at a H o u si n g st ab ili ty C o m p ar e d w it h st an d ar d sh e lt e r se rv ic e s, H o m e to S ta y d e m o n st ra te d si gn if ic an tl y lo w e r ti m e to e x it fr o m sh e lt e r, lo w e r to ta l d ay s sp e n t in sh e lt e r, h ig h e r ti m e b e fo re re tu rn to sh e lt e r, an d h ig h e r e x it w it h h o u si n g su b si d ie s. M e ss in g, O ’S u lli va n , C av an au gh , W e b st e r, an d C am p b e ll (2 0 1 6 ) 7 5 5 M e an ag e 3 1 .5 ye ar s L at in a 5 7 .6 % , A fr ic an A m e ri ca n 2 6 .2 % H ad ch ild w it h ab u se r 7 6 % S in gl e 4 9 .3 % E m p lo ye d 4 7 .6 % H S o r m o re 6 7 .2 8 % S h e lt e r an d se cu ri ty /s af e ty m e as u re s N o n e x p e ri m e n ta l Q u an ti ta ti ve L o n gi tu d in al (2 ti m e p o in ts ) S e co n d ar y d at a an al ys is -R A V E d at a R e vi ct im iz at io n A t 8 -m o n th fo llo w -u p , w o m e n w h o u se d sh e lt e r w e re 8 8 % le ss lik e ly to e x p e ri e n ce m o d e ra te IP V an d 6 4 % le ss lik e ly to e x p e ri e n ce se ve re IP V th an w o m e n w h o d id n o t go to sh e lt e r. P e re z, Jo h n so n , Jo h n so n , an d W al te r (2 0 1 2 ) 1 0 3 M e an ag e 3 5 .5 ye ar s B la ck 5 2 .4 % , W h it e 3 5 .9 % , H is p an ic 8 .7 % , H e te ro se x u al 9 0 .3 % L e ss th an H S 2 1 .4 % G re at e r th an H S 7 8 .6 % R e ce iv e p u b lic as si st an ce 7 8 .6 % E m p lo ye d 6 6 % L iv e d w it h ab u se r 7 8 .6 % S h e lt e r N o n e x p e ri m e n ta l Q u an ti ta ti ve L o n gi tu d in al (3 ti m e p o in ts ) In te rv ie w s R e vi ct im iz at io n L e n gt h o f sh e lt e r st ay w as in ve rs e ly re la te d to re vi ct im iz at io n . S u lli va n , B o m st a, an d H ac sk ay lo (2 0 1 6 ) 5 3 M e an ag e 3 4 .8 ye ar s (r an ge 2 1 – 5 7 ye ar s) W o m e n 9 6 % , A fr ic an A m e ri ca n , A fr ic an d e sc e n t, o r m u lt ir ac ia l ¼ 9 3 % N o o th e r in fo rm at io n re p o rt e d o n ra ce H ad ch ild re n 8 4 % F le x ib le fu n d in g N o n e x p e ri m e n ta l Q u al it at iv e L o n gi tu d in al (3 ti m e p o in ts ) N o co m p ar is o n gr o u p S e m is tr u ct u re d in te rv ie w s H o u si n g st ab ili ty A t 6 -m o n th fo llo w -u p , 9 4 % o f p ar ti ci p an ts w e re h o u se d . (c o n ti n u ed ) 255 T a b le 1 . (c o n ti n u e d ) A u th o r (Y e ar ) S am p le R e se ar ch D e si gn F in d in gs N C h ar ac te ri st ic s In te rv e n ti o n E va lu at e d D e si gn M e th o d O u tc o m e C at e go ry S u lli va n an d V ir d e n (2 0 1 7 ) 5 6 5 A ge : < 2 5 ye ar s ¼ 2 1 % , 2 5 – 4 9 ¼ 6 9 % , >

5
0
¼

9
%

W
o
m

e
n
:
5
6
3

M
e
n
:
2

W
h
it
e

6
1
%

,
A

fr
ic

an
A

m
e
ri

ca
n
/B

la
ck

1
2
%

,
H

is
p
an

ic
/L

at
in

a
1
0
%

,
N

at
iv

e
A

m
e
ri

ca
n

4
%

,
A

si
an

/P
ac

if
ic

Is
la

n
d
e
r

2
%

,
M

u
lt
ir

ac
ia

l
4
%

,
O

th
e
r

7
%

L
e
ss

th
an

H
S

2
9
%

,H
S

d
ip

lo
m

a/
G

E
D

2
8
%

S
o
m

e
co

lle
ge

3
0
%

,c
o
lle

ge
o
r

h
ig

h
e
r

1
3
%

S
h
e
lt
e
r

N
o
n
e
x
p
e
ri

m
e
n
ta

l
Q

u
an

ti
ta

ti
ve

,
L
o
n
gi

tu
d
in

al
(2

ti
m

e
p
o
in

ts
)

S
e
co

n
d
ar

y
d
at

a
an

al
ys

is
-S

h
e
lt
e
r

d
at

a
fr

o
m

e
ig

h
t

st
at

e
s

S
e
rv

ic
e
s

M
o
st

o
f
th

e
va

ri
an

ce
in

o
u
tc

o
m

e
s

p
re

d
ic

te
d

b
y

th
e

ty
p
e

o
f
h
e
lp

su
rv

iv
o
rs

re
ce

iv
e
d

fr
o
m

th
e

p
ro

gr
am

.
P
re

vi
o
u
s

sh
e
lt
e
r

st
ay

o
r

le
n
gt

h
o
f
st

ay
w

as
n
o
t

a
si

gn
if
ic

an
t

p
re

d
ic

to
r.

N
o
te

.
T

A
N

F
¼

te
m

p
o
ra

ry
as

si
st

an
ce

fo
r

n
e
e
d
y

fa
m

ili
e
s;

H
S
¼

h
ig

h
sc

h
o
o
l;

R
C

T
¼

ra
n
d
o
m

iz
e
d

co
n
tr

o
lle

d
tr

ia
l;

IP
V
¼

in
ti
m

at
e

p
ar

tn
e
r

vi
o
le

n
ce

;
R

A
V

E
¼

R
is

k
A

ss
e
ss

m
e
n
t

V
al

id
at

io
n

S
tu

d
y;

P
T

S
D
¼

p
o
st


tr

au
m

at
ic

st
re

ss
d
is

o
rd

e
r;

G
E
D
¼

G
e
n
e
ra

l
E
d
u
ca

ti
o
n
al

D
e
ve

lo
p
m

e
n
t.

256

experienced stalking, 84% had experienced moderate physical
IPV (e.g., hitting, punching, kicking), and 61% had experi-
enced severe physical IPV (e.g., choking, life-threatening

injuries).

Research design. The reviewed evaluations used a wide variety
of research designs. Nine of the studies were nonexperimental,

and three used experimental or quasi-experimental designs.

Specifically, one used a quasi-experimental design (Berk

et al., 1986) group, one used a modified randomized control

trial (RCT) design (Levitt et al., 2013), and one used a RCT

design (Johnson et al., 2016). Both the modified RCT and the

RCT studies included comparison groups whereas the quasi-

experimental study did not use a comparison group.

Nine studies used quantitative methods, and three were qua-

litative. None of the studies used a mixed-methods approach.

Eight studies analyzed primary data collected through inter-

views (n ¼ 5) or surveys (n ¼ 3). The three qualitative studies
collected data through interviews. Four studies used cross-

sectional data, and nine studies were longitudinal, with data

collection conducted at a range between 2 and 7 time points.

See Table 1 for further details of the study designs.

Outcomes of interest. The studies measured myriad outcomes of
housing interventions. The most salient outcomes explored by

the studies can be divided into five main categories: (a) revic-

timization (n ¼ 3), (b) housing stability (n ¼ 3), (c) services
(n ¼ 3), (d) relationship (n ¼ 2), and (e) mental health (n ¼ 2).
Specific outcomes related to revictimization included number

of instances of abuse, experiences of abuse, and abuse severity.

Housing stability outcomes encompassed current housing sta-

tus and days in shelter. Outcomes related to services included

the likelihood the survivor would seek additional services and

perception of the helpfulness of services. Relationship-related

outcomes comprised current relationship status, times partici-

pant returned to the abusive relationship, and whether the sur-

vivor had left the abusive relationship. Last, mental health

outcomes under study in the reviewed articles included symp-

toms of PTSD and scores obtained using the Counseling Out-

comes Index (Bennett et al., 2004).

Key Findings

Revictimization. Three studies examined the relationship
between shelter services and a survivor’s likelihood of experi-

encing revictimization. Berk and colleagues (1986) examined

the impact of shelter on revictimization but specified that some

survivors demonstrated help-seeking behavior (i.e., outreach to

formal or informal support systems), whereas others did not.

The survivors who exhibited help-seeking behavior reported a

considerable reduction in victimization after shelter, whereas

survivors who did not exhibit help-seeking behavior experi-

enced increased or preshelter levels of victimization after leav-

ing shelter. Messing and colleagues (2016) conducted a

secondary analysis of data from the Risk Assessment Valida-

tion Study to investigate the impact of various interventions,

including shelter, on the severity of IPV as reported by survi-

vors at follow-up. These researchers found at about 8-month

postintervention that, as compared with IPV survivors who did

not go to a shelter, women who had used shelter services were

88% less likely to report having experienced moderate IPV and
64% less likely to report having experienced severe IPV after
leaving the shelter at about 8-month postintervention. Messing

and colleagues’ (2016) findings were consistent with those of

Perez and colleagues (2012), who examined the impact of the

length of shelter stay on revictimization and found the longer a

survivor stayed in shelter, the less likely it was that the survivor

experienced revictimization at 3 or 6 months postshelter fol-

low-up.

Housing stability. Only three of the housing intervention studies
specifically examined housing-related outcomes. Sullivan and

colleagues (2016) investigated the use of flexible funding in

helping survivors gain housing stability. At the 6-month

follow-up after disbursement of funds, Sullivan et al. found

that 94% of participants were housed. Levitt and colleagues
(2013) found that as compared with survivors using standard

shelter services, survivor participants in the Home to Stay

rapid-rehousing program demonstrated significantly lower

time to exit from shelter, longer time before return to shelter,

a greater likelihood of exiting shelter with housing subsidies,

and lower total days spent in shelter. In Cain et al.’s (2003)

interviews with survivors, those who had lived in TSH indi-

cated that if this housing program had not been available, then

they would have been homeless.

Services. Three studies examined how housing interventions
affected use of and satisfaction with additional services (e.g.,

medical care, legal support such as obtaining orders of protec-

tion, and job skills training). D’Amico and Nelson’s (2008)

secondary data analysis of medical records found that when

survivors had access to clinic services provide on-site in the

shelter, they were more likely to use medical and mental health

services after they left shelter. In a secondary data analysis of

service use among survivors in Illinois, Grossman and col-

leagues (2010) discovered that survivors in shelter were more

likely to receive nonhousing services than survivors who had

not used shelter services. Sullivan and Virden (2017) examined

data from shelters in eight states and found that the types of

support survivors received (i.e., safety, information, self-care

and connections, community resources, and services for chil-

dren) predicted several service-related outcomes (i.e., percep-

tion of shelter helpfulness, sense of power, and hopefulness).

At Time 1, survivors specified which kinds of help they needed

from a list of 37 options within five categories. Survivors who

had received this help by time of shelter exit (Time 2) were

more likely to perceive the shelter as helpful, indicate a sense

of personal power, and endorse feeling hopeful about the

future. All three of these studies suggest the potential for a

robust link between shelter services for survivors and other

services that may help ensure survivors’ safety and well-

being. However, Sullivan and Virden (2017) reported that

Klein et al. 257

length of shelter stay (i.e., how long a participant resided in

shelter) was not a significant predictor of service outcomes

(e.g., overall helpfulness of shelter, survivor hopefulness, and

survivor sense of power), indicating that interventions that aim

to connect survivors with information and supportive commu-

nity services might not necessarily need to take place in shelter

and/or occur over a long duration to be helpful.

Relationship. Two of the studies investigated how housing inter-
ventions affected survivors’ relationships including their rela-

tionship status after the intervention and whether the survivors

left their abusive partners. Aguirre (1985) examined survivors’

decision-making during shelter stays and their satisfaction with

shelter services. The more decisions (e.g., obtaining a restrain-

ing order, filing criminal charges, or beginning divorce pro-

ceedings) a survivor made while in shelter, the more likely the

survivor was to separate from the abusive partner. However,

survivors who reported that they found shelter services very

useful had a higher tendency to eventually return to their abu-

sive partners. While Aguirre (1985) mentions that this finding

indicates that shelters do not focus on family separation but on

survivor self-determined decision-making, our review team

found no apparent interpretation of this finding included in the

article. Cain and colleagues (2013) found TSH likely increased

survivor safety by providing a safe housing alternative for sur-

vivors who indicated that, without the program, they would

have returned to their abusive partner.

Mental health. Two studies measured the effects of housing
interventions on mental health outcomes of IPV survivors.

Bennett and colleagues (2004) found that survivors’ postshelter

Counseling Outcomes Index scores were significantly higher

than their scores before receiving shelter-based counseling.

The Counseling Outcomes Index is a reliable scale developed

by Bennett and colleagues (2004) to assess eight areas of well-

being targeted in IPV counseling: support, self-efficacy, cop-

ing, goal setting, information, nonjudgment, safety planning,

personal is political, and respect. Johnson and colleagues

(2016) examined the impact of shelter combined with a group

program called Helping to Overcome PTSD through Empow-

erment (HOPE). At the 6-month postintervention follow-up,

HOPE participants were significantly less likely to meet the

diagnostic criteria for PTSD than those who received shelter-

only services (i.e., usual services).

Discussion

Our goal in conducting this review was to assess and evaluate

the current state of the evidence regarding interventions for

addressing survivors’ housing needs. Specifically, we sought

to determine (a) the interventions from published literature that

are currently available to address IPV survivors’ housing

needs, (b) the strengths and limitations of these interventions,

and (c) the effectiveness of these interventions in meeting the

housing needs of survivors. Given the critical role that housing

plays in the safety and recovery of survivors coupled with the

limited availability of these housing options, it is important to

understand the evidence regarding interventions used to

address the housing-related needs of IPV survivors.

We identified 12 articles that met our inclusion criteria.

Although only a small number of articles met our inclusion

criteria, given the immense public health consequences of IPV

and the widespread use of housing interventions to address

IPV, this review addressed a critical need to provide a timely

inventory of the current evaluation literature. Notably, the

reviewed studies had heterogeneous intervention approaches,

samples, outcomes, and study methods. Critical findings are

summarized in Table 2.

Current Interventions

Remarkably, we located only 12 articles that evaluated housing

interventions for IPV survivors. This review also determined

considerable heterogeneity across the 12 in terms of interven-

tion approaches. Most of the studies investigated traditional

IPV shelter services, with a couple assessing traditional shelter

services that offered additional on-site resources such as clinic

services. We found only single studies that examined nonshel-

ter housing interventions such as TSH, security measures, and

flexible funding. The overall findings from these studies sug-

gest that rapid rehousing and flexible funding appear to be

promising practices for increasing housing stability of IPV

survivors. However, these interventions and studies need to

be replicated and findings further evaluated. Moreover, future

research is now needed to determine the situational and survi-

vor characteristics that promote optimal effectiveness of each

housing strategy.

Strengths and Limitations of Methods to Evaluate
Housing Interventions

This review also determined considerable heterogeneity across

the 12 studies in terms of study foci, designs, and outcomes.

Assessing the overall strengths and limitations of the rigor

among housing interventions studies is challenging given such

diversity. Thus, it is premature to make firm statements

Table 2. Strategies for Addressing IPV Survivor Housing Needs: Crit-
ical Findings.

� Shelter is the most commonly assessed and available housing
intervention for IPV survivors, but only limited empirical
evaluation is available of shelter effectiveness.

� Shelter services would benefit from evaluation studies using
rigorous methods including studies that explore specific
components that lead to positive outcomes for survivors.

� Rapid rehousing and flexible funding appear to be promising
practices for increasing survivor housing stability. However, more
evaluation is needed of these approaches including research to
determine the situational and survivor characteristics that enable
optimal effectiveness of each strategy.

Note. IPV ¼ intimate partner violence; PTSD ¼ post-traumatic stress disorder.

258 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 22(2)

concerning, on the whole, the robustness of housing interven-

tion research for IPV survivors.

In addition, as mentioned in several of the reviewed studies,

IPV interventions, including housing interventions, often cen-

ter on the self-determination of IPV survivors. Thus, the suc-

cess or failure of a housing strategy would need to be assessed

based on each survivor’s self-determined goals and ideas of

safety. This emphasis on self-determination is critical to taking

a trauma-informed approach in developing and delivering

housing interventions. Nonetheless, a focus on survivors’

self-determination may mean that research designs in this area

require varied study methods and outcomes to account for

diversity among survivors’ circumstances, needs, and service

preferences (Sullivan, 2018).

Effectiveness of Current Housing Interventions

As noted above, the study designs and the outcomes used in the

reviewed studies were heterogeneous, making it difficult to

synthesize study findings and/or determine overall housing

strategy effectiveness. Even though shelter is the most com-

monly assessed and available housing intervention for IPV

survivors, this review showed limited empirical evaluation is

available concerning the effectiveness of shelter as a housing

strategy. Given that only three studies used experimental or

quasi-experimental designs (Berk et al., 1986; Johnson et al.,

2016; Levitt et al., 2013), the robustness of the findings from

most of the studies are uncertain. Moreover, the fact that sev-

eral studies evaluated the impact of various housing interven-

tions on mental health, revictimization, service utilization, and

relationship-related outcomes is a reminder of the multidimen-

sional nature of services that many current housing interven-

tions, especially traditional shelter services, are tasked with

providing. Therefore, shelter services would benefit from addi-

tional evaluation using rigorous methods, including studies

investigating how specific program components may be asso-

ciated with positive outcomes for survivors.

Implications

In developing the implications for policy and practice, we

sought to closely tie our recommendations to the study’s find-

ings. Accordingly, we caution readers that given the small

number of studies and their heterogeneity, these implications

for practice and policy should be considered formative and

preliminary. Table 2 also provide a summary of the findings

of this systematic review and the implications.

Implications for practice. Although small, the existing body of
evidence suggests that an IPV survivor’s use of shelter services

(i.e., staying in a safe IPV-focused shelter) can reduce revicti-

mization and PTSD, improve housing stability, and enhance

access to services. Studies in this review found that survivors

who engage in help-seeking behavior and autonomous

decision-making during their shelter stay experienced less

revictimization and were more likely to separate from their

abusers. Accordingly, survivors might benefit when service

providers foster survivors’ self-determination and self-

efficacy over their own service goals and needs. Nonetheless,

future research should investigate what elements of shelter

programs contribute to these outcomes and how specific survi-

vor characteristics might influence this process.

Further, helping survivors to achieve housing and economic

independence involves more than merely providing shelter.

Such independence also includes helping survivors to obtain

affordable housing, employment, and transportation. Survivors

also need options to address housing insecurity beyond emer-

gency shelter. Enhancing survivors’ choices and options as

they seek greater housing security may be key to empowering

survivors after experiencing IPV (Goodman, Smyth, & Ban-

yard, 2010; Goodman et al., 2016). Albeit limited, research

concerning interventions that aim to improve economic

empowerment, economic self-sufficiency, and economic self-

efficacy among IPV survivors using a financial literacy curri-

culum (e.g., mortgages, savings accounts, bonds, stocks and

mutual funds, compound interest, credit and debt, and retire-

ment planning) have had promising results (Postmus, Plummer,

McMahon, & Zurlo, 2013; Sanders, 2014; Sanders & Schnabel,

2006). Other housing-based services may be salient to IPV

survivors’ empowerment given the evidence showing that med-

ical and mental health services provided to survivors while in

shelter can lead to greater engagement with medical and mental

health services once they leave shelter (D’Amico & Nelson,

2008).

Implications for policy. To foster housing security for IPV survi-
vors, policy makers should support innovative initiatives for

organizations that serve survivors. For example, innovative use

of resources, through flexible funding programs, could enable

organizations to provide services that can help survivors

achieve and maintain housing stability. Flexible funding pro-

grams could help survivors meet concrete needs such as furni-

ture or rent deposits, making achieving independence more

feasible initially, and ultimately being more supportive of

long-term survivor housing stability and fiscal autonomy. We

also recommend that policy makers support other innovative

initiatives for IPV survivors, such as rapid rehousing.

Given the importance of federal, state, and community pol-

icies for affordable housing, job opportunities, and living-wage

employment, we call on researchers to work with policy mak-

ers to investigate how housing and economic policies might

influence the housing and well-being of IPV survivors and their

children. In other words, individual-level intervention

approaches do not address larger economic, housing, and struc-

tural issues. For survivors living in communities in which they

do not have access to affordable housing and living-wage

employment opportunities, we speculate that policy interven-

tion may be even more critical than individual-level ones for

helping survivors with securing housing. In particular, policies

tied to issues of IPV (e.g., the Violence Against Women Act)

may be important avenues for creating such benefits. None-

theless, with little available evidence about such policy

Klein et al. 259

impacts, we underscore our call for research on these important

issues.

Implications for research. The studies discussed in this review
provide insight into a variety of different interventions and

housing-related or other outcomes. Still, very few studies have

focused specifically on housing-related outcomes, as indicated

by the inclusion of only 12 articles for this review, only 3 of

which focused on housing outcomes. The overall dearth of

intervention studies focused on survivor housing is striking

given the prevalence of IPV, the critical need for safe, secure

housing among IPV survivors, and the considerable number of

IPV programs that include housing as a program component.

Consequently, we call for increased efforts toward rigorous

evaluation of housing interventions to determine which

approaches are most effective in meeting the complex housing

needs of IPV survivors and their families.

Specifically, research is needed on promising but undere-

valuated practices that promote housing stability outside of

shelter such as flexible funding and rapid rehousing. Additional

and rigorous research is needed (e.g., stronger design features,

advanced statistical methods) to examine the impact of housing

interventions. For instance, longitudinal research is needed to

evaluate long-term effects of housing interventions using meth-

ods such as growth curve modeling that can illuminate

between-person differences in within-person change. We also

underscore our recommendation for policy research here.

For future studies, we encourage IPV researchers to use

experimental or quasi-experimental designs along with robust

statistical methods to enable rigorous evaluation of the housing

program effects. Articles that report effect sizes from housing

interventions studies would be particularly valuable. Valid and

reliable instruments are also needed to measure the effective-

ness of housing interventions and should include outcomes

related to housing permanency, revictimization, interpersonal

connections, financial stability, and mental health symptoms of

survivors and their children. For example, Hoge, Stylianou,

Hetling, and Postmus’s (2017) Scale of Economic Self-

Efficacy could be integrated into housing strategy provision

and follow-up to gauge the impact of these interventions on

survivor economic empowerment. Data concerning the type

and severity of abuse that survivors experience would also help

provide insight as to which types of housing interventions may

benefit survivors with varying experiences of abuse.

Because shelter is such a common housing strategy,

increased evaluation research is needed to provide guidance

on what key ingredients (e.g., location, services, protocols,

screening processes, personnel) constitute effective and quality

shelter services. Researchers should also present the real-world

impacts of their studies, so that key community stakeholders

and practitioners can have a roadmap to operationalize study

implications. Given the high cost of providing shelter services,

financial and feasibility studies of these services are needed.

Further research on the synergy between multiple housing

interventions (e.g., flexible funding, emergency housing, and

security measures) can help communities develop comprehen-

sive approaches to addressing survivor housing needs.

The current research also provides limited information on

the relevance of housing interventions for IPV survivors from

diverse backgrounds. Notably, 4 of the 12 studies we reviewed

did not include information on participant race or ethnicity, and

only 4 studies provided information on participant socioeco-

nomic status. Although anyone can experience IPV victimiza-

tion, research shows that groups of people who have been

disadvantaged and excluded from economic and social oppor-

tunities, such as American Indians, immigrants, people with

disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people

(LGBT), people of color, and those with fewer socioeconomic

resources, as a few examples, have even higher rates of IPV

victimization (Black et al., 2011; Breiding & Armour, 2015;

Halpern, Spriggs, Martin, & Kupper, 2009; Walters, Chen, &

Breiding, 2013). Research also shows that members of disad-

vantaged groups, for example, survivors of color, experience

additional discriminations in their attempts to secure housing

after leaving an abusive relationship and that those living in

poverty may find it especially challenging to secure and sustain

housing (Baker et al., 2010; Phinney, Danziger, Pollack, &

Seefeldt, 2007; Wilson & Laughon, 2015). For all these rea-

sons, we call for research examining the dynamic intersections

of disability, ethnicity and race, immigration, LGBT, poverty,

housing instability, and IPV, especially given at least one

recent study found that race and ethnicity did not predict hous-

ing instability (E. N. Adams et al., 2018). Future research cen-

tering the effectiveness of housing interventions for

disadvantaged groups and actively engaging diverse survivors

in research will provide better information for enhancing and

tailoring such services. Examining and comparing housing

interventions for IPV survivors globally could also provide

novel and replicable models.

Strengths and Limitations of This Review

This review has several limitations that should be taken into

consideration. Although IPV is a pervasive public health prob-

lem for which housing interventions, particularly shelter, are

often provided as a potential solution, only 12 articles met our

inclusion criteria for this review. The dearth of evaluation lit-

erature suggests shelters are using many housing interventions

that have not been formally researched or for which research

findings were not publicly disseminated. Consequently, our

review is representative of only those aspects of shelter that

are specifically housing related and subsequently disseminated.

To continue to provide updated information on the effective-

ness of housing interventions and to maximize the likelihood of

locating hard-to-find articles, future researchers could replicate

the methods in this study, including searches of research data-

bases and websites for gray literature, key words used, and

hand searches.

Moreover, all studies included in this review were con-

ducted in the United States and published in English. We

focused our review on U.S.-based studies given the unique

260 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 22(2)

complexities of the U.S. housing and social service delivery

systems. It is likely that additional studies exist that were con-

ducted outside the United States that would provide insight into

housing-related outcomes for IPV survivors. Although such an

investigation was beyond the scope of this study, we call for

future research to investigate housing programs for IPV survi-

vors and their children globally. In addition, relevant studies

might have been published since July 2017 that were not

included in this review.

We also acknowledge that there is much to learn from the

broader housing intervention literature. However, an investiga-

tion of the housing literature was not the aim of the current

study because we specifically sought to focus on IPV services

for survivors. Thus, we excluded studies that did not specifi-

cally look at housing interventions used with IPV survivors.

Future reviews could take a more general approach and synthe-

size the results from studies for all housing intervention

literature.

Despite these limitations, this review also has several

strengths. First, this review closely adhered to PRISMA guide-

lines and used rigorous methods to identify studies. We

obtained feedback on search strings from a social sciences

librarian prior to conducting our searches. In addition, two

reviewers participated in the title, abstract, and full-text review

to determine eligibility of studies. We used multiple sources to

identify relevant articles, including reference harvesting, Goo-

gle Searches, and searches on national IPV organization web-

sites. Several reviewers independently abstracted data and met

regularly to resolve any discrepancies in abstractions. In addi-

tion to the use of rigorous methods, this review offers a unique

contribution to the IPV literature. To our knowledge, no review

to date has examined housing-related outcomes of IPV housing

interventions, which is a critical issue relevant to the safety and

recovery of survivors. Thus, this review provides a valuable

contribution to the field of IPV research by synthesizing the

current state of the literature on housing-related outcomes for

IPV survivors, by ascertaining promising practices and by iden-

tifying opportunities for future research.

Conclusion

Although most research on IPV survivor housing needs has

focused on emergency shelter, more research is needed to

determine how to best address both survivors’ short- and longer

term housing needs. We call for future research on shelter.

Given the high costs of emergency shelter service delivery,

we also call for research on housing interventions broadly,

including novel practices for IPV survivors and their children,

as well as policy initiatives. Likewise, IPV survivors need a

variety of services, and therefore, it is vital to ensure that hous-

ing alternatives do not eliminate the crisis, life-saving services

often provided through emergency shelter. Increased research

on a diversity of housing interventions will enable communities

to develop and implement a range of practices, policies, and

programs that best meet their community and survivors’ needs.

Implications for Practice

� Shelter might reduce victimization and PTSD, improve
housing stability, and enhance access to services, but it is

unclear how shelter services achieve these outcomes or

which specific survivor shelter services might be most

beneficial to survivor outcomes.

� Comprehensive services are needed to address survivors’
individualized, self-determined goals.

� Economic independence encompasses more than shelter
services and includes affordable housing, employment,

and transportation.

Implications for Policy

� To develop innovative strategies that foster survivor
housing security, policy makers should support rapid-

rehousing initiatives and flexible funding programs for

organizations that serve survivors.

� Given the importance of federal, state, and community
policies for affordable housing, job opportunities, and

living-wage employment, we call on researchers to work

with policy makers to investigate how housing and eco-

nomic policies might influence the housing and well-

being of IPV survivors and their children.

Implications for Research.

� More research is needed on promising but underevalu-
ated practices that promote housing stability outside of

shelter such as flexible funding and rapid rehousing.

� More research is needed on long-term effects of housing
interventions.

� Studies that evaluate specific shelter components and
effects of housing strategies on diverse populations of

survivors are needed to better understand how individual

characteristics influence the effectiveness of housing

programs.

� Studies that incorporate comparison groups of IPV sur-
vivors who do not receive housing interventions are

needed to better evaluate program effects of IPV housing

interventions.

� When possible, future research should report effect sizes
and other indicators of potential “real-world” impact to

help practice and policy decision-making.

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to acknowledge Jennifer O’Brien, Austyn Holleman,

and Addie Humphrey for their contributions to this research and Diane

Wyant for her comments on a draft of this article.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to

the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Klein et al. 261

Funding

The author(s) declared the following potential conflicts of interest

with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this

article: This project is generously supported by a gift from Mrs. Mar-

ilyn Jacobs Preyer and Mr. Rich Preyer.

ORCID iD

L. B. Klein https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3346-9548

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Author Biographies

L. B. Klein, MSW, MPA, is a doctoral student and an adjunct faculty

member at the School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at

Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and a fellow with the Prevention Innovations

Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. Her research

focuses on preventing and responding to gender-based violence and

promoting equity with interests in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,

and queer communities, implementation science, and community par-

ticipatory action research.

Brittney R. Chesworth, MSW, LCSW, is a doctoral student at the

School of Social Work, UNC-CH, where her research focuses on

developing effective treatments for intimate partner violence (IPV)

perpetrators. She is also a licensed clinical social worker with expe-

rience as a child abuse investigator, medical social worker, and coun-

selor for youth and IPV survivors.

Julia R. Howland-Myers, MSW, is a social worker who holds a

master’s of social work and bachelor’s degree in dramatic arts with

minors in creative writing and Arabic from UNC-CH.

Cynthia Fraga Rizo, PhD, MSW, is an assistant professor at the

School of Social Work, UNC-CH. She has worked on a number of

projects investigating gender-based violence including IPV, human

trafficking, and sexual assault. She is currently working on a project

to develop school-based sex trafficking content for students as well as

protocols to identify and connect at-risk youth and victims to commu-

nity services.

Rebecca J. Macy, PhD, MSW, is the L. Richardson Preyer Distin-

guished Chair for Strengthening Families at the School of Social

Work, UNC-CH. She has 15 years’ experience conducting

community-based studies that focus on IPV, sexual violence, and

human trafficking. She has published more than 70 peer-reviewed

articles, book chapters, and invited commentaries on these topics.

264 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 22(2)

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Articles/Kulkarni et al, 2022, Improving Safe Housing Access for Domestic Violence Survivors Through Systems Change

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Improving Safe Housing Access for Domestic
Violence Survivors Through Systems Change

Shanti Joy Kulkarni, Suzanne Marcus, Cristina Cortes, Carielle Escalante,
Leila Wood & Rachel Fusco

To cite this article: Shanti Joy Kulkarni, Suzanne Marcus, Cristina Cortes, Carielle Escalante, Leila
Wood & Rachel Fusco (2021): Improving Safe Housing Access for Domestic Violence Survivors
Through Systems Change, Housing Policy Debate, DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2021.1947865

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Improving Safe Housing Access for Domestic Violence Survivors
Through Systems Change
Shanti Joy Kulkarnia, Suzanne Marcusb, Cristina Cortesc, Carielle Escalanted, Leila Wood e
and Rachel Fuscof

aSchool of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA; bNational Alliance for Safe Housing,
Washington, DC, USA; cLos Angeles Homeless Services Agency, CA, USA; dRainbow Services, Los Angeles, CA, USA;
eThe University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Health Professions, USA; fUniversity of Georgia
School of Social Work, Athens, USA

ABSTRACT
Domestic violence (DV) survivors often encounter serious barriers navigat-
ing between housing and homelessness (H/H), coordinated entry (CE), and
DV service systems to access safe housing. This study examined an innova-
tive program that deployed DV coordinators as systems change agents
liaising between H/H services, DV programs, and CES to increase survivors’
safe housing access. Five listening sessions were conducted using a semi-
structured interview guide to explore key stakeholders’ perspectives about
the potential impact of he DV coordinator program. Transcripts were
thematically coded and then member checked. Primary themes included:
(a) training, consultation, and brokering relationships to advance systems
reforms; (b) adapting to community contexts; and (c) bringing survivors’
voices to funders and policymakers. Cross-sector training was an important
program outcome. However, meaningful systems changes were not likely
to occur through training activities alone. Community partners benefited
from responsive real-time consultation, as well as coaching and support to
address survivors’ needs in a trauma-informed manner. Relationship build-
ing and networking encouraged cross-sector collaborations and creative
pragmatic solutions to complicated survivor needs. Findings underscored
the complementary nature of direct service and systems advocacy and the
importance of having service providers, like DV housing navigators working
parallel with DV systems change advocates.

ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 21 January 2021
Accepted 22 June 2021

KEYWORDS
Domestic violence; safe
housing; systems advocacy

Background

Domestic violence (DV) rates in the United States are alarming, with an estimated 1 in 4 women and 1
and 7 men experiencing severe physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime
(Breiding, Chen, & Black, 2014). Economic abuse and other forms of coercive control frequently
accompany physical violence in ways that heighten vulnerability to homelessness and housing
insecurity (Postmus, Plummer, McMahon, Murshid, & Kim, 2012). Economic abuse encompasses
the many strategies that abusers use to undermine survivors’ resource acquisition and stability
(Adams & Beeble, 2019). Economic abuse tactics may include behaviors that make it difficult for
survivors to hold jobs (e.g., workplace harassment, withholding childcare or transportation), pay bills,
and establish good credit (Sanders, 2015). Domestic violence may also result in damage to rental
units or police calls to respond to violent incidents. As a result, survivors are more likely to experience

CONTACT Shanti Joy Kulkarni skulkar4@uncc.edu

HOUSING POLICY DEBATE
https://doi.org/10.1080/10511482.2021.1947865

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
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eviction, lose security deposits, and incur additional fees, which in turn creates future housing
barriers (Baker, Billhardt, Warren, Rollins, & Glass, 2010).

Individuals experiencing homelessness also report higher rates of DV than the general population,
and in fact DV precipitates homelessness for many women (Jasinski, Wesely, Mustaine, & Wright, 2005).
Despite compelling evidence about the deeply intertwined nature of DV and homelessness, service
delivery systems for DV and homelessness and housing (H/H) have traditionally operated distinctly
from one another (Baker et al., 2010). Consequently, DV survivors who seek services from DV system are
not always able to access housing resources, and survivors who seek services from the homelessness
system may not receive needed support with regard to safety concerns or trauma symptoms (Wilson,
Fauci, & Goodman, 2015). System change reforms are needed within both DV and H/H systems, as well
as at the interfaces between the system. In this study, we examined an innovative program that
deployed DV Coordinators as systems change agents liaising between H/H services, DV programs, and
coordinated entry (CE) systems to increase DV survivors’ access to safe housing.

Importance of Safe Housing for Survivors

Safe affordable housing is important for survivors and their children to achieve healing and
economic self-sufficiency (Clough, Draughon, Njie-Carr, Rollins, & Glass, 2014.). A recent study of low-
income DV survivors found that housing insecurity exacerbated DV-related health and mental health
consequences, including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse
(Daoud et al., 2016). Housing instability, more than DV severity and drug and alcohol use, predicts
PTSD and depression and decreased quality of life for survivors (Rollins et al., 2012). These survivors
reported a myriad of stressors, including financial difficulties, parenting challenges, and on-going
safety concerns. Similarly, a study that followed DV survivors over a 2-year period found stable
housing to be a protective factor associated with better maternal health and child well-being
outcomes (Gilroy, McFarlane, Maddoux, & Sullivan, 2016). Conversely, severity of PTSD symptoms,
younger age, and lower income have been found to be associated with increased risk for housing
instability among female-identified DV survivors (Adams et al., 2018). Survivors face overwhelming
bureaucracy, a lack of available and safe units, and in some cases, re-victimization from service
providers when trying to access housing after DV (Clough et al., 2014).

Long-term housing is a critical need for DV survivors as they seek stability following abuse. Most
DV shelters have limited capacity that seldom meets community demands. These shelters typically
provide time-limited (30–60 days) emergency shelter for those survivors fleeing the most severe
danger (Baker et al., 2010). The lack of DV shelter beds may force survivors to seek shelter in the
homeless system or resort to living in their cars, on the streets, or remaining with their abusers
(Gezinski & Gonzalez-Pons, 2019). In addition, most survivors struggle to find longer-term safe
affordable housing when they exit emergency housing and are again faced with limited options
(Baker et al., 2010). A recent study of 347 survivors exiting DV shelter found those who had more
advocacy and counseling sessions, and received more housing information, were less likely to exit
into general homelessness system (Stylianou & Pich, 2019).

Beyond shelter, there are innovative and evidence-based housing relief and homelessness pre-
vention approaches for survivors of DV that span site-based transitional housing to direct cash relief,
or flexible funding. DV housing beyond shelter includes voucher-based rapid rehousing and project
based and scattered site transitional housing, though most of these programs have yet to be
rigorously evaluated (Klein, Chesworth, Howland-Myers, Rizo, & Macy, 2019). Domestic violence
transitional housing (DVTH) is a time limited program approach for those needing additional
supportive services (Clark, Wood, & Sullivan, 2018). Low-barrier housing interventions, such as DV
Housing First, are also showing promising results toward increasing stability, safety, and well-being
for DV survivors and their families (Mbilinyi, 2015; Sullivan & Olsen, 2016). DV Housing First adopts
the homelessness service delivery approach of offering housing first (often through vouchers similar
to rapid rehousing) in order to establish family stability and then offering an array of wrap-around

2 S. J. KULKARNI ET AL.

voluntary services to ensure that other needs are met. Homeless prevention strategies, where
survivors can maintain safety in their current housing when provided with key supports, are also
emerging. For example, direct cash assistance through the use of flexible funding was found to be
successful in preventing homelessness in 94% of the pilot group of 55 participants (Sullivan, Bomsta,
& Hacskaylo, 2019).

Bridging Separate DV and Homelessness Service Delivery Systems

Homeless services vary widely by community in terms of the range of housing resources offered
(Padgett, Henwood, & Tsemberis, 2016). Historically these services have been provided by
a spectrum of programs with various criteria, population focus, and service philosophies. As
a result, access to homelessness services was often unequal especially for the most vulnerable
populations (Balagot, Lemus, Hartrick, Kohler, & Lindsay, 2019). Several policy projections in both
the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid
Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH) have increased housing protections for DV survivors, including
prohibitions on DV-related evictions, confidentiality protections, creation of new confidentiality
policies, and bolster voucher and transitional programming (Keefe & Hahn, 2021). Over the past
two decades, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has forwarded guidelines
designed to improve access and integrate community response across homelessness service pro-
grams. In 2018, HUD enacted the Coordinated Entry (CE) system as an additional funding require-
ment (Housing and Urban Development, 2017). The purpose of CES is to create a “consistent,
standardized, and efficient intake and referral process for individuals and households who are
experiencing homelessness” (U.S. Department of 2015). CES are thus becoming the centralized
access points where homeless individuals and families are seeking housing resources in most
communities.

CE utilizes the federally mandated Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) database
as a means to streamline access to housing resources, including emergency shelter, transitional
housing, rapid rehousing, and permanent supportive housing. HMIS databases include identifying
information, which due to their public nature poses potential safety risks for DV survivors (Kofman &
Marcus, 2018). In fact, DV service providers are prohibited from entering personally identifying DV
survivor data by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Family Violence Prevention and
Services Act (FVPSA), and McKinney-Vento Act. Unfortunately, these legislated protections can also
undermine DV survivors’ access to needed housing resources without thoughtful planning and
coordination (Kofman & Marcus, 2018).

DV shelter services have not traditionally been funded by HUD, often exist outside the CE, and
have different philosophical roots and priorities compared with H/H programs. DV emergency
shelters were historically designed to address the needs of survivors fleeing severe violence and
more recently have begun to focus on longer term needs (Stylianou & Pich, 2019). DV service
providers offer expertise in safety planning, managing trauma symptoms, and domestic violence
advocacy. DV programs have only recently begun to develop knowledge about housing resources
and systems. Survivors often face specific housing barriers associated with their DV experiences and
require support as they transition toward longer term housing (Clark et al., 2018; Stylianou & Pich,
2019).

Emerging innovation from the field can advance our knowledge and increase DV survivors’ access
to safe housing and trauma-informed care regardless of their pathways into services. In particular,
the 2017 National Safe Housing Needs Assessment recommended colocation arrangements
between DV and H/H program staff to better assist survivors with their housing needs (Kofman &
Marcus, 2018). The report noted that although these arrangements were still fairly rare, programs
that did engage in colocation overwhelmingly rated these services as being helpful for survivors in
addition to cross-sector training on DV, H/H, and CES. Since the publication of the report, more
communities have begun to implement colocation models as a means to bridge DV and H/H services

HOUSING POLICY DEBATE 3

for survivors. The primary aim of this study was to assess key stakeholders’ perceptions about the
potential impact of an innovative colocation program on DV, H/H, and CE services and systems
coordination in a major U.S. city.

Method

Program Description

This study explored key stakeholder perceptions about the potential impact of the Los Angeles DV
Regional Coordinator co-location pilot program. This program was launched as “an ongoing initia-
tive to identify, align, and implement solutions for preventing and ending homelessness for survivors
of teen domestic violence, domestic violence (DV), sexual assault, and human trafficking”1 (LAHSA,
2018, p. 1). In 2016, the Los Angeles Domestic Violence & Homeless Services Coalition was formed by
leadership from both the DV and H/H service organizations (https://downtownwomenscenter.org/
dvhsc/). The coalition was established to improve DV survivors’ access to housing and supportive
services through a more integrated, trauma-informed system of care. Contemporaneously, the Los
Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a spending plan for “Measure H” funds (revenue from
local sales tax increase dedicated to combatting homelessness) that included the creation of eight
new DV Coordinator staff positions focused solely on system change efforts to enhance coordination
between H/H, Coordinated Entry (CE) system, and DV/Sexual Assault (SA)/Human Trafficking (HT)
system service providers. Each of the eight DV Coordinators was assigned to serve a distinct
geographic region and function as primary liaison between DV/SA/HT agencies with the goal of
improving survivors’ access to violence-specific and H/H resources (see Figure 1). Coordinators also
identified opportunities to make the CES process more trauma-informed. Funding was awarded to
H/H organizations through block grants (that included funding to create and operate a CES access
center for families, interim and permanent housing resources, matching, and coordination among
other homeless service providers), however, it was up to the discretion of the H/H organization to
either keep the coordinator position in-house, or subcontract it out to a DV partner. Although not all
regional service planning areas (SPAs) subcontracted the positions out, some did work with their DV
providers to identify candidates. These implementation differences were largely due to service
delivery context within each SPA. Some SPAs already had strong relationships between H/H and
DV agencies, which allowed for those Coordinators to begin co-location sooner than others. Some
Coordinators were tasked to identify potential partners and begin to build those relationships, which
often delayed the Coordinator’s ability to colocate. In other areas, some H/H agencies indicated they
did not need for the Coordinator to be physically onsite, but would prefer to reach out to the
coordinator as needed.

At the time of data collection, DV Coordinators had been assigned to seven of eight distinct
geographic service areas in the county. Each geographic area was served by a centralized CES access
point for individuals, families, and transition-aged adults. Though engaged in similar activities, each
Coordinator functioned differently within their specific county service area. For example, some DV
Coordinators were employed by DV organizations whereas others were employed by H/H organiza-
tions. Some Coordinators spent most of their time working from one location, although others
moved between multiple locations throughout the week. DV Coordinators varied with regard to
their previous social service experience and educations (e.g., social work, paralegal); however, all
possessed significant DV knowledge and subscribed to survivor-centered, trauma-informed service
philosophies of care typically used in DV services (Kulkarni, 2019). As a group, the DV coordinators
represented similar racial and ethnic diversity to the communities they served. DV Coordinators
offered cross-sector training, service provider consultation, and policy advocacy to advance systems
improvements within and between DV, H/H and CES (See Figure 1).

4 S. J. KULKARNI ET AL.

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HOUSING POLICY DEBATE 5

Study Design

A mixed method approach was selected in response to the main research question: What were key
stakeholders’ perceptions about the potential impact of the DV Coordinator program on DV, H/H, and
CES? Mixed methods were utilized in two phases (Creswell & Clark, 2017). First a preliminary survey
allowed researchers to understand how community partners viewed and interacted with the DV
Coordinator program. Then researchers followed up with listening sessions with key stakeholders to
understand these interactions and their potential impact in greater detail. Using multiple methods
(surveys, listening sessions) allowed researchers to better understand service provider context
through the perspectives of community partner using surveys and regional site based listening
sessions; while simultaneously examining the more central experiences of DV regional Coordinators
in separate listening sessions. Initial community partner survey data informed on-site qualitative data
collection, specifically around listening session interview questions and prompts. Although study
findings largely rely upon qualitative listening session data, survey data provided useful program
description information and allowed for some degree of triangulation for aspects of the qualitative
data analysis.

Data Collection and Analysis

Community Partner Web Survey
Prior to site visits, a brief web survey was disseminated by DV Coordinators to the community
partners and organizations who they worked with across H/H, CE, and DV systems. The survey
invitations were broadly distributed by members of DVHS coalition and DV Coordinators to
a convenience sample of their colleagues within the local DV and H/H service systems (as part
of a broader evaluation). Fifty-four total responses were received; however, only data from the
28 respondents who reported working directly with DV Coordinators were analyzed for this
study. The survey included questions about the perception of DV within the homeless popula-
tion, training needs, and experiences working with the DV regional Coordinators and DVHS
coalition.

Fifty-four survey responses were received between 11/29 and 12/30/19. Of these responses, 28
community partners reported working directly with DV regional Coordinators. Almost two-thirds of
this subsample (64%/ n = 18) worked in the H/H system and 14% (4) worked in the DV service system,
with 21% (6) of responses unknown. Survey participants were asked to rate the frequency of their
interactions with DV Coordinators (very often, often, sometimes, rarely, or never) and their level of
knowledge since working with the DV Coordinator (much more knowledgeable, somewhat more
knowledgeable, slightly more knowledgeable, or the same knowledge). Group differences were
examined using chi square analysis to assess for potential differences related to the level of
community partner engagement with the DV Coordinator program.

Listening Sessions. Qualitative data was gathered during five listening sessions. Semistructured
interview guides included questions about DV Coordinator roles/activities, program successes/chal-
lenges, and examples of impact. Three site-based community partner listening sessions (n = 43) were
conducted in culturally and geographically unique regions. These groups were attended by represen-
tatives of DV, H/H, and CE service sectors who worked closely with the DV Coordinators assigned to
their geographic region. These listening session participants included DV advocates and shelter staff,
H/H case managers, and CE assessors and housing matchers. Two separate (initial and follow-up)
listening sessions were conducted with DV Coordinators (n = 6). Two research team members
conducted the listening sessions on-site over a two-day period. This study was approved by the
University of North Carolina at Charlotte institutional review committee and all participants provided
informed consent.

6 S. J. KULKARNI ET AL.

Listening sessions were digitally recorded and professionally transcribed then checked for accu-
racy. A modified constructivist grounded theory method was utilized in order identify themes about
program processes and impact (Charmaz, 2014). Transcripts were reviewed by both facilitators who
agreed on preliminary thematic codes related to program implementation and impact. The primary
author used NVivo software to code all transcripts line by line. Initial thematic findings were
summarized and presented to DV Coordinators and other key informants during a virtual listening
session for additional feedback and member checking. Feedback from the member check session
was incorporated into findings and increased rigor and allowed for deeper interpretation of the data.
Selected survey data findings also allowed for data triangulation. Pseudonyms were utilized to de-
identify transcripts and some participant quotes were edited for clarity.

Findings

Three overarching themes were identified in the analysis: 1) DV, H/H, and CES improvements were
achieved through education and relationships; 2) DV Coordinators interfaced with community partners
in ways that were responsive to unique needs, contexts of their regions, and their understanding of
systems advocacy; and 3) DV Coordinator program strengthened survivor-centered advocacy with
funders and policy makers. Each theme is explored in greater detail with illustrative quotes and
supporting examples below.

Theme 1: DV, H/H, and CES Improvements Were Achieved Through Education and
Relationships

DV Coordinators emphasized the importance of their roles as systems change agents rather than
direct service providers. All DV Coordinators provided training, consultation, and brokering relation-
ships to facilitate safe housing for DV survivors. These efforts appeared to result in DV, H/H, and CES
improvements resulting from three reinforcing activities: 1) educating and correcting service provi-
ders’ misperceptions; 2) enhancing DV, H/H, and CES coordination; and 3) changing DV, H/H, and CE
service providers’ practices.

Educating Service Providers
Community partner survey responses indicated the most valuable DV coordinator trainings were
those that focused on building service providers’ knowledge and skills in helping survivors to access
safe housing. Specifically, many community partners valued learning more about the CES. As one
respondent noted: “I think the most effective trainings have been ones that can help the community
and direct line staff at local levels understand the purpose and benefits of CES in context with the
work being done at the county level.” Training formats ranged from large group to small group and
even one-on-one sessions. Some trainings were attended by representatives from multiple systems
while other trainings were program specific. Ongoing training was necessary due to frequent staff
turnover within all systems.

A majority of DV Coordinator time was spent providing consultation with service providers
around specific concerns and cases. While training provided foundational knowledge and skills,
consultation helped service providers actually apply this knowledge in their work. One community
partner described how challenging it was to appreciate the “nuances” of DV relationships like
“emotional or financial abuse” after only introductory training. Similarly, a DV Coordinator elaborated
on how consultation was needed to ensure that initial training was successful.

There are enough resources out there where if somebody were looking, you can find books and articles to get
the DV 101 (but) there’s a layer of interpretation that’s also needed–what does that look like in action if
somebody walks into your homeless services agency and discloses that they had experienced this. (Lin, DV
Coordinator)

HOUSING POLICY DEBATE 7

The importance of consultation in increasing service provider knowledge was also evident in
community partner survey results. The vast majority of community partners (91%) who consulted
with their DV Coordinator often or very often reported being much more knowledgeable about DV. In
contrast, only 53% of community partners who rarely or never consulted with DV Coordinators
reported the same level of knowledge (Chi-square statistic = 4.414; p value = .036).

Enhancing System Coordination
DV Coordinators helped to advance systems coordination to improve survivor access and care.
Though service providers were equipped with increased knowledge about the practical and philo-
sophical differences between DV, H/H, and C/E systems, they still faced challenges navigating
disconnected systems to address survivors’ housing needs. For example, the lack of centralized
access for DV services was frequent challenge for survivors seeking housing. According to one H/H
community partner (Dave), DV services were “not uniform at all, it makes it extremely difficult to
refer, connect, collaborate, because they’re not, they don’t function the same way across the board.
That’s challenging.” Because DV organizations varied greatly in terms of their entrance criteria and
processes, community partners often had misconceptions, such as a housing navigator incorrectly
stating “all DV shelters require the police report or the DV restraining order.” The DV Coordinator
working with the navigator highlighted the importance of:

clarifying just how the process works, so it’s not everyone feeling, they’re just screaming into the void of “why
can’t they just do that?” It’s “Let me explain a little bit about what the procedure is and maybe why they’re asking
some really odd questions.” Because DV shelters, again, it’s all about confidentiality. You want to make sure that
this is a safe area so that’s why we’re asking all kinds of questions about where the abusive partner lives, works,
and goes to hang out, or has friends and what is their commute? What kind of work do they do? Are they in an
office, are they driving all over the place? We’re asking you about custody issues because is this the kind of
person who will try to get the survivor busted for child kidnapping? Are there custody claims before you . . .
Things that you need to be resolved before you cross county lines. And without that context, “Why are you
asking all these invasive questions? I just want to know if you have shelter.” Lin, DV Coordinator)

Thus, DV survivors seeking emergency shelter might have to share the details of their story over
multiple intakes with different DV shelters, which was a process that could be retraumatizing as well
as discouraging. Some community partners noted philosophical differences among DV service
providers did not always align with the espoused Housing First philosophy adopted by most H/H
service providers. While Housing First programs are intentionally designed to be low barrier, DV
emergency shelter tend to be smaller in size (as compared with the homeless shelter system) with
beds reserved for survivors in the most lethal situations. According to one community partner,
coordinating across systems required understanding and overcoming philosophical tensions, parti-
cularly around issues of access and safety.

We still have our kinks to work out in terms of service philosophies; it’s just a little bit different. It’s DV nudging us
over to this side, it is homeless services nudging them over to this side so we can figure out where our equal
footing is. Mary, H/H community partner

DV Coordinators leveraged their community partner relationships to facilitate direct service provider
linkages across programs and systems. One DV Coordinator defined this work as “network weaving”

I don’t want to just be the hub of all connections . . . maybe it needs to be me first because I am attending these
other meetings in the community. Okay, let’s talk about DV services in general. Let’s talk about my agency
services in particular, how you might refer somebody to us. Also, I want you to meet my buddy. Here’s somebody
from our direct services team who would be available if you were to call our hotline, if you want to come to our
community center . . . Let me know how we can support you, how we might be able to be a resource, but also I’m
connecting people to each other: ‘You mentioned this, here’s another agency that provides a resource that
might be helpful.’ or ‘You two are working on a lot of the same things. That’s really exciting and I want you to
know about each other.’ Lin, DV Coordinator

8 S. J. KULKARNI ET AL.

According to one DV Coordinator (Brittany), one of the “most valuable things” in her position was the
ability to consult with other Coordinators to bounce off solutions with each other and offer support
when facing challenges. DV Coordinators noted that having one supervisor over the entire program
allowed them to address identified problems at a broader systems level without focusing on
individual organizations’ practices.

Changing Service Providers’ Practices
DV Coordinators described their efforts as supporting DV, H/H and CE service providers in shifting to
new practice changes that better supported survivors’ access to safe housing.

It’s just teaching them (DV and H/H service providers) how to advocate and letting them know, I can follow up if
something doesn’t pan out, if there’s no timely response, but that’s not something that I (do). You still have to
continuously share the information because I’m not meeting with the participants . . . just teaching (community
partners) how to navigate the system. (Kari, DV Coordinator)

DV Coordinators were able to improve survivors’ confidentiality and safety within HMIS using
training and consultation to change H/H and CE service providers’ practices. One DV Coordinator
described how her consultation with service providers increased the likelihood that DV survivors
were able to make informed choices about having their data entered into HMIS.

People are not properly educating survivors on the amount of information that’s going to be entered on there
and the risks that they’re actually taking and that they won’t be denied services because they’re not signing that
consent form. It’s a lot of education. Sometimes DV isn’t disclosed at front, it’s disclosed afterwards and (housing
navigators) will come to me and ask, ‘Well my client just disclosed that they’re a domestic violence survivor and
we’re looking for those resources.’ One of the first things that I ask, ‘Did you ask them if they still want to be on
clarity HMIS?’ And a lot of the times it’s, ‘No.’ And I’m, ‘Okay, well that should be your very first question, and you
need to let them know that once they are housed, their address is going to be there and that all of these
agencies will have access to their address.’ Maura, DV Coordinator

Another DV Coordinator developed a more trauma-informed pathway for survivors entering the
regional CES to which she was assigned. The Coordinator facilitated training for several local direct
service DV advocates to administer the Vulnerability Index—Service Prioritization Decision
Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) for survivors seeking housing within that family CES. The VI-SPDAT
score is used to prioritize the most vulnerable homeless individuals and families for housing.
Those with higher scores are ranked as in greater need for immediate housing. The DV
Coordinator observed that CE assessors with heavy caseloads were rarely able to spend the amount
of time required to conduct a trauma-informed assessment with DV survivors. As a result, survivors
often ended up with lower scores when their assessment interviews were rushed and therefore not
prioritized for certain housing resources. When DV advocates completed the assessments, survivors
appeared to receive more accurate prioritization scores.

Historically, survivors don’t score very well so we tried the system . . . where maybe once every so often if other
(DV) agencies in the area gathered enough people that they thought would score relatively high, that she
(trained DV advocate) would go in and do the VISPDAT for them. And then we would send it the VI-SPDAT, along
with the referral to the authority at our family system. And so that way they would already have that information.
So that was something that our county service area agreed to do, and our family CES agreed to do. Kari, DV
Coordinator

Theme 2: DV Coordinators Interfaced With Community Partners in Ways That Were
Responsive to Unique Needs, Contexts of Their Regions, and Their Understanding of Systems
Advocacy

DV Coordinators often needed specific cultural competencies to respond to the unique demographic
variations across their regional service areas (particularly in terms of racial-ethnic background,
language, age, and rurality). The local service delivery landscape and the adequacy of local resources

HOUSING POLICY DEBATE 9

also differed by county service area. For example, some service areas had a primary DV organization
while others had many smaller or culturally-specific DV organizations serving the same geographic
area. Some regions utilized a “one-stop” shop service model where different nonprofits were co-
located at a common site. Co-located sites were often highly collaborative with their site-based
partners and less collaborative with organizations that fell outside of the formal collaboration.

Some regional service areas reported positive cross-sector collaborations between DV and H/H
service providers prior to the DV Coordinator program implementation, while others did not. Though
some level of collaboration existed in all regions, collaborative arrangements varied greatly—from
mandated standing committees and task forces to informal working relationships to collocated
service models. When collaborations existed, Coordinators built upon these foundations. For exam-
ple, one region had a dedicated DV housing navigator contracted from a DV organization partner
who was already co-located at the family CE site several days during the week. The DV housing
navigator provided direct services to survivors within the H/H system, such as case management,
consultation, and resources. This arrangement allowed the DV Coordinator to focus efforts more
purposefully on identifying emerging issues and challenges for survivors seeking housing resources.
The DV Coordinator (Kari) described her relationship with the DV housing navigator in the following
manner: “the co-located navigator is great because she does direct service . . . we check in regularly
about, ‘hey, what are the . . . problems that you’re seeing?’ she gives me regular updates.”

Because the system change agent role was unique within DV, H/H, and CES, DV Coordinators had
to continuously and deliberately clarify their roles even when working with the organizations that
employed them. Communication was bi-directional as DV Coordinators brought important informa-
tion about advocacy priorities, policy updates, and funding opportunities back to their community
partners. This information allowed programs to be more engaged and ideally increase resources
available to meet survivors’ needs. For example, a DV Coordinator (Laura) who was hired from
a direct service position frequently found herself “getting pulled back” into her previous duties,
“especially since they didn’t hire to replace my old position.” Another region’s DV Coordinator faced
similar barriers that prevented her from focusing on systems advocacy work. A community partner
from that region (James) noted the DV Coordinator tended to engage in direct service activities with
survivors rather than “creating that education throughout the community.” The DV Coordinator (Jane)
believed that community partners continued to seek her out because: “I’m known within my agency
very well, and people have come to depend on coming to (me) for help, whatever the case may be.”

Theme 3: The DV Coordinator Program Strengthened Survivor-Centered Advocacy With
Funders and Policy Makers

Coordinators reported spending the least amount of time providing direct services for survivors;
however, stated in the listening sessions that engaging in some direct services activities was very
helpful in keeping them abreast of survivors’ evolving needs. The Coordinators had a unique vantage
point for understanding survivors’ successes and challenges in accessing safe housing across all
three systems. According to one DV Coordinator (Jane): providing direct services to survivors is “not
the bulk of my time, but I still want to stay involved because that’s how you can also keep that finger on
the pulse.” Because the DV Coordinators worked collaboratively with each other, they were able to
provide support, share learning, creatively problem-solve, and more broadly understand the com-
monalities and diverse experiences of survivors across communities. DV Coordinators utilized their
team members’ unique strengths and perspectives to be more effective on behalf of survivors. As
one DV Coordinator who was newer to the policy aspect of her position noted:

. . . it was also helpful to have this group of other Coordinators because (they) are pros when it comes to policy
advocacy . . . hearing about what’s happening in other parts of the County. And we had different areas that we
were maybe more focused on as a nature of what our agencies were doing . . . so it was very informative just in
hearing updates on what’s happening out there. Lin, DV Coordinator

10 S. J. KULKARNI ET AL.

DV Coordinators have been able influence policy at multiple levels. The program was able to
implement new program practice policies that better supported DV survivors, such as the previously
described trauma-informed prioritization process where DV advocates were trained to administer
the VI-SPDAT. Coordinators were also able to persuade a privately funded DV shelter to remove the
requirement that survivors have a restraining order to be served. This policy change would increase
DV shelter access for survivors seeking services through H/H systems who are less likely to have
restraining orders. DV Coordinators also serve as members of local policy making bodies, including
the CE Policy Council, where they highlight the unique experiences of DV survivors, and a regional
DV service provider policy group, where they represent the experiences of survivors who are
homeless.

Importantly DV Coordinators represented survivors’ experiences and needs in new arenas.

Our directors are saying they would like us to do a lot of policy work, because there’s really not a voice from
survivors at these meetings. Right? So, completely honest, I felt very alone . . . it was really nice to have this group
when I started to see them at more meetings it was not just me, it was just okay, we have more of a consensus.
Letting people know, ‘okay, so now we have these meetings. I can’t make it, can you make it?’ We want
somebody from the community able to make it so that we can have a voice there. I think it’s really lifted up
survivor voice in that sense whether it comes to funding, whether it comes to policymaking, how procedures are
being set up, when we have that, I think it’s important. Kari, DV Coordinator

The DV Coordinator program also highlighted survivors’ voices within their training offerings to help
service providers understand the impact of systems on individuals. DV Coordinators noted the
impact that hearing more directly from survivors as cotrainers or through survivor videos or direct
quotes that the coordinators used had on trainees. Coordinators felt that survivors’ voices served to
authenticate the training information that were being communicated. According to one DV
Coordinator (Kari), survivors appreciated sharing their stories in a way that could be used to change
services and found this less re-traumatizing than sharing their stories for more general educational
purposes.

Discussion/Implications

Study findings can guide the other communities to strengthen their own cross-sector collaboration
efforts. The primary potential outcomes of the DV Coordinator program, as identified through mixed
methods data collection, were education, culturally and locally specific knowledge, and bring
survivor-centered perspectives to local policy and practices. Results suggest the DV Coordinator
program holds promise in reducing silos between DV and homelessness services and addressing
survivor needs more readily through policy change and by “weaving a network” of trauma-informed
services. Cross-sector training leading to systems change was an important outcome of the program.
H/H and CE service providers benefited from increased knowledge of DV relationship dynamics,
safety planning, trauma-informed practices, and DV services. Likewise, DV service providers appre-
ciated increasing their understanding of H/H and CE policies, programs, and processes. However, the
DV Coordinator program suggests that meaningful systems changes were not likely to occur through
training activities alone. Even with increased knowledge, service providers benefited from additional
coaching and support to address survivors’ needs in a trauma-informed manner. Though training
was an important first step, institutionalizing new practices seemed to require responsive real-time
consultation that the DV Coordinators were able to provide. The relationships DV Coordinators
facilitated through training, consultation, and “network weaving” also seemed to encourage more
robust cross-sector collaborations. These relationships proved especially valuable as Coordinators
and their community partners sought creative and pragmatic solutions to the complicated needs of
survivors seeking safe housing. Although not stated explicitly, trusting relationships between those
working in DV, H/H, and CES seem to strengthen over time and experiences of working together.
System advocacy was central for the DV Coordinator in their individual roles and as a program. DV
advocacy has historically valued systems change work as an essential advocacy activity, which aims

HOUSING POLICY DEBATE 11

to “improve institutional responses (policies, rules, and laws) that determine how services are
provided and how resources are distributed” (Sullivan & Goodman, 2019, p. 3).

As systems change agents, DV Coordinators integrated themselves into the unique service
contexts of the geographic regions they served. Coordinators utilized specific relational skills,
advocacy strategies, and content expertise in all their activities. Importantly, it was valuable for
system change agents, such as the DV Coordinators, to represent the cultural/racial diversity of the
populations they served or at least to be able to effectively access the cultural knowledge needed to
understand diverse survivors’ needs. Organizations seeking to replicate this model should take into
account relational skills and cultural responsiveness when making hiring decisions for similar posi-
tions (Sullivan & Goodman, 2019). Given that DV Coordinators must work so closely with partner
organizations, it may be useful to involve key partners in the planning and implementation of these
programs (Kulkarni, 2019).

Although DV Coordinators performed some level of direct service, their success in changing
systems relied on protecting their primary role as being focused on higher level systems reforms. DV
Coordinators had a much more difficult time maintaining a system focus when staffing and resource
allocation was strained, especially with regard to DV services. In situations where community partner
DV advocates were not able to directly assist with survivors who were identified in H/H or CES,
Coordinators were often pressured to fill direct service gaps. Alternately, when community partner
DV organizations were able to provide direct support for survivors seeking housing, Coordinators
were able to focus on systems-level rather than individual solutions. These findings underscore the
complementary nature of direct service and systems advocacy and the importance of having service
providers, such as DV housing navigators working parallel with DV systems change advocates. These
findings highlight the importance of insuring that DV, H/H, and CES are adequately resourced to
meet clients’ needs (Sullivan, 2018). DV Coordinators played a unique role as systems change agents
when freed from the obligations of direct client services.

DV Coordinators spent much of their time listening to DV, H/H, and CES service providers discuss
challenges, successes, and insights into the safe housing barriers that survivors encounter. Therefore,
Coordinators brought unique multi-layered perspectives to safe housing issues that were also deeply
rooted in survivors’ lived experiences. Coordinators shared their nuanced understanding by citing
specific examples of survivors’ experiences in ways that positively influenced policy makers and
funders. Survivors’ voices were also highlighted in the trainings that DV Coordinators provided as
another means to ensure that their efforts were survivor-centered. As a field, DV services historically
and currently seek to center services more closely to survivors’ needs (Goodman & Epstein, 2008;
Kulkarni, 2019). The DV Coordinator model has created a useful conduit to allow survivors’ experi-
ences to meaningfully influence policy at multiple levels.

Nationally, the current housing policy context is a driving impetus for improved cross-sector
collaboration to better meet the housing needs of survivors of violence. For example, HUD -funded
CES are mandated to have policies and procedures in place to ensure that people fleeing violence
have safe and confidential access to the CE process, as well as to victim services (Housing and Urban
Development, 2015). HUD has also been requiring increased DV program participation in community
wide housing continuum of care programs. In 2018, HUD earmarked $50 million for DV Rapid
Rehousing funding (National Network to End Domestic Violence, 2020). At the same time, DV service
programs are searching for new responses to address survivors’ housing needs in the face of sharp
declines in affordable housing options throughout the country (particularly in rapidly gentrifying
communities) that limit survivors’ long-term safe housing choices and tax the limits of emergency
shelter programs designed to be temporary. As DV program services evolve to support promising
new models such as DV Housing First and RRH, they are engaging with new community partners and
stakeholders. Early evaluations suggest that systems-based advocacy and capacity building, includ-
ing work with landlords and other social service agencies, was essential to DV housing first program
success and survivor stability (Thomas, Ward-Lasher, Kappas, & Messing, 2021). Within this landscape,

12 S. J. KULKARNI ET AL.

the DV Coordinator program offers important lessons about an innovative, cross-sector systems
change model.

Limitations

Findings should be considered in light of some limitations. This study involved a small sample in one
pilot program in a large U.S. city. Therefore, the findings are situated within that context and may not
be generalizable to other geographic settings. Although facilitators made efforts to solicit varying
opinions within the listening sessions, it is possible that not all perspectives were shared during
group discussions. Additional research is needed to establish specific program impacts. However,
despite these limitations, it is hoped that these findings offer guidance and inspiration for commu-
nities embarking upon DV and H/H systems change initiatives.

Conclusion

DV survivors experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable in our society.
Unfortunately, too often survivors face barriers in accessing safe housing and trauma-informed
services within DV, H/H, and CE service systems (Cronley, 2020; Kofman & Marcus, 2018). The DV
Coordinator program offers a unique systems advocacy model that demonstrates potential to
improve services, strengthen cross-sector collaborations, and advance survivor-centered policies
within and across systems.

Note

1. Although the program broadly addressed the needs of survivors of many forms of violence, DV service needs
and delivery system were by far the largest. Therefore the program was not exclusively focused on the DV service
delivery system, however, DV was often the predominant focus.

Disclosure Statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

Funding

This work was supported by the Blue Shield of California Foundation [RP-2004-14549]; Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
[25762].

Notes on Contributors

Shanti Joy Kulkarni, PhD MSW, (she/her) is professor at the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at
Charlotte. Her research focuses on the impact of trauma, violence, and abuse upon vulnerable populations and seeks to
positively influence practitioner behavior, service delivery systems, and policy in ways that best promote survivor and
community health, well-being, and empowerment.

Suzanne Marcus, MS, (she/her) is the Director of Partnerships and Community Engagement at the National Alliance for
Safe Housing where she provides training and technical assistance to local providers and all levels of government to
develop programs and policies that promote racially equitable, safe housing solutions for survivors of gender-based
violence (GBV). Ms. Marcus has more than two decades of experience working at the intersection of GBV, housing and
homelessness, including directing a transitional housing program for survivors in New York City, and co-founding the
largest safe housing program in Washington, DC.

Cristina Cortes (she/her) is currently Manager of Domestic Violence System’s Alignment with Los Angeles Homeless
Services Authority. Her primary focus is to ensure that survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual
assault, are able to safely access mainstream homeless services, though community education and partnership-

HOUSING POLICY DEBATE 13

building. She is an active participant of various leadership bodies, including the Domestic Violence-Homeless Services
Coalition, and the Office of Violence Prevention.

Carielle Escalante (she/her) has worked in the domestic violence field for more than 5 years. Currently she works for
Rainbow Services, Ltd., an agency that provides shelter and supportive services for individuals experiencing DV. In her
current role, Ms. Escalante works toward building and strengthening relationships between victim service providers and
homeless service providers. Prior to this role Ms. Escalante worked as a paralegal, a role in which she provided much
needed legal services for survivors to be able to access the protections that the judicial system has to offer.

Leila Wood, PhD, MSSW (she/her) is associate professor and the Director of Evaluation at the Center for Violence
Prevention Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). Dr. Wood’s
program of research focuses on community-based intimate partner violence and sexual assault intervention and
prevention efforts.

Rachel Fusco, PhD, MSSW (she/her) is associate professor and Georgia Athletic Association Chair in Health and Well-
being in the University of Georgia School of Social Work. Dr. Fusco’s research focuses on families experiencing child
maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and substance use disorders.

ORCID

Leila Wood http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5095-2577

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HOUSING POLICY DEBATE 15

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https://nnedv.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/FY21-Funding-to-End-Domestic-Violence-August-2020

https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/4831/coordinated-entry-and-victim-service-providers-faqs/

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https://www.hudexchange.info/news/hud-publishes-coordinated-entry-requirements-and-checklist-of-essential-elements/

Abstract
Background
Importance of Safe Housing for Survivors
Bridging Separate DV and Homelessness Service Delivery Systems

Method
Program Description
Study Design
Data Collection and Analysis
Community Partner Web Survey
Listening Sessions

Findings
Theme 1: DV, H/H, and CES Improvements Were Achieved Through Education and Relationships
Educating Service Providers
Enhancing System Coordination
Changing Service Providers’ Practices

Theme 2: DV Coordinators Interfaced With Community Partners in Ways That Were Responsive to Unique Needs, Contexts of Their Regions, and Their Understanding of Systems Advocacy
Theme 3: The DV Coordinator Program Strengthened Survivor-Centered Advocacy With Funders and Policy Makers

Discussion/Implications
Limitations

Conclusion
Note
Disclosure Statement
Funding
Notes on Contributors
ORCID
References

Articles/Lyons-Brewer2021_Article_ExperiencesOfIntimatePartnerVi

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence during Lockdown
and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Minna Lyons1 & Gayle Brewer1

Accepted: 17 February 2021
# The Author(s) 2021

Abstract
Previous studies have demonstrated that there is an increase in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) during times of crisis (e.g.,
financial, environmental, or socio-political situations). The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented global health
and financial tragedy, but research is yet to establish exactly how the situation may impact on IPV. The present study investigates
victims’ experience of IPV during lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. We report a qualitative thematic analysis of 50
discussion forum posts written by victims of IPV. Of these, 48 forum posts were written by female victims of male perpetrated
violence. All forum posts were obtained from the popular online platform, Reddit. We identified four themes associated with IPV
victims’ experiences during lockdown and the global pandemic: (i) Use of COVID-19 by the Abuser, (ii) Service Disruption, (iii)
Preparation to Leave, and (iv) Factors Increasing Abuse or Distress. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on
those living with IPV, often increasing the severity of IPV experienced. The experiences of those affected by IPV during this
period inform interventions and the guidance and support provided to IPV victims during times of crisis.

Keywords COVID-19 . Domestic violence . Intimate partner violence . Online forum . Partner abuse . Pandemic

The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is
likely to have severe negative consequences for victims of
intimate partner violence (IPV; Boserup et al. 2020;
Bradbury-Jones and Isham 2020; Peterman et al. 2020;
Usher et al. 2020). IPV consists of a wide range of behaviours
between current or former romantic partners, encompassing
sexual, psychological, physical, and financial abuse of differ-
ing degrees (Peterman et al. 2020). Although male
perpetrator-female victim is the most common pattern, female
perpetrators and male victims are not unusual (Hines and
Douglas 2009). In addition, IPV occurs in same-sex relation-
ships at a prevalence comparable to heterosexual relationships
(Rollè et al. 2018). Research has linked times of uncertainty
(e.g., natural disasters, civil unrest, virus outbreaks, economic
insecurity) to increased violence within families, including
abuse directed towards romantic partners (see Peterman
et al. 2020 for a review). Indeed, there are already anecdotal
accounts reporting a pandemic-related escalation of violence

against women and girls in several regions of the world
(Peterman et al. 2020). In order to develop effective strategies
for intervention and prevention, it is essential to gain knowl-
edge of the dynamics that underlie the exacerbated incidences
of partner violence during crises such as the COVID-19
pandemic.

There are several potential direct and indirect mechanisms
influencing the increase of IPV perpetration during the virus
outbreak (Peterman et al. 2020). First, the pandemic has in-
creased rates of unemployment to unprecedented levels
(Kawohl and Nordt 2020), pushing many households into
poverty. IPV has well-recorded links with financial stressors
(e.g., Lucero et al. 2016; Schwab-Reese et al. 2016), and could
have complicated interactions with factors such as emascula-
tion and alcohol use (Peralta et al. 2010). In addition, financial
hardship may result in a reduced likelihood of the victim leav-
ing the abuser. Financial abuse could, in fact, be one of the
many strategies for the perpetrators to prevent their victim
from escaping (Eriksson and Ulmestig 2017). In effect, finan-
cial hardship can increase stress and put more strain on rela-
tionships, as well as reduce opportunities for the victim to
leave.

Second, social isolation measures related to the pandemic
leave many victims without social contacts, housebound with

* Gayle Brewer
gbrewer@liverpool.ac.uk

1 Department of Psychology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69
7ZA, UK

Journal of Family Violence
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-021-00260-x

http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1007/s10896-021-00260-x&domain=pdf

http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0690-4548

mailto:gbrewer@liverpool.ac.uk

the perpetrator. Social isolation has been associated with in-
creased risk of IPV in some contexts (e.g., in migrant women;
Kim 2019; in rural areas; Lanier and Maume 2009), and po-
tentially prevents the victim from seeking help from others
(van Gelder et al. 2020). Indeed, isolating victims from their
social support network is a common strategy employed by
perpetrators to control their victims. Thus, increased contact
with the perpetrator, coupled with reduced social contacts
with others, are likely to put many already vulnerable victims
into even more precarious situations.

Third, the services that might normally be available to IPV
victims may simply not be there, or function at a reduced
capacity during a pandemic. Health care providers and emer-
gency personnel are often the first point of contact for IPV
victims, and play a major role in screening for IPV, identifying
it, and encouraging disclosure (Bradley et al. 2020). Because
of limited access to health care during the pandemic, many
incidences of IPV may not be identified. In addition, police
intervention is often the first response to IPV (Cheng and Lo
2019). Due to social restrictions and police engagement in
new roles such as coordination and enforcement of local lock-
downs, victims and bystanders (e.g., neighbours) may be less
likely to contact the police during incidence of physical vio-
lence. It is possible that the pandemic leaves many victims
unnoticed, without the help of authorities and health care
providers.

Fourth, the pandemic may be a tool for the abusers to exert
their power further. Some of the well-recorded IPV tactics
include coercive control, which has been defined as “a strate-
gic course of oppressive conduct that is typically characterized
by frequent, but low-level physical abuse and sexual coercion
in combination with tactics to intimidate, degrade, isolate, and
control victims” (Stark 2013, p. 18). The abusers may use the
social isolation measures during the pandemic as an excuse for
further controlling and isolating the victims. Coercive control
has been identified as one of the important predictors of
femicide (Campbell et al. 2003), highlighting the concern
about murder victims as “collateral damage” of the pandemic.
The pandemic could even escalate the journey of the perpe-
trator from coercive control to murder (see Monckton Smith
2019).

The aim of the present study is to qualitatively understand
the experiences of IPV victims during the pandemic. We are
utilising online discussion forums, a data source that has be-
come a popular tool in both qualitative (e.g., Newberry 2017)
and quantitative (e.g., Lyons et al. 2018; Lyons et al. 2020)
psychological research. Online communities can provide a
constructive forum for advice, support, and social contact in
those who experience IPV (Hurley et al. 2007; Lindgren 2014;
Newberry 2017). IPV victimisation is often related to shame,
self-blame, and social stigma (Eckstein 2016; Lim et al. 2015),
which may make it harder in terms of seeking support face-to-
face (Overstreet and Quinn 2013). The online environment

facilitates interacting and sharing stories with others using an
anonymous username, reducing stigma relating to disclosure
and providing a degree of safeguarding. The personal stories
of IPV victims will be important for understanding the com-
plicated issues that the global health crisis may impose on
vulnerable people.

Method

Selection of Forum Posts

In this research, we utilised the highly popular social network-
ing discussion forum platform, Reddit. This platform has
more than 10,000 user-generated “subreddits”, online com-
munities that are unified by common interests (Widman
2020). The veil of anonymity and shared experiences make
it easier for the users to openly talk about stigmatising issues
that may be more difficult to discuss face-to-face. Hence
Reddit has been successfully used to research sensitive topics
such as pro-eating disorders (Sowles et al. 2018), incel com-
munities (Maxwell et al. 2020), and mental illness (De
Choudhury and De 2014). Reddit has also been used by vic-
tims of IPV and sexual violence as a supportive environment
in which experiences can be shared and acknowledged
(O’Neill 2018; Schrading et al. 2015). Indeed, the use of these
online communities may be empowering and reduce social
isolation (van Uden-Kraan et al. 2009). Therefore, Reddit
has the potential to provide an insight into user experiences
in a manner unprompted by researcher priorities or
assumptions.

For the present study, we searched Reddit for IPV
related subreddits by using the search words “domestic
violence, domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, abu-
sive relationships, partner abuse”. We identified three
relevant sites, each with a large number of users (at
the point of data collection, 10,100, 12,300, and
27,100). We selected posts that were submitted between
1st March and 10th May 2020, a period in which a
substantial proportion of the global population had ex-
perienced or were anticipating lockdown.

Upon entering each subreddit site, we searched for relevant
posts using the words “COVID, corona, virus, and pandemic”.
We went through the list of threads under each search word,
selecting posts (and responses to the posts) that filled the in-
clusion criteria. The inclusion criteria were the following: (i)
the posts had to discuss PERSONAL experiences during the
pandemic. Posts that were discussing the experiences of some-
one else, giving advice without sharing their experiences, or
did not mention COVID-19 at all were excluded. (ii) the posts
had to discuss experiences of IPV victimisation (not other
types of domestic violence or perpetration of IPV), with the
abuse present prior to the pandemic.

J Fam Viol

We recorded posts by the usernames, analysing each
username as one unit. We also searched for other posts by
the username by clicking their name. If the person had written
about IPV experiences during COVID-19 in other subreddits,
those posts were also collected. The username, link to the post,
perpetrator-victim relationship (i.e., male-female, female-
male, male-male, female-female), and country of origin of
the posts (wherever this was possible) were recorded.

Ethical Issues

As the posts in the subreddits were publicly available, our
Institutional Review Board for research involving human par-
ticipants, did not require formal review and approval.
However, when designing and conducting the study and
reporting our findings we consulted relevant ethical guide-
lines, previously published discussion forum research, and
available guides to discussion forum research (e.g., Smedley
and Coulson 2021). In particular, we considered the public or
private nature of the information shared, the potential for ben-
efit or harm, and the feasibility of seeking informed consent
when determining the appropriateness of the research
(Eysenbach and Till 2001; Roberts 2015).

We analysed posts available to the general public without
registration or log in and adopted a number of measures in
accordance with professional body guidelines (e.g., British
Psychological Society 2017) in order to protect the anonymity
of the forum users. We are not revealing their online
usernames, have slightly altered the wording of the quotes in
this report, and include brief quotations rather than lengthy
forum posts. To further address this issue, we entered each
quote into both Google (the most widely used search engine)
and Reddit (the discussion forum platform used to obtain
posts), and this did not lead to the original posts. We are not
reporting the name of the subreddits used in the study either.
Altogether, we collected 50 posts written by victims of IPV on
the forums identified as relevant for the topic. We finished
data collection after all the relevant posts were found. Most
(48) were female victims reporting abuse from a male perpe-
trator. Although in most cases, it was not possible to trace the
country of origin, 22 posts were from the US, two from the
UK, one from Canada, one from Australia, and one from
Cambodia.

Data Analysis

Two researchers independently analysed the datafile using
inductive thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006). This
analytical method has been used previously in the context of
discussion forum posts on IPV (e.g., Newberry 2017), and
was deemed as the most appropriate for understanding per-
sonal stories within the context of the pandemic. The re-
searchers read the forum posts several times, and established

initial codes independent from each other, utilising separate
word files as an audit trail. The researchers then discussed the
codes, removed any duplicates, amalgamated similar codes,
and investigated any discrepancies between the coders.

After agreement on the coding system, we then organised
the codes into broader themes in order to establish a prelimi-
nary thematic framework. For example, the limited shelter
access, contacting law enforcement, and disruption to
counselling codes later contributed to the Service Disruption
theme. This was done by carefully examining any similarities
and differences between codes and critically appraising the
relationships between the codes. The final themes were agreed
by both researchers after checking analytical interpretations
for any discrepancies and it was clear that data saturation
had been reached after analysis of the 50 discussion forum
posts. We applied Leininger’s (1994) six criteria (credibility,
confirmability, meaning in context, recurrent patterning, satu-
ration, and transferability) when assessing the trustworthiness
of our findings. These criteria are specifically intended for use
with qualitative data and are consistent with the assumptions
and goals of the qualitative paradigm.

Credibility. The researchers discussed their interpreta-
tions of the findings extensively, acknowledging their
potential biases, and trying to adopt the perspective of
the informants. We recognise that credibility is some-
what limited by the lack of participant involvement in
the interpretation of the findings. However, we note that
the data were posts created by users, unprompted by
researcher priorities or assumptions and therefore may
have greater credibility than other approaches.
Confirmability. At times, it would have been beneficial
to obtain clarification for some of the posts, which was
not possible due to the nature of the study. However,
the discussion forum posts are thought to be true, hon-
est reflection of personal experience. Meaning-in-con-
text. We recognize that the interpretations of the data
are compatible only within the specific context ad-
dressed (i.e., the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recurrent Patterning. The texts within the posts were often
in similar sequences, telling similar kind of stories (e.g., pan-
demic stressors increasing abuse, with victims preparing to
leave). We felt that the data did include recurring experiences
across multiple posters. Saturation. Although other similar
studies have used larger number of posts (e.g., O’Neill
2018), our data collection was limited by the number of avail-
able posts that fit the exclusion criteria. However, both re-
searchers agreed that when reaching the 50 posts, data satura-
tion was reached, and no new codes/themes were emerging at
this point. Transferability. The themes can be partially trans-
ferred to reflect the experiences of people in other circum-
stances in the pandemic. However, it is important to note that
the aim of our study is not to produce findings that may be
generalized to other (i.e., non-pandemic) contexts, it is to

J Fam Viol

understand the experiences of those affected by IPV during
the pandemic in order to inform interventions and the guid-
ance and support provided to IPV victims.

Results

We identified a number of themes relating to experiences of
IPV during the COVID-19 pandemic. Forum posts typically
also contained non-COVID-19 information (e.g., describing
the abuse, providing relationship history). These themes are
not reported here if they did not directly relate to experiencing
IPV in the context of the pandemic. However, it is worth
noting that the posts described a deep history of IPV prior to
the pandemic. Therefore, the posts relate to a continuation or
escalation (none described a reduction) of abuse rather than
abuse initiated after the start of the pandemic and findings
cannot inform our understanding of the experiences of those
who first became victims of IPV during the pandemic. The
four themes extracted from the data were (i) Use of COVID-
19 by the Abuser, (ii) Service Disruption, (iii) Preparation to
Leave, and (iv) Factors Increasing Abuse or Distress.

Use of COVID-19 by the Abuser

Perpetrators frequently capitalized on the pandemic and incor-
porated it into the abuse. For example, “He’s using it as an
excuse to try to throw me out of the house” (female victim,
country not disclosed). Abusers also threatened victims or
punished ‘unacceptable’ behaviour during the pandemic such
as leaving the house during lockdown. As described on one
forum post “She says she will “kill me” for putting people at
risk” (male victim, U.S.A.). Similarly, another woman stated
“He yelled at me after I went for a walk, he says I am selfish
and “retarded”, he’s doing it to try to control me” (female
victim, country not disclosed). In some instances, perpetrators
made false claims to control a partner’s movements, such as
“He called the airline and said I had tested positive so that they
wouldn’t let me on the plane” (female victim, U.S.A.). Some
posts also described perpetrators threatening to purchase a
weapon, both in countries where gun ownership is legal and
illegal. Potential social unrest during the pandemic was often
provided as the reason for acquiring the weapon. For example,
“He says he is going to buy a gun as people go crazy during
the pandemic and might rob him…he is using it as an excuse
to get a gun” (female victim, Australia).

Service Disruption

COVID-19 caused considerable disruption to available ser-
vices, including specialist domestic violence services (such
as shelters) and associated support (e.g., counselling). Forum
posts often commented that “The DV shelters are all full!”

(female victim, country not disclosed), “Shelters are at capac-
ity…everything is in lockdown because of COVID” (female
victim, U.K.), and “The shelter won’t take or release people
during COVID” (female victim, U.S.A). Support services of-
ten became unavailable, exacerbating the impact of the IPV.
For example, “He was seeing a counsellor to help him with his
anger but he had to stop due to COVID-19” (female victim,
country not disclosed) and “I normally see an onsite therapist
at work without him knowing but I can’t do that now” (female
victim, country not disclosed). Disruption to legal proceedings
often increased anxiety and the risks posed to IPV victims. For
example, “My abuser is going to be released from jail because
prisoners and guards have tested positive… I’m shocked and
very scared… I worry for my safety and the safety of my
children” (female victim, U.K.). Similarly, court cases were
delayed “The court case is pending but I don’t know when it
will happen now because of COVID” (female victim, U.S.A.).
Regular services that support victims leaving their abuser
(e.g., transportation) have also been affected. As stated by
one woman, “There are hardly any flights and then I would
have to quarantine for two weeks” (female victim, Cambodia).

Preparation to Leave

Many victims reported that they were ready to leave their
abusive partner and that the pandemic had interrupted their
attempt to leave. For example, “I should have moved by
now…The pandemic put everything on hold” (female victim,
Australia) and “I was hoping to leave before the pandemic hit,
now I am stuck here” (female victim, U.S.A.). Other individ-
uals were using the lockdown to prepare to leave. For exam-
ple, “I have been contacting houses to move into” (female
victim, Australia) and “I’m using time to make an escape plan,
I’m trying to find a way out” (female victim, U.S.A.). One
victim explained “I’m using quarantine to make a plan to get
out of this situation. I’ve made a secret email and packed a
bag” (female victim, U.S.A.). Financial resources were partic-
ularly important. For example, victims reported “I am waiting
for the payment, so I can grab the kids and leave” (female
victim, U.S.A.). Highlighting the importance of the approach
adopted by each country one victim stated “I need money to
escape…In Australia we receive a payment due to COVID…
I’m using this to escape him…As soon as I get a payment I’m
using it for a deposit and leaving” (female victim, Australia).

Factors Increasing Abuse or Distress

A range of factors increased the prevalence and intensity of
the abuse or the victim’s IPV related distress. These could be
identified as financial stress, increased time together, in-
creased alcohol/drug use, pre-existing health issues of the vic-
tim or the abuser, and the presence of vulnerable others (e.g.,
children or pets). For example, alcohol use featured in many

J Fam Viol

posts, “It gets worse when he drinks and he does this a lot”
(female victim, Canada). Those living with their abuser (either
permanently or because they self-isolated together on a tem-
porary basis) were particularly distressed. In some cases, there
was evidence of coercive control by the abuser, for example,
“I can’t cope living with a monster anymore, everything is
controlled by him. I can’t be confined to a house all day with
my abuser” (female victim, Australia). The increased time
spent together because of quarantine and social isolation rules
seemed to be particularly challenging for many, resulting in
the victim feeling like a prisoner, “I’m stuck with him in a
house now, can’t do anything, and feeling paralyzed. In the
past few weeks I have had suicidal thoughts every day” (fe-
male victim, country not disclosed). Similarly, another stated
“Quarantine sucks, no escape from each other when we are
upset. He gaslights me all the time… I don’t know where to go
from here” (female victim, country not disclosed). The pres-
ence of vulnerable others also added to the victims’ distress.
Many of the victims were quarantined in the house with chil-
dren or pets. For example, one female victim voiced her con-
cerns over harming her child saying “Being stuck with him is
so hard. He hasn’t hurt our child before but I am afraid it might
happen soon. I’ve been trying to keep my son out of harms
way” (female victim, U.S.A.).

They often displayed desperation “I’m going to end up
killing myself during isolation…I can’t deal with it anymore.
How do I avoid him in the same house” (female victim,
Australia). Financial issues (including job loss) were also im-
portant. These included the perpetrator having fewer financial
resources and becoming more stressed, unpredictable, and
abusive and the victim having fewer financial resources and
therefore becoming more financially dependent on the abusive
partner. For example, “I can’t afford to move out because
there is less work” (female victim, Cambodia), “He has been
out of work and his behaviour has escalated” (female victim,
U.S.A.), and “I lost my job due to COVID. I’m living off his
income and unemployment” (female victim, country not
disclosed). Distress was exacerbated by isolation from the
wider social support network though people were often wor-
ried that visiting family or friends could increase the risk of
COVID-19. For example, “My mom and dad are at risk and
live with someone with cancer. I wouldn’t want to risk their
lives” (female victim, U.S.A).

Discussion

The current study investigated victims’ experiences of IPV
during the COVID-19 pandemic. The qualitative data gath-
ered from Reddit discussion forums indicate that in relation-
ships where there is a history of abuse, IPV has often been
exacerbated by stressors related to the pandemic. No victims
reported that the frequency or severity of abuse had declined

during this period. Many of the concerns identified by the
victims in our sample related to the issues that Peterman
et al. (2020) raised in relation to IPV during the pandemic
(e.g., economic uncertainty, quarantine and social isolation,
reduced support service availability, inability to escape the
abuse, and virus-specific sources of violence). Below, we will
discuss each of the four themes extracted from our data.

Use of COVID-19 by the Abuser

Many of the victims described how perpetrators were using
the pandemic as an excuse for escalating abuse, especially
increased surveillance of their partner and coercive control.
Lockdown and quarantine rules typically resulted in abusers
spending more time with the victim and increased opportuni-
ties for monitoring and control of their behaviour. For exam-
ple, where lockdown required victims to work from home,
abusers were able to observe interactions with colleagues.
The increase in coercive control is particularly worrying as
this has been identified as one of the risk factors for serious
abuse, including femicide (Myhill and Hohl 2019). It is, there-
fore, important that victims of IPV are supported to recognise
and respond to different forms of partner violence and indica-
tors that the abuse is escalating. Abusers also used the pan-
demic to restrict their partner’s movements and contact with
the outside world. Social isolation escalates the risk of vio-
lence and contributes to victim distress (Jose and Novaco
2016). Where restricted travel and social distancing regula-
tions are introduced, additional measures are required to re-
duce isolation in order to lower the risk of family violence
(Campbell 2020). Further, it is essential that local and national
policy restricting travel or introducing social distancing also
communicates exceptions to these rules, such as when a vic-
tim moves from one household to another to protect their
safety.

Some of the victims were concerned about their abuser’s
intentions to purchase a weapon, with abusers typically
adopting the need for self-protection during the pandemic as
an excuse for gun ownership. Indeed, gun ownership has in-
creased in the U.S.A. since the start of the pandemic and gun
related injuries or fatalities have increased in many regions
(Hatchimonji et al. 2020; Sutherland et al. 2020). The owner-
ship of a weapon has been identified as an important fatality
risk indicator by female victims (Johnson et al. 2020), sug-
gesting that many abuse victims are, for good reasons, fearing
for their lives during the pandemic. Of course, the presence of
a weapon not only impacts on the likelihood of homicide; it
may also impact on the abuser’s ability to control their victim,
victim distress and anxiety, and suicide rates (Lynch and
Logan 2018; Mannix et al. 2020; Sorenson and Schut 2018).
Therefore, law enforcement and those regulating weapon
ownership must acknowledge and address the increased risk
to IPV victims during times of crisis.

J Fam Viol

Service Disruption

This theme centred on the disruption of services available to
victims (e.g., shelters) and perpetrators (e.g., counselling).
Victims who seek but do not receive external support are less
likely to leave their abusive partner (Koepsell et al. 2006).
Hence, pandemic-related disruptions to support services place
the victims of IPV in a precarious position, reducing practical
support and preventing the escape to shelters and/or family
that live further away. Those supporting victims of IPV must
ensure that support services are available remotely (e.g., on-
line) and consider how this support can be safely accessed
when victims are in quarantine with their abuser. Additional
facilities (e.g., shelter accommodation) are also required to
address demand during the COVID-19 pandemic (Ndedi
2020) and public pressure may be required to ensure that these
facilities are available. Furthermore, termination of help (e.g.,
counselling) to the abuser may decrease their ability to cope
with the pandemic-related stressors, leading to escalated IPV.
Remote counselling available to perpetrators and victims
would, therefore, also be beneficial (Mazza et al. 2020).

Services that are not primarily targeted at IPV victims or
perpetrators have also been disrupted. For example, during
lockdown, victims may have reduced contact with health care
providers or law enforcement who often encourage victims to
leave abusive partners (Morse et al. 2012) and it is important
that opportunities to report partner abuse or seek advice are
maintained. Alternative forms of reporting may be introduced,
but the availability of these must be widely disseminated to
victims through large-scale national campaigns. In the present
study, victims also reported disruption to court activities and
early release of prisoners due to COVID-19; this is particular-
ly concerning as delayed prosecution and early release in-
crease the risk of abuse from the violent partner. Further, in
addition to their primary safeguarding function, court offers
important opportunities to support the well-being of partner
violence victims (Cerulli et al. 2011). It is, therefore, essential
that disruption to judicial activities resulting in delayed pros-
ecution, early offender release, or reduced victim support, is
combined with measures that address the impact of this dis-
ruption on victims (i.e., increased risk and distress).

Preparation to Leave

For some victims, COVID-19 (and associated lockdown mea-
sures) interrupted plans to leave their abusive partner. Others
reflected on their relationship during this time (or perhaps
were aware of the escalation of abuse during the pandemic)
and decided to leave when possible. It is difficult to determine
why some victims had reached the decision to leave prior to
the pandemic and others were prompted to leave by COVID-
19 and further research in this area is required. It is likely,
however, that a range of individual, relational, and situational

factors impacted on this process. Victims who used the pan-
demic period to prepare for their escape, engaged in a range of
preparatory activities such as creating secure emails,
organising belongings, and locating alternative accommoda-
tion. These activities encouraged hope that it would be possi-
ble to safely leave the relationship and optimism about the
future. Indeed, victims are more likely to terminate an abusive
relationship if they believe they have a degree of control over
this (Byrne and Arias 2004).

These plans are particularly important where access to for-
mal (e.g., shelters) and informal (e.g., family) support is lim-
ited. There is, however, little information available to victims
relating to how to prepare to safely leave an abusive relation-
ship (e.g., locating proof of identity which may be required to
obtain benefits) and additional guidance should be provided.
Online resources (e.g., those available on discussion forums
used by IPV victims) may be particularly beneficial. Of
course, for many victims, lockdown with their abuser makes
such planning difficult or increases the risk of detection and
victim safeguarding remains the priority. It is important to
note that those who had access to increased funds as a conse-
quence of the pandemic (i.e., Government funding) were par-
ticularly positive about their ability to leave the abusive part-
ner. It is, therefore, essential that IPV victims are provided
with the resources (including financial resources) necessary
to leave the abusive partner. Greater public recognition of this
issue may be required to ensure that funding is in place to
support victims.

Factors Increasing Abuse or Distress

Forum posts identified a range of factors that increased the
intensity and prevalence of the IPV or exacerbated victim
distress. In particular, financial pressures that increased perpe-
trator stress (and abusive or controlling behaviour) or victim
dependence on the abusive partner were commonly discussed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an extensive impact on the
global economy (e.g., wide-scale redundancy) with many
countries likely to enter recession (Coibion et al. 2020;
Fernandes 2020). It is, therefore, important to recognise the
consequences of the pandemic related economic crisis for
wider societal issues. Of course, the impact of financial re-
source availability extends beyond the incidence of IPV and
the victim’s ability to leave. For example, for those who have
left their abusive partner, the availability of resources also has
an important impact on subsequent health (Ford-Gilboe et al.
2009) suggesting longer-term consequences of these econom-
ic issues.

Other issues believed to increase the abuse or victim dis-
tress included the use of alcohol and drugs. The relationship
between substance use and IPV is well-established (e.g.,
Caetano et al. 2001) and there are concerns that alcohol use
has increased during lockdown (Clay and Parker 2020).

J Fam Viol

Hence, public health measures to reduce substance use as a
coping mechanism during pandemics or other national crises
may help to lower IPV levels. Victims isolating with their
abuser are at particular risk during the pandemic
(Klostermann et al. 2020) and those with vulnerable others
present in the household may be particularly concerned.
Indeed, the presence of vulnerable others such as children or
pets appears to influence both the incidence of abuse and the
decision to enter a shelter (Hardesty et al. 2013). During the
pandemic, children are at increased risk of exposure to vio-
lence or becoming victims themselves (Humphreys et al.
2020). It is important therefore, to ensure children exposed
to violence during COVID-19 are supported (Ragavan et al.
2020). This may incorporate a range of measures including
access to counselling and school based support.

Limitations

The present study investigated the experiences of IPV victims
during lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, using online
forum discussion posts. Though these provide an important
insight into those issues of most concern to victims, un-
prompted by the priorities or assumptions of the researchers,
it is not possible to determine whether these posts are repre-
sentative of IPV victim experiences. For example, Reddit
users tend to be younger and more educated than the general
population (Pew Research Center 2016). In addition, though
we made note of the country of origin where listed, we have
little demographic detail for the individuals posting online. In
both research and practice there has little consideration of IPV
experiences in racial and ethnic minorities (Lee et al. 2002).
Therefore, whilst it is particularly important to investigate the
experiences from those in minority groups as ethnicity may be
related to COVID-19 incidence or outcomes (Pareek et al.
2020), our research cannot inform this issue. Finally, the pres-
ent study did not specifically target the female victims of male
perpetrators. The majority of the posts selected were, howev-
er, written by the female victims of male perpetrators. It is
important to recognise that those in same-sex relationships
are also at risk of IPV (Messinger 2011) as are men in rela-
tionships with female perpetrators (Carmo et al. 2011). Future
studies should specifically consider these groups.

Impact and Conclusions

The present research represents one of the first studies to gain
knowledge of the dynamics that influence the increased inci-
dence of partner violence during crises such as the COVID-19
pandemic. We investigated experiences of IPV via a qualita-
tive thematic analysis of Reddit discussion forum posts, an
approach which provides an insight into user experiences un-
prompted by researcher priorities or assumptions. Four themes
emerged. These were Use of COVID-19 by the Abuser,

Service Disruption, Preparation to Leave, and Factors
Increasing Abuse or Distress. These findings inform interven-
tions and the guidance provided to those affected by IPV. In
particular, we advocate supporting victims to recognise and
respond to different forms of partner violence and indicators
that the abuse is escalating, and ensuring that victims are
aware of exceptions to social distancing policy that allows
movement to protect personal safety. Large scale national
campaigns to disseminate this information and information
advising victims how to safely leave an abusive relationship
are recommended. It is also essential that law enforcement are
aware of the increased risk to IPV victims during times of
crisis and that specialist services (e.g., counselling and shel-
ters) are protected.

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adap-
tation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as
you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, pro-
vide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were
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statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain
permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this
licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence during Lockdown and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Abstract
Method
Selection of Forum Posts
Ethical Issues
Data Analysis

Results
Use of COVID-19 by the Abuser
Service Disruption
Preparation to Leave
Factors Increasing Abuse or Distress

Discussion
Use of COVID-19 by the Abuser
Service Disruption
Preparation to Leave
Factors Increasing Abuse or Distress
Limitations
Impact and Conclusions

References

Articles/Peled & Krigel, 2016, path to economic independence among IPV survivors – review and call for action

Aggression and Violent Behavior 31 (2016) 127–135

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Aggression and Violent Behavior
The path to economic independence among survivors of intimate partner
violence: A critical review of the literature and courses for action
Einat Peled a,⁎, Karni Krigel b
a School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University, Israel
b Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
⁎ Corresponding author at: Bob Shapell School of Socia
E-mail address: einatp@post.tau.ac.il (E. Peled).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2016.08.005
1359-1789/© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
a b s t r a c t
a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Received 29 December 2015
Received in revised form 28 June 2016
Accepted 29 August 2016
Available online 14 September 2016
Public policy encourages women, including survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV), to develop economic in-
dependence. However, a critical review of the literature in this field reveals that IPV survivors face unique obsta-
cles in doing so: active and violent intervention by the perpetrator; damage to the survivor’s health due to
prolonged subjection to violence; and structural obstacles. A background of gendered violence, low socioeco-
nomic status, and belonging to a marginalized ethnic or racial group, may further intersect with the direct and
indirect influences of that violence, resulting in even greater obstacles to the development of economic indepen-
dence. The article concludes with a discussion of how existing intervention programs for developing economic
independence among survivors of IPV meet those obstacles, and a framework for intervention in this domain.

© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Economic independence
Intimate partner violence
Economic empowerment
Economic abuse
Contents
1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
2. Key terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128

2.1. Economic dependence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
3. Causes of economic dependence and obstacles to achieving economic independence among IPV survivors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

3.1. Violent and intentional intervention by the male partner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
3.1.1. Intentional harm by the violent partner is designed to sabotage the woman’s efforts and chances of integrating in the workforce,

or of receiving academic or professional training, and to disrupt her personal development and efforts to achieve economic
independence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

3.1.2. Economic control and exploitation by the violent partner occurs when he sabotages the victim’s development toward economic
independence by hampering her efforts to become knowledgeable in financial matters, to access funds, or to manage them
(Adams et al., 2008; Postmus et al., 2012) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

3.1.3. Family, social, and community isolation of women by their violent partners is another factor hampering their economic and
occupational development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

3.2. Health impairments due to subjection to violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
3.3. Structural obstacles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130

3.3.1. Policy and law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130
3.3.2. Public services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130
3.3.3. Labor market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130

4. Marginalization, oppression and inequality, and economic dependence of IPV survivors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
4.1. Lifetime gendered violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
4.2. Socioeconomic status . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
4.3. Race and ethnicity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131

5. Intervention to foster economic independence of IPV survivors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
5.1. Programs for fostering economic independence among IPV survivors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132

5.1.1. “Moving ahead through financial management” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
5.1.2. “Realizing your economic action plan” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132

5.2. Intervention framework for helping IPV survivors develop economic independence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
l Work, Ramat Aviv, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel.

http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1016/j.avb.2016.08.005&domain=pdf

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2016.08.005

mailto:einatp@post.tau.ac.il

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2016.08.005

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/13591789

128 E. Peled, K. Krigel / Aggression and Violent Behavior 31 (2016) 127–135
5.2.1. The material/economic domain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
5.2.2. The structural/social domain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
5.2.3. The emotional domain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
5.2.4. The educational/occupational domain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133

6. Summary and conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
1. Introduction

Recent years have witnessed a growing emphasis in public discourse
on the need for citizens to assume personal responsibility for their ac-
tive participation in the labor market and economic independence
(Lewis, 2002; Skevik, 2005). This political climate, coupled with nega-
tive attitudes toward those who rely on welfare payments for subsis-
tence, has led to a flourishing of economic empowerment programs
and business entrepreneurship initiatives. These programs have been
addressed mostly at women of low-income families, who are recipients
of welfare and victims of intimate partner violence (IPV). This trend ap-
pears to be an outcome of wide-ranging neoliberal policies aimed at re-
ducing the overall provision of public services by the state and
transferring this responsibility to private and market forces. These poli-
cies have been criticized for ignoring the needs and experiences of
women who find themselves at the intersection of class, gender and
ethnic/racist barriers (Brush, 2011).

Researchers and IPV advocates have noted the unique difficulties
posed by these policies for survivors of violence who seek to develop
economic independence (Scott, London, & Myers, 2002). They have
also raised awareness of economic violence as a form of IPV, along-
side physical, emotional and verbal abuse (Postmus, Plummer, &
Stylianou, 2016). This heightened awareness of the plight of IPV
survivors has led to the development of unique community-based
programs aiming at helping them overcome barriers to economic
independence.

This article critically reviews the growing body of literature in this
domain, with a particular focus on the unique obstacles and opportuni-
ties facing IPV survivors in their bid to become economically indepen-
dent. While IPV may take different forms, including same-sex and
female-to-male violence, this article focuses on the bulk of the literature
in this domain which relates to abusive and coercive behavior by men
toward their female partner, in the form of threats or actual use of phys-
ical violence; sexual violence; verbal and emotional abuse; stalking; or
economic abuse (Hahn & Postmus, 2014). The article begins by defining
the key terms in this field, followed by a review of the main causes of the
economic dependency of IPV survivors on others—namely, violence by
their intimate partner, health impairments, and structural barriers. We
then review the literature on the associations between economic in/de-
pendence of IPV survivors and bases of oppression and inequality due to
gendered violence, social class and racial/ethnic characteristics. After an
examination of existing intervention programs that have been tailored
to promote economic independence among IPV survivors in the United
States, and the extent to which these have addressed the barriers con-
ceptualized in this article, we conclude with a proposal for an interven-
tion framework to facilitate this end.
2. Key terms

Several key terms are used in the growing literature on the economic
aspects of male-to-female IPV, in an effort to understand and conceptu-
alize the phenomenon (e.g., Crawne et al., 2011; Sanders, 2015;
Stylianou, Postmus, & McMahon, 2013). Chief among these are: eco-
nomic dependence, economic abuse, economic empowerment, financial ca-
pability and economic independence. Familiarity with these terms is
necessary before proceeding with the review of the research in this
field.
2.1. Economic dependence

A common definition of economic dependence in the context of IPV
survivors is the woman’s reliance on her partner for economic support,
with the partner controlling the couple’s or family’s financial resources,
irrespective of whether he is the chief financial provider or merely con-
trolling the resources provided by the woman, through violence or the
threat of violence (Alvi & Selbee, 1997; Bornstein, 2006; Scott et al.,
2002).

Economic abuse is defined as tactics employed by an abusive partner
in a bid to control his partner’s ability to acquire and preserve economic
assets. These include behaviors such as economic control, economic ex-
ploitation and sabotaging the woman’s employment (Adams, Sullivan,
Bybee, & Greeson, 2008; Postmus, Plummer, McMahon, Murshid, &
Kim, 2012; Postmus et al., 2016; Sanders, 2015).

Economic empowerment is a process whereby the woman
acquires knowledge, skills and motivation to achieve economic
control, power and wellbeing, and a say in the financial decisions
affecting her life (Hahn & Postmus, 2014). It includes economic self-
efficacy—the woman’s inner belief in her ability to achieve financial
resources, opportunities and security. This is achieved, in part,
through financial literacy—namely, the knowledge and skills to
identify economic opportunities, to discuss money matters and
economic issues, to draw up financial plans for one’s future, and to
respond knowledgeably to life events that affect daily economic
decisions (Postmus, Plummer, McMahon, & Zurlo, 2013).

Financial capability is a broad concept that encompasses the
woman’s financial literacy and financial skills, as well as access to
economic services and resources—all of which are necessary to
allow IPV survivors to act in their own best financial interests
(Johnson & Sherraden, 2007; Sanders, 2013; Sanders, 2014;
Sherraden, 2013). This concept goes beyond an individual focus on
the woman and her economic behavior, by taking into account her
life circumstances; her social and family background; and her exclu-
sion from financial management, resources and financial institutions
during her life.

Economic independence is defined as a wide-ranging set of skills re-
lated to the management of economic tasks (Postmus et al., 2013).
Other researchers define it as the ability to achieve sustainable employ-
ment that is sufficiently well-paying to pull oneself out of poverty
(Alfred, 2005). Pyles (2006) suggests that any operative tackling of
the issue of economic independence must include the following ele-
ments: autonomy and self-determination; financial security and re-
sponsibility; individual and family wellbeing; and basic assets for
living in the community. Scott et al. (2002) criticize the prevailing defi-
nition of economic independence in the welfare system in the United
States, which may also include situations where the woman relies on
her male partner’s income instead of on public support. An alternative
definition put forward by women participants in the study by Scott,
London, and Gross (2007) is the ability to provide for oneself without
having to rely on anyone else—i.e., independence from the welfare es-
tablishment as well as from one’s male partner.

129E. Peled, K. Krigel / Aggression and Violent Behavior 31 (2016) 127–135
3. Causes of economic dependence and obstacles to achieving eco-
nomic independence among IPV survivors

Economic dependence on a male provider or on welfare was found
to be comparatively common among IPV survivors, and appears to be
uniquely related to the violent relationships they are in (Bornstein,
2006; Scott et al., 2002). The dynamics behind economic dependence
among IPV survivors that places obstacles to their achieving economic
independence may be grouped into four main categories: 1. Violent
and intentional intervention by the male partner; 2. Health impair-
ments due to subjection to violence; 3. Structural obstacles; and 4. Mar-
ginalization, oppression and inequality.

3.1. Violent and intentional intervention by the male partner

Violent partners act in an abusive and deliberate manner to prevent
their partner from achieving personal and occupational development,
and to increase the partner’s economic dependence on them. To this
end, they use intentional harm; economic control and exploitation;
and isolation from family, society and community.

3.1.1. Intentional harm by the violent partner is designed to sabotage
the woman’s efforts and chances of integrating in the workforce, or of
receiving academic or professional training, and to disrupt her personal
development and efforts to achieve economic independence

IPV survivors have reported that their partner’s violence was clearly
aimed at disrupting their work, or even preventing it (Alexander, 2011),
because it intensified when they began to work (Brush, 2003), and was
a major impediment to their job performance and ability to remain in
the job (Logan, Shannon, Cole, & Swanberg, 2007; Moe & Bell, 2004).
Swanberg and Logan (2005) have also suggested that such job interfer-
ence tactics be regarded as a distinct form of IPV. As reported by IPV sur-
vivors, these tactics include turning off the woman’s alarm clock to
ensure that she is late to the job interview; embarrassing her by cutting
her hair, extinguishing a cigarette on her face, knocking out her teeth or
inflicting other visible disfigurements through beatings; removing es-
sential clothing items for work (such as uniform, winter coat, interview
clothes), or car keys; and harassing her at work (Raphael, 1996, 1999).
This violence undermines the woman’s employment stability, wages
and promotion prospects, and her long-term personal and occupational
development (Logan et al., 2007). Indeed, it has been found that the ad-
verse economic effects of IPV can persist for three to six years after the
abusive relationship has ended (Adams, Tolman, Bybee, Sullivan, &
Kennedy, 2013; Crawne et al., 2011; Schrag, 2015).

In addition, research findings indicate that abusive men intentional-
ly act to prevent their partner from engaging in occupational training or
education, to ensure her continued dependence on them and to prevent
her economic and personal development (for examples, see: Brush,
2000; Pyles & Banerjee, 2010; Sanders, 2015).

3.1.2. Economic control and exploitation by the violent partner occurs when
he sabotages the victim’s development toward economic independence by
hampering her efforts to become knowledgeable in financial matters, to ac-
cess funds, or to manage them (Adams et al., 2008; Postmus et al., 2012)

For example, a study of 120 IPV survivors who had attended a course
on financial literacy found that nearly all (94%) had been subject to such
economic control by their partner, and that this was a predictive factor
of their economic dependence (Postmus et al., 2013). In a study by Pyles
and Banerjee (2010), participants reported various ways, both direct
and indirect, in which their abusive partners exerted economic control
and exploitation over them—such as controlling the purse strings; delib-
erately creating debts; demanding that the woman borrow money; sex-
ual exploitation in return for money; refusing to work themselves;
forcing the woman to work outside the home (in the official or unofficial
economy) or to solicit others for financial support; and taking control of
her earning.
3.1.3. Family, social, and community isolation of women by their violent
partners is another factor hampering their economic and occupational
development

It occurs when the abuser severs social or family ties, or denies social
and community support (Kelly, Sharp, & Klein, 2014). Indeed, studies
have found that lack of social networks and community support is asso-
ciated with difficulties in developing a career among IPV survivors
(Kelly et al., 2014; Lindhorst, Oxford, & Gillmore, 2007). Access to com-
munity, professional, and social support networks (be it formal or infor-
mal) helps IPV survivors to expose the violence and to seek help, to
reduce the stress arising from the violence or their dependence on wel-
fare, to search for work, and to develop a professional career (Collins,
2011; Chronister, Linville, & Kaag, 2008; Staggs, Long, Mason,
Krishnan, & Riger, 2007; Sylaska & Edwards, 2014).
3.2. Health impairments due to subjection to violence

Although the associations between IPV and psychological and phys-
ical health impairment of various kinds have been repeatedly demon-
strated (see for example, Dutton et al., 2006; Gobin, Iverson, Mitchell,
Vaughn, & Resick, 2013; Perez & Johnson, 2008), less attention has
been given to the question of how the impairment to survivors’ health
due to IPV affects their integration in the workforce and their quest for
economic independence. A wide-ranging review of mental health prob-
lems among women with a history of IPV reveals that they are three to
five times more at risk of suffering depression, suicidal tendencies, post-
traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addictions, than women who are
not victims of IPV (Dutton et al., 2006). PTSD, in particular, is very com-
mon among IPV survivors (Gobin et al., 2013), however, it is also asso-
ciated with a wide range of other health problems, such as digestive
disorders, sleep disorders, heart disease, migraines, and chronic back
pains due to the psychological damage caused, all of which may persist
long after the violence has ceased (Scott-Storey, 2011).

Most of the studies into the associations between the health reper-
cussions of violence and occupation and economic independence have
focused on the mental domain, and the picture that emerges is mixed.
For example, three studies that looked at the mediating effect of psycho-
logical distress on the links between violence and employment found
no such association (Crawne et al., 2011; Lindhorst, Casey, & Meyers,
2010; Tolman & Wang, 2005). Conversely, other studies found that
the higher the post-traumatic stress experienced by IPV survivors, the
fewer hours they worked in the week (Meisel, Chandler, & Rienzi,
2003), and that their psychological abuse at the hands of their intimate
partners increased the incidence of low self-esteem and depression
among them, which in turn diminished their chances of integrating in
the workplace and achieving occupational development (Moe & Bell,
2004). In addition, among women who had been subject to consider-
able violence in their adolescence, an association was found between
their psychological and physical symptoms, and their reported prob-
lems of productivity, low satisfaction with work, and fatigue (Banyard,
Potter, & Turner, 2011).

Recent research on the influence of economic abuse on the mental
health of IPV survivors and their financial situation found that economic
abuse increases the risk of future financial hardships even four years
after the abusive relationship has ended, and that this association is par-
tially mediated by depression and other mental issues (Schrag, 2015).

One key explanation for the adverse effect of health problems on
survivors’ occupational development and economic independence is
that the mental harm that they incur drains them of the psychological
energy needed to find a job, keep it, and advance in the workplace
(Davis, 1999; DeRiviere, 2008). However, in her study, Brush (2003)
found that IPV survivors who have experienced post-traumatic stress
reported that although their work outside the home led to increased
levels of IPV, the work itself provided them with temporary relief from
the post-traumatic symptoms. Accordingly, she concluded that, on

130 E. Peled, K. Krigel / Aggression and Violent Behavior 31 (2016) 127–135
balance, employment outside the home can improve the mental health
of IPV survivors.

3.3. Structural obstacles

The adoption of neoliberal policy in the United States and other
Western countries has resulted in the withdrawal of the state from con-
cern with the personal and economic security of IPV survivors, and they
were left to deal with the market forces on their own (Brush, 2011; Scott
et al., 2002; Websdale & Johnson, 2007). While relatively little has been
written about direct and indirect structural obstacles faced by IPV survi-
vors in their attempt to develop economic independence, the existing
literature mentions obstacles related to policy and law, public services
and current trends in the labor market.

3.3.1. Policy and law
The neoliberal public policy prevailing today in most Western coun-

tries is based on the “Adult Worker” model, which assumes that both
the man/husband/father and the woman/wife/mother must be active
in the labor market and develop economic independence (Lewis,
2002). In the United States, for example, this policy is applied through
strict federal legislation (PRWORA1 and FVO2), which sets a time limit
on financial aid for welfare recipients, including those who are IPV sur-
vivors. While not all IPV survivors are welfare recipients, research has
shown that after a domestic violence incident, many women turn to
public welfare services for help, perhaps for the first time in their life
(Brandwein, 1999). However, despite the FVO law, the PRWORA wel-
fare reform has limited the ability of IPV survivors in the United States
to receive financial aid. For example, Adams et al. (2013), monitored
503 IPV survivors in Michigan who had appealed for help from social
services, and found that while in 1997 they had all received some
help, in 2003 the majority (88%) received no public support, and 54%
of them reported economic hardship.

Welfare to Work (WTW) is another neoliberal policy implemented in
the United States and other Western countries. Its objective is to engage
women who are welfare recipients, including IPV survivors, in gainful
employment in the labor market (Brush, 2011; Winter, 2015). Research
has found that while these programs achieve their macro-level objec-
tives (i.e. reduction in the number of welfare cases and in financial
aid), they have not resulted in greater economic independence for the
IPV survivors (Davis, 1999). On the contrary, research suggests that
these programs have exposed women to further violence by their part-
ner, and have entrenched their economic dependence on him (Scott et
al., 2002). For example, Winter (2015) found that a mandated participa-
tion of Australian IPV survivors in the WTW program resulted in a finan-
cial disadvantage to the participants who found themselves deskilling.
Similar findings were reported by researchers in the United States
(Brush, 2011; Websdale & Johnson, 2007).

In addition, studies suggest that custody, protection and family laws
fail to provide IPV survivors with the conditions they need to advance
their economic independence. For example, many women in Winter’s
(2015) study mentioned the ineffectiveness of restraining orders to pro-
tect themselves from further violence and harassment by the abuser,
and their inability to protect themselves by relocating away from their
1 The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA),
which was passed in Congress in 1996, ended sixty years of federal entitlement to income
assistance for poor mothers and children. It was designed to move welfare recipients into
the paid labor market by restricting lifetime cash benefits to five years (or less), mandating
work requirements after two years (or less), strengthening measures for establishing pa-
ternity and enforcing child support, and rewarding states that reduced out-of-wedlock
births without increasing abortion (see Brandwein, 1999; Brush, 2003).

2 The FVO was enacted as an amendment of the PRWORA to address IPV issues among
welfare recipients. It aims to promote safety and self-sufficiency by helping women re-
ceive proper IPV services and access economic resources, such as public benefits and em-
ployment. However, the optional nature of the FVO has resulted in inconsistent
implementation among states and counties (Brandwein, 1999; Brush, 2011; Hahn &
Postmus, 2014).
children’s abusive father, due to family law. Thus, the women suggested
that legal services prioritized the father’s contact with their child over
considerations of their own safety and that of the child.

3.3.2. Public services
Researchers have concluded that the privatization of social services

and cutbacks in state funding – and the consequent transfer of the bur-
den of childcare, transportation, housing and professional training from
public services to individuals and market forces – has undermined the
ability of IPV survivors to develop economic independence, and indeed
has increased their economic dependence on their violent partners
(Brush, 2011; Scott et al., 2002). For example, the growing shortage in
both housing and in protection solutions for IPV survivors (e.g., shelter,
transitional housing (means that they must uproot themselves and
move to a distant shelter or hiding place. In some cases, this departure
must be effected in a hurry, resulting in the woman leaving behind all
her belongings and economic assets (Davis, 1999). Such frequent
moves also result in frequent job turnover and economic instability,
making it more difficult for the women to forge social ties, receive com-
munity support, or integrate into the workplace in the new and unfa-
miliar environment (Moe & Bell, 2004). Indeed there is evidence that
due to structural housing problems in the United States and the short-
age of affordable public housing, IPV survivors sometimes return to
their abusive partners after leaving the shelter (Websdale & Johnson,
2007). This difficulty was more pronounced among survivors in remote
rural areas, where the provision of public services and access to them is
even more restricted (Websdale & Johnson, 2007).

Furthermore, it was found that front-line workers in public welfare
offices often act arbitrarily, and held stereotypical views as to why the
applicants were appealing for their help. For example, in their study,
Lindhorst et al. (2010) found that nearly half the welfare caseworkers
offered no helpful strategies whatsoever—instead, they ignored disclo-
sures of abuse, tried to talk clients out of accessing FVO services, or re-
ferred them to other workers without further engagement. A similar
trend was found in a study conducted in England: women who present-
ed themselves as homeless to local authority housing departments re-
ported that housing officers were unsympathetic and seemed
“uninterested” in their histories of domestic violence—or failed to un-
derstand, and/or assumed that the women were lying. Thus, partici-
pants reported having to spend their energies on “fighting the [social
services] system” that is often unsupportive or even hinders their reha-
bilitation (Kelly et al., 2014).

3.3.3. Labor market
Beyond the unique obstacles posed by being in a violent relationship,

the realities of the labor market appear to discourage women who are
welfare recipients and IPV survivors from developing economic inde-
pendence through gainful employment. Employment patterns of
women in general are consistently and significantly characterized by
part-time job, temporary work, work in small organizations, low job se-
curity, low pay, few social benefits, little or no union protection, and
limited access to in-house professional training, compared with that of
men (See Brady & Kall, 2008; Grimshaw & Rubery, 2007; Vosko,
MacDonald, & Campbell, 2009). These findings have led researchers to
discuss the gendered nature of the growing phenomenon of in-work
poverty (Pena-Casas & Ghailani, 2011). Indeed, researchers who have
examined the job quality of IPV survivors after attending WTW pro-
grams note that most of these women engage in unstable employment,
with low pay and without promotion prospects, which does not free
them from dependence on their partner or on welfare (Brush, 2011;
Websdale & Johnson, 2007; Winter, 2015). One explanation offered is
that the labor market is tailored to cater to white males who are abso-
lutely dedicated to their work and free of family or other obligations,
thereby entrenching inequality regimes based on gender, class and
race (Acker, 2006).

131E. Peled, K. Krigel / Aggression and Violent Behavior 31 (2016) 127–135
The insensitivity of employers to the unique needs of IPV survivors
may be seen as an extension of this more general state of affairs. For ex-
ample, studies have found employers lay off women who do not show
up for work—even when this is due to their search for a shelter follow-
ing a domestic violence incident, or need to attend court hearings or to
meet other related bureaucratic obligations (Moe & Bell, 2004). Despite
evidence of the high economic costs incurred by organizations due to
IPV (Swanberg, Logan, & Macke, 2005), managers still view it as the vic-
tims’ personal problem, rather than a social issue that requires the de-
velopment of formal organizational policies to provide assistance to
the survivors (Swanberg, Ojha, & Macke, 2012). Thus, despite a growing
awareness of the importance of workplace support for IPV survivors
(Collins, 2011), current trends in labor market, work conditions and em-
ployers perspectives appear to place additional barriers to economic in-
dependence among IPV survivors.

4. Marginalization, oppression and inequality, and economic depen-
dence of IPV survivors

Multi-dimensional marginalization due to the intersection of various
forms of oppression and inequality may pose a further significant obsta-
cle in the efforts of IPV survivors to achieve economic independence
(Bogard, 2007; Josephson, 2007; Richie, 2007). Specifically, it has been
suggested that the personal and professional development, occupation-
al characteristics, and degree of economic independence of IPV survi-
vors are all affected by a lifetime of gendered violence, and by their
socioeconomic status and race and ethnicity.

4.1. Lifetime gendered violence

Feminist scholars argue that the high incidence of violence against
girls and women is a reflection of a culturally ingrained gender inequal-
ity, and that men use such violence to preserve their social status
(Almeida & Lockard, 2007; Websdale & Johnson, 2007). Indeed, many
studies have found that many IPV survivors have experienced gendered
violence throughout their lives. Women who are subjected to violence
in their childhood are at a higher risk of being in an abusive relationship
in adulthood, and a higher proportion of IPV survivors report having a
background of violence in their childhood, compared with other
women (Bensley, Eenwyk, & Simmons, 2003; Coid et al., 2001; Desai,
Arias, Thompson, & Basile, 2002; Gobin et al., 2013; McKinney,
Caetano, Ramisetty-Mikler, & Nelson, 2009). These cumulative experi-
ences adversely affect the women’s mental and physical health, ambi-
tions and life path, and consequently their economic and employment
prospects (Lindhorst et al., 2007; Scott-Storey, 2011).

Being subjected to violence in childhood in one’s family of origin
may result in long-term psychological harm and severe post-traumatic
disorders, that compound the post-traumatic effects of IPV in adulthood
(Gobin et al., 2013; Perez & Johnson, 2008). This psychological harm has
been found to disrupt victims’ ability to seek help and make efficient use
of readily accessible resources, which is essential to escaping the vio-
lence and to achieving personal and occupational development (Perez
& Johnson, 2008). Some studies have found that being subjected to vio-
lence in childhood is predictive of the victims’ unemployment and low
employability in the future (Lindhorst et al., 2007). It has also been
found to be associated with dropping out from school, increased depen-
dence on welfare, and lower income in adulthood (Fergusson, McLeod,
& Horwood, 2013). A study by Coid et al. (2001) found that IPV survi-
vors with a background of violence in childhood reported higher levels
of unemployment and residential instability, and lower socioeconomic
status, than IPV survivors who had not been subjected to violence in
childhood. Thus, early experience of gender violence may adversely af-
fect IPV survivors throughout their lives, and make it more difficult for
them to acquire education, work and occupational stability, thereby in-
creasing their economic dependence on their violent partners.
4.2. Socioeconomic status

In recent years there has been a growing body of knowledge linking
poverty with IPV (e.g., Brush, 2004; Goodman, Smyth, Borges, & Singer,
2009; Josephson, 2007; Pyles, 2006). Women from low-income families
who live in poor neighborhoods and on welfare support appear to be
more likely to fall victim to IPV (Bassuk, Dawson, & Huntington,
2006). For example, an extensive study of 19,000 women in several
states in the United States found that women earning less than
$25,000 a year are twice as likely to be victims of IPV than women in
higher income brackets (Goodman et al., 2009). Other studies found
that IPV survivors of low socioeconomic background suffer more vio-
lence at home, and are less likely to experience physical and economic
security, throughout their lives (Browne & Bassuk, 1997; Weis, Fine,
Proweller, Bertram, & Marusza, 2007). Similarly, it has been found that
they are more likely to work in menial work such as housekeeping,
find it harder to integrate in more financially rewarding work in the
public sphere, and are therefore less likely to reduce their economic de-
pendence on their abusive partner (Weis et al., 2007).

As previously noted, gender and social class inequality, and the
collapse of the welfare state in Western countries, have adversely
affected IPV survivors, particularly those of low socioeconomic back-
grounds (Weis et al., 2007). Even if such women do manage to join
the workforce, their low pay is likely to perpetuate their economic
dependence. Many studies have found that a large proportion of
IPV survivors are employed, but earn comparatively little, and work
in part-time jobs (not of their volition)—which further entrenches
their financial hardship (Brush, 2004; Meisel et al., 2003; Moe &
Bell, 2004; Staggs & Riger, 2005; Tolman & Wang, 2005). A low socio-
economic background (of one’s family of origin or in adulthood)
appears to increase a woman’s risk of falling into a dual trap of
violence and poverty (Brush, 2004), and reduces her chances to
develop economic independence.

4.3. Race and ethnicity

Over the years, there has been a growing recognition of the role
played by racial or ethnic origin in the prevalence of women’s
subjection to IPV (Richie, 2007). Researchers in the field have
noted the effect of racial or ethnic origin on the prevalence, charac-
teristics and intensity of such violence (Hampton, Carrillo, & Kin,
2007), as well as on the structural and institutional difficulties of
escaping it (Coker, 2007), and its attendant social stereotypes
(Weis et al., 2007). Specifically, it has been found that among
single-parent women, women of ethnic minorities are more likely
to suffer from IPV, poverty and a lack of safety and security nets
(Browne & Bassuk, 1997), and are less likely to break free of IPV
and to achieve security (Richie, 1996). American researchers have
suggested that one of the possible reasons for this is institutionalized
racial discrimination in the legal system and social services (Bogard,
2007; Brush, 2011). In addition, they found that Afro-American IPV
survivors encounter discriminatory attitudes from employers in
their efforts to develop economic independence (Danziger et al.,
2000).

In summary, studies have shown that backgrounds of gendered vio-
lence, low socioeconomic status and belonging to a racial or ethnic mi-
nority, intersect with direct and indirect effects of violence, and
heighten the difficulties faced by IPV survivors in their efforts to acquire
professional training, find and retain suitable employment, reduce their
economic dependence, and to achieve economic independence. There-
fore, it is important to continue to examine the personal and economic
development of IPV survivors who find themselves at the intersections
of socially marginalized situations (Thomas & Hall, 2008; Websdale &
Johnson, 2007), in order to understand how to help them develop eco-
nomic independence, despite the difficulties and obstacles that they
face.

4 http://socialwork.rutgers.edu/Libraries/VAWC/allstate_executive_summary_1.sflb.
ashx.

5 IDAs are savings accounts designed to help low-income people build assets and

132 E. Peled, K. Krigel / Aggression and Violent Behavior 31 (2016) 127–135
5. Intervention to foster economic independence of IPV survivors

In the final part of this paper, we critically review intervention pro-
grams for fostering economic independence among IPV survivors, and
the responses they provided to the unique needs and barriers that IPV
survivors experience. This is followed by a proposed framework for in-
tervention in this domain.

5.1. Programs for fostering economic independence among IPV survivors

Two dynamics appear to have led to the establishment of communi-
ty-based programs for the development of economic independence of
IPV survivors. Neoliberal WTW programs, as we have noted, have
been found to be ineffective in helping IPV survivors to develop eco-
nomic independence, and keep these women dangerously dependent
on their violent partner and in poverty (Scott et al., 2002; Winter,
2015). Additionally, the development of many of these programs has
coincided with a growing recognition of the economic abuse and the
economic impact of other forms of IPV on survivors (Postmus et al.,
2016). New programmatic efforts have been designed to give women
more access to knowledge, skills and institutional structures and re-
sources that may support economic independence (Sanders, 2013;
Sanders, 2014). Most of these programs are local and are not document-
ed in academic research, and therefore beyond the scope of this article.
In our literature review, we found description and evaluation data for
only two pioneering US-based programs designed specifically for IPV
survivors: Moving Ahead Through Financial Management (Postmus et
al., 2012) and Realizing Your Economic Action Plan (Sanders, 2014).

5.1.1. “Moving ahead through financial management”
The purpose of this program is to improve the economic function of

IPV survivors, and to provide them with supportive tools to increase
their economic independence (Postmus et al., 2012). The program was
conducted at organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico,
and its evaluation monitored 120 graduates of the program approxi-
mately a year after it ended, at 15 shelters for IPV survivors throughout
the United States. The study centered on the following sought out-
comes: understanding financial principles; building a financial base; un-
derstanding economic abuse and power relations; creating the long-
term conditions for economic success; and adopting sound financial
strategies. It found a significant increase in economic proficiency, eco-
nomic empowerment, and economic independence among the partici-
pants (Postmus et al., 2012). Specifically, it found that after the
program, 88% of its graduates were able to identify economic abuse
and violence; 88% were able to formulate personal economic goals;
76% were able to draw up a budget for themselves for the first time;
71% had begun to pay off debts; 64% were able to examine their credit
history; and 22% had started a savings account for retirement (Hahn &
Postmus, 2014).

We have examined the extent to which existing programs address
the unique obstacles to economic independence faced by IPV
survivors—namely, violent and intentional intervention by the male
partner; health impairments due to subjection to violence; structural
obstacles; and marginalization, oppression and inequality. An analysis
of the program’s curriculum3 and operating principles suggests that it
focuses on addressing the obstacles arising from the partner’s violent
behavior. For example, the program instructs the participants on how
to plan the financial aspects of the separation or divorce process; how
to get access to financial resources; how to open a separate bank ac-
count and transfer money and savings into it, while protecting oneself
against future economic actions by their abusive partner. There appears
to be no specific reference to barriers related to mental or physical
health impairments, but these may have been addressed as part of the
3 http://www.clicktoempower.org/newsroom/moving-ahead-curriculum.
emotional therapeutic intervention provided to the women at the shel-
ter where the program was implemented. There is a partial reference to
structural obstacles: participants are instructed, among other things, on
how to use protective orders to increase their financial security; on
measures to reduce the impact of the partner in the labor market and
in the workplace; on the legal proceedings for divorce; and on access
to government and private funding for the purpose of acquiring an ed-
ucation. Conspicuous by its absence is a reference to barriers resulting
from marginalization, oppression and inequality. This shortfall has also
been noted by the program’s facilitators, as reported in the internal
evaluation report of the program.4
5.1.2. “Realizing your economic action plan”
This program was founded by 13 domestic violence services and 3

homeless services in a collaborative effort to develop unique financial
and economic services for low-income domestic violence survivors in
the St. Louis, MO, region. It emphasizes long-term economic develop-
ment and security for low-income women, using strategies to address
basic financial skills, empowerment and the ability to plan safely for
the future. Services include a 12-hour financial education and credit
counseling program, an Individual Development Account (IDA) for
women,5 and one-on-one ongoing economic advocacy and support ser-
vices (Sanders, 2014). Program evaluation examined the economic ed-
ucation component (Sanders, Weaver, & Schnabel, 2007) and the IDA
component (Sanders, 2014).

The financial education program covers topics such as: money and
power; drawing up a financial plan for dealing with the cost of living;
establishing a good credit record; basic familiarity and understanding
of investments and banking; and economic oppression and violence.
The program is addressed at low-income IPV survivors, instructing
them in their first economic steps, and providing them with personal as-
sistance on completion. Participants also receive information on
childcare assistance, funding for housing, and loans.6 An evaluation
study of its effectiveness looked at 32 participants and a control group
of 35 women residents at the shelter who did not take part in the pro-
gram. It found that economic self-efficacy among the participants was
significantly higher than among the women in the control group
(Sanders et al., 2007).

IDA programs provide institutional structure and financial incen-
tives to promote saving on the part of account holders by providing
matched funds from public or private sources. These savings can then
be used for asset development, including homeownership, postsecond-
ary or career-enhancing education, and microenterprise development
(Sanders, 2014). The evaluation of this specialized pioneering IDA pro-
gram gauged whether low-income IPV survivors managed to save and
to acquire assets when they had been provided with the IDA’s institu-
tional support. It comprises 125 IPV survivors that participated in the
IDA program after completing the financial education component. Over-
all, the findings demonstrate that low-income women who are survi-
vors of IPV can successfully save and acquire assets when they have
access to institutional support and resources. However, African-Ameri-
can women had a lower incidence of reaching their savings goal or mak-
ing a matched-funding purchase, and had less savings, compared with
white women and Latina women. The study also found that women
with more education and income had greater savings on average,
achieved their savings goals more frequently, and received at least one
incidence of matched funding (Sanders, 2014).

An analysis of this two-component program in light of the obstacles
faced by survivors of IPV suggests that it addresses barriers stemming
from the behavior of the abusive partner and aims to tackle social and
achieve greater long-term financial security.
6 http://www.row-stl.org/reap-curriculum-2.

http://www.clicktoempower.org/newsroom/moving-ahead-curriculum

http://socialwork.rutgers.edu/Libraries/VAWC/allstate_executive_summary_1.sflb.ashx

http://socialwork.rutgers.edu/Libraries/VAWC/allstate_executive_summary_1.sflb.ashx

http://www.row-stl.org/reap-curriculum-2

133E. Peled, K. Krigel / Aggression and Violent Behavior 31 (2016) 127–135
structural barriers. However, its response to obstacles to economic inde-
pendence of IPV survivors arising from health impairments, life-long
gender-based violence and racial background is unclear. In addition,
one must consider that IPV survivors who complete only the financial
education component of the program remain with little support in
achieving economic independence in the face of structural barriers
and obstacles arising from marginalization, oppression and inequality.

In conclusion, notwithstanding the pioneering contribution of the
reviewed programs to fostering economic independence among IPV
survivors and to raising public and academic awareness of the subject,
there is still a need for a broader and more inclusive intervention frame-
work to address the various barriers faced by these women. In the final
part of this article, we propose a broad intervention framework for facil-
itating the economic independence of IPV survivors, based on the
reviewed and analyzed literature. This intervention framework may
be used by practitioners, as well as a conceptual basis for further re-
search in this domain.

5.2. Intervention framework for helping IPV survivors develop economic
independence

The proposed inclusive intervention framework is designed to help
IPV survivors to develop economic independence, by challenging the
unique barriers they face, based on existing intervention knowledge in
this domain, as specified above. It offers principles for action in four
key areas: material/economic, structural/social, emotional and educa-
tional/occupational. While the scope of this article precludes an in-
depth exploration of each of these aspects, we believe that a compre-
hensive conceptualization of multilevel intervention strategies in this
domain is necessary to provide an adequate social response to women
who are IPV survivors.

5.2.1. The material/economic domain
As previously noted, IPV survivors suffer from both economic abuse

and tactical job interference by their abusive partners. Hence, any pro-
gram in this domain should facilitate the development of economic em-
powerment. Such programs should include the acquisition of basic
financial knowledge and skills (e.g., opening and managing a bank ac-
count, planning a family budget, understanding a paycheck), and
more advanced ones (e.g., dealing with debt, retirement savings, under-
standing credit programs, obtaining financial resources). In addition to
financial education, programs should also help women develop long-
term economic efficacy and well-being, by providing instruction on
how to gain access to material resources, acquire and retain property as-
sets, and saving for the long term (see Sanders, 2013, 2014). At present,
provision of this crucial material and long-term support to IPV survivors
appears to be very limited.

IPV survivors who opt to leave their abusive partner face tremen-
dous economic difficulties (Sanders & Schnabel, 2006). Intervention
with women in this situation should provide them and their children
with the immediate requisite material needs. While there are provisions
for many of these needs at community shelters and in the two programs
reviewed, their scope and coverage should be expanded so that they are
an integral part of the service packages provided to each IPV survivor
who chooses to leave their abusive partner. Furthermore, the interven-
tion must also be designed to take into account material responses dur-
ing the periods of professional training and initial integration into work
(Brandwein, 1999; Brush, 2011; Davis, 1999). Lacking the extra money
needed for transportation and babysitting for children may hinder the
integration of IPV survivors into a workplace or an educational program,
and consequently the development of their economic independence, as
well.

5.2.2. The structural/social domain
As suggested, intervention with IPV survivors must go beyond the

personal, the familial and the cultural, to address the contribution of
structural factors to women’s economic dependence. While the
reviewed programs have provided important responses to certain struc-
tural barriers, there is, as yet, no comprehensive, wide-ranging structur-
al response to help IPV survivors develop economic independence. Such
intervention should include the following principles of action: (a) rais-
ing awareness of the phenomenon of economic abuse in the general
population, especially among social workers and social services who
are not always aware of its existence or of possible responses to it
(Lindhorst et al., 2010), such as local community initiatives; (b) tailor-
ing programs to the unique cultural characteristics of women of margin-
alized populations, in terms of language, customs, nationality, etc. (Haj-
Yahia & Sadan, 2008); (c) lobbying politicians and decision-makers to
promote legislation in the field—such as changes in family law which
currently poses a barrier to economic advancement of women
(Winter, 2015); toughening punishment of abusive men and strength-
ening and maintaining protection orders (Brush, 2011); (d) developing
inter-disciplinary partnerships and involving community officials such
as those of social services, higher education, and professional and occu-
pational training, as an integral part of intervention programs, to im-
prove the accessibility of such institutions to IPV survivors (Pyles,
2006; Websdale & Johnson, 2007); and working with enterprise-level
employers to help IPV survivors integrate in the workplace, while work-
ing to eliminating prejudices about them; (e) promoting organizational
recognition of the violence perpetrated against women by their part-
ners and make it an integral part of Human Resources training
(Collins, 2011), as has been done with the issue of sexual harassment
in the workplace; and (f) advancing legislation and raising of public
awareness, to prevent sanctions against or dismissal of women who
are absent from work while they seek refuge in a shelter or as a result
of partner violence at work.

5.2.3. The emotional domain
Actions to promote economic independence cannot be separated

from the attendant emotional aspects of violence and its consequences,
therefore every plan must adequately address the participants’ emo-
tional needs. Indeed, emotional treatment – be it individual or group-
based – has been found to make a major contribution to fostering em-
ployment among IPV survivors who seek help in shelters (Websdale &
Johnson, 2007). While the literature in this field highlights the toll of
emotional and mental consequences of the violence on developing eco-
nomic independence, existing programs do not provide a comprehen-
sive response to this barrier. However, the programs do address the
development of the participants’ economic efficacy, which may also in-
creases their self-confidence and self-esteem (Sanders, 2013). Future
interventions aimed at promoting the economic empowerment and in-
dependence of IPV survivors must account for and respond to the men-
tal and emotional damage of IPV through: (a) emotional
treatment—with particular focus on the post-traumatic effects and
other mental distress that the woman may experience (Gobin et al.,
2013) due to the IPV and life-time gender-based violence; (b) support
groups of women of similar backgrounds of IPV (Websdale & Johnson,
2007); and (c) supportive intervention for the woman’s children that
addresses her needs as a mother (Dutton et al., 2006; Peled,
Davidson-Arad, & Perel, 2010), in recognition of the substantial de-
mands that childcare makes of a mother, which make it difficult for
her to focus on pursuing her economic independence.

5.2.4. The educational/occupational domain
While past interventions designed to promote employment of IPV

survivors in the United States have not proven successful (Brush,
2011; Hahn & Postmus, 2014; Lindhorst et al., 2010; Winter, 2015), it
is widely believed that employment and professional education are
the key components of programs aimed at promoting economic inde-
pendence among IPV survivors (Pyles, 2006; Thomas & Hall, 2008). As
previously noted, existing programs include certain interventions de-
signed to meet educational and occupational goals (Postmus et al.,

134 E. Peled, K. Krigel / Aggression and Violent Behavior 31 (2016) 127–135
2012; Sanders et al., 2007). To these we would add the following princi-
ples of action: (a) participation in the program should be voluntary,
with no economic sanctions placed on survivors, in view of the pres-
sures and the volatility surrounding their lives (Winter, 2015); b) em-
phasis should be placed on quality of the job, with regard to wages,
long-term job security, social benefits and working conditions
(Osterman, 2013), to avoid the common channeling of women to
deskilling, low-wage jobs, with low job stability; (c) offer participants
long-term vocational assistance in navigating their way within shifting
labor markets and occupational trends; (d) provide adequate profes-
sional training to suit the skills and qualifications of the IPV survivor,
and subsidized (or fully funded), including attendant expenses; (e)
offer participants personal mentoring in their search for work and in
the early stages of their integration into the workforce, and/or individu-
al coaching and guidance in the first years thereafter, to ensure that they
remain in their job and advance in it (Stylianou et al., 2013); and (f) sup-
port the development of nontraditional occupations and business entre-
preneurship, to help the women combine financially rewarding work
with flexibility in working hours, childcare and housekeeping (Pyles,
2006).

6. Summary and conclusions

This article sought to stimulate the awareness of the academic and
professional community of the complex and close links between
women’s experience of IPV and their difficulties in developing a path
to economic independence. As noted, the literature on the treatment,
support and rehabilitation of IPV survivors has mainly focused on the
crisis and the emotional consequences of the violence and its legal as-
pects. Too little has been written about how to promote the long-term
financial security of these women (Hahn & Postmus, 2014). However,
in recent years the literature on the economic aspects of IPV has ex-
panded. This article provides an extensive review of the literature in
the field, and conceptualizes the main obstacles impeding IPV survivors
to develop economic independence. These barriers encompass and ad-
versely affect IPV survivors through the various micro-, meso-, exo-
and macro-ecological systems surrounding them. Identifying these
multi-level barriers, coupled with a critical review of two existing inter-
vention programs in this domain, lays the ground for a conceptualiza-
tion of a comprehensive framework for intervening with IPV survivors
to promote their economic independence. We hope that this tentative
framework, with its outline of the principles of action in four key areas
of intervention, will serve to instigate further and more exhaustive de-
velopment, practice, and research in this domain, and advance the cre-
ation of long-term financial security for IPV survivors.

This critical literature review has several limitations. First, it has fo-
cused on violence against women by their intimate partners. Violent re-
lationships of this sort are distinct in that they are protracted, involve
the dynamics of an intimate couple, and the persistent control and op-
pression of the woman by the man in a manner that ensures that the
woman remains emotionally and economically dependent on him.
Omitted from this review is literature on the economic ramifications
of women’s subjection to other types of violence (such as rape, incest,
and sexual harassment at work)—or by a woman partner. As noted
above, women may be subjected to several kinds of violence at once,
and such compounded exposure may affect their economic dependence
and ability to develop economic independence in other ways. Therefore,
further critical literature reviews are needed to examine the economic
repercussions of other common forms of violence that women are sub-
jected to, and to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the combined ef-
fects of several kinds of gender violence. In addition, most of the
literature we have reviewed is based on studies conducted in the United
States. There is a need for studies that analyze and gauge the effect of the
particular structural and social obstacles in various other countries and
cultures on the economic dependency and independence of IPV survi-
vors. Finally, future studies should examine how various types of gender
violence structure the development of paths to economic dependence
and independence.

Acknowledgments

We thank Women’s Spirit for funding an earlier draft of this article.

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The path to economic independence among survivors of intimate partner violence: A critical review of the literature and cou…
1. Introduction
2. Key terms
2.1. Economic dependence

3. Causes of economic dependence and obstacles to achieving economic independence among IPV survivors
3.1. Violent and intentional intervention by the male partner
3.1.1. Intentional harm by the violent partner is designed to sabotage the�woman’s efforts and chances of integrating in th…
3.1.2. Economic control and exploitation by the violent partner occurs when he sabotages the victim’s development toward ec…
3.1.3. Family, social, and community isolation of women by their violent partners is another factor hampering their economi…

3.2. Health impairments due to subjection to violence
3.3. Structural obstacles
3.3.1. Policy and law
3.3.2. Public services
3.3.3. Labor market

4. Marginalization, oppression and inequality, and economic dependence of IPV survivors
4.1. Lifetime gendered violence
4.2. Socioeconomic status
4.3. Race and ethnicity

5. Intervention to foster economic independence of IPV survivors
5.1. Programs for fostering economic independence among IPV survivors
5.1.1. “Moving ahead through financial management”
5.1.2. “Realizing your economic action plan”

5.2. Intervention framework for helping IPV survivors develop economic independence
5.2.1. The material/economic domain
5.2.2. The structural/social domain
5.2.3. The emotional domain
5.2.4. The educational/occupational domain

6. Summary and conclusions
Acknowledgments
References

Articles/Postmes article

Review Manuscript

Economic Abuse as an Invisible Form of
Domestic Violence: A Multicountry Review

Judy L. Postmus1, Gretchen L. Hoge2, Jan Breckenridge3,
Nicola Sharp-Jeffs4, and Donna Chung5

Abstract
The predominant perception of intimate partner violence (IPV) as constituting physical violence can still dominate, particularly in
research and media reports, despite research documenting multiple forms of IPV including sexual violence occurring between
intimate partners and various forms of psychological and emotional abuse. One frequently hidden or “invisible” form of abuse
perpetrated within intimate partner relationships is economic abuse, also referred to as financial abuse in much of the liter-
ature. While the links between gendered economic insecurity and economic abuse are emerging, there remains a lack of
consistency about definitions within the United States and globally, as there is no agreed upon index with which to measure
economic abuse. As such, the purpose of this article is to review and analyze the global literature focused on either economic
or financial abuse to determine how it is defined and what measures are used to capture its prevalence and impact. The 46 peer-
reviewed articles that met all inclusion criteria for analysis came from a range of countries across six continents. Our review
found that there is growing clarity and consistency of terminologies being used in these articles and found some consistency in
the use of validated measures. Since this research is in its “infancy,” we need to have stronger collaborative efforts to use
similar measures and terminology. Part of that collaborative effort is to consider how language and cultural differences may play
a part in our understanding of economic abuse.

Keywords
anything related to domestic violence, domestic violence, battered women

Introduction

The fact that intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant

social concern affecting a substantial number of women and

children is now undeniable, making it a gendered problem. In

most international jurisdictions, the importance of understand-

ing the needs of and responding to IPV victims is clearly under-

stood. Establishing the prevalence of all forms of violence

against women (VAW) has been a priority since the Conven-

tion on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against

Women,
1

adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General

Assembly (Articles 12 and 19). Most recently, the 2011 Coun-

cil of Europe Convention on preventing and combating VAW

and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention,
2

further details the importance of research intended to move

beyond prevalence in order to better understand the dynamics

of VAW in Europe (including IPV; Article 11). As a direct

result of the number of international conventions and treaties,

research on VAW, including IPV has been prioritized in many

jurisdictions ensuring a growing global evidence base.

Despite prioritizing research in this area, the predominant

focus of international and national studies to date has been on

establishing the prevalence of physical violence and/or threat.

While surely unintended, the seriousness of the effects of IPV

is most often assessed by the extent and nature of any physical

injury. This perception of IPV as primarily constituting phys-

ical violence still dominates, particularly in media reports of

IPV, regardless of reports from practitioners and victims sub-

stantiating multiple forms of abuse. Such forms include sexual

violence and various forms of psychological and emotional

abuse. In an effort to better understand the dynamics of these

latter two manifestations of IPV, many researchers argue that

1 Center on Violence Against Women and Children, School of Social Work,

Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA
2
Department of Social Work, Lewis University, Romeoville, IL, USA

3
School of Social Sciences, UNSW, Sydney, Australia

4 Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University,

London, United Kingdom
5
School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Curtin University, Perth,

Australia

Corresponding Author:

Judy L. Postmus, Center on Violence Against Women and Children, School of

Social Work, Rutgers University, 390 George Street, Suite 408, New Bruns-

wick, NJ 08901, USA.

Email: postmus@ssw.rutgers.edu

TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE
2020, Vol. 21(2) 261-283
ª The Author(s) 2018
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/1524838018764160
journals.sagepub.com/home/tva

mailto:postmus@ssw.rutgers.edu

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https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838018764160

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the context in which violence and abuse occur in intimate

partnerships—frequently referred to as contexts of “coercive

control” (Stark, 2007), is critical. This is where abusers use a

variety of tactics to maintain control over their partners by

forcing physical, emotional, and financial dependency and pro-

ducing a continual fear which prevents women from challen-

ging their actions. Women forced into such dependency are at

greater risk, according to the marital dependency theory (Vyas

& Watts, 2008) and the interdependence theory (Rusbult &

Van Lange, 2003), of being trapped in the relationship. This

explains why women report that economic concerns are one of

their top reasons why leaving the abuser is so difficult (Sanders

& Schnabel, 2006; Strube, 1988). It is precisely the relational

and gendered context of IPV that makes these tactics hard to

detect because the “means and effects . . . are easily confused
with the range of sacrifices women are expected to make in

their roles as homemakers, parents and sexual partners” (Stark,

2007, p. 230).

One frequently hidden or “invisible” form of abuse perpe-

trated within intimate partner relationships is economic or

financial abuse. Practitioners and emerging qualitative research

have for some time recognized that IPV contributes to

“poverty, financial risk and financial insecurity for women,

sometimes long after the relationship has ended” (Braaf &

Barrett Meyering, 2010, p. 5). From this perspective, economic

insecurity is framed as a likely consequence of IPV for women

leaving a violent relationship at the time of separation and in its

aftermath. Although identified early on by practitioners in the

IPV field as a fundamental underpinning of coercive control,

only relatively recently has economic abuse been conceptua-

lized as separate from emotional and psychological abuse—

albeit with some overlap (Stylianou, Postmus, & McMahon,

2013). Corrie and McGuire (2013) suggest that we are yet to

fully establish the prevalence of economic abuse, in part,

because victims may have difficulty distinguishing economi-

cally abusive patterns from the economic insecurity they expe-

rience as women.

Economic insecurity is, without doubt, a gendered issue

with factors such as the gendered nature of care, the under-

valuing of women’s paid and unpaid work, and workforce dis-

crimination all contributing to women consistently

experiencing poorer social and economic outcomes throughout

their life course. Given that existing prevalence data provide

evidence of gender asymmetry in victimization and perpetra-

tion of IPV, it is not a surprise that economic abuse is com-

pounded by the context of women’s economic insecurity more

generally. It is also possible that victims do not always under-

stand the ongoing consequences and extent of the damage

caused by economic abuse prior to leaving the relationship and

so may fail to recognize economic abuse as a form of IPV

during the relationship.

While the links between gendered economic insecurity and

economic abuse are emergent at best (Corrie, 2016), there

remains a lack of consistency about definitions within the

United States and globally, as there is no agreed index with

which to measure economic abuse, underscoring the purpose of

this article. As with all measures of social concerns, definitions

do matter and it is here that the research can lack precision. The

choice of different terms defined in slightly different ways, and

the interchange of terms at other times has had the unintended

effect of diluting the evidence base. The lack of definitional

clarity also means it is difficult to measure whether service and

policy responses are dealing appropriately with the issue, if at

all. As such, the purpose of this article is to determine how the

peer-reviewed global literature defines and measures economic

or financial abuse to then highlight implications based on an

analysis of the literature. The questions framing this study

include (1) how do researchers define economic/financial

abuse? and (2) how do researchers measure economic/financial

abuse?

Existing Definitions of Economic Abuse
and Financial Abuse

Economic abuse has been defined as a deliberate pattern of

control in which individuals interfere with their partner’s abil-

ity to acquire, use, and maintain economic resources (Adams,

Sullivan, Bybee, & Greeson, 2008; Postmus, Plummer, McMa-

hon, Murshid, & Kim, 2012). Academics have sought to cate-

gorize the different forms that economic abuse can take. For

instance, Postmus, Plummer, and Stylianou (2016) suggest that

economic abuse involves behaviors that control, exploit, or

sabotage an individual’s economic resources including

employment.

Economic abuse and financial abuse are frequently used

interchangeably in the literature (Sharp-Jeffs, 2015b). Alterna-

tively, abuse may be described as affecting the economic or

financial security of victims of IPV or causing economic or

financial insecurity. Sharp-Jeffs (2015a) adapted the definition

of economic abuse, proposing to use the term “financial abuse”

instead of economic abuse. The distinction made here between

economic and financial abuse is that financial abuse is part of

economic abuse and involves similar behaviors; however,

financial abuse focuses specifically on individual money and

finances and not economic resources (e.g., transportation, a

place to live, employment, and education; Sharp-Jeffs,

2015a). Yount, Krause, and VanderEnde (2016) recently used

the term “economic coercion” to describe the same economic

abusive behaviors identified by others (Adams et al., 2008;

Postmus, Plummer, & Stylianou, 2016) in which an abuser

attempts to control the partner’s ability to acquire, use, and

maintain resources.

It is important to note that much of the available literature

describes a range of controlling behaviors or tactics which may

keep victims of IPV financially dependent and socially iso-

lated, often, in place of a definition. Some of the tactics of

economic abuse include reduced access to savings and assets

(Braaf & Barrett Meyering, 2010), deliberately causing hous-

ing insecurity by damaging property or not making rent or

mortgage payments (Valentine & Breckenridge, 2016), and

malicious interference with workforce and educational partic-

ipation (Breckenridge, Walden, & Flax, 2014).

262 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 21(2)

Measuring Economic Abuse

The measures used in studies on IPV may include items that ask

about forms of economic or financial abuse; however, without

identifying such abuse as a focus of the work, they fail to

reliably capture the scope, complexity, or magnitude of the

abuse. For example, Outlaw (2009) included one question

about economic abuse as part of the National Violence Against

Women Survey and then concluded that economic abuse was a

rare phenomenon, occurring less than physical abuse.

Other studies have included more than one question on

economic abuse but again, fail to identify the term as a focus

of the work. Instead, the questions are frequently integrated

into emotional or psychological abuse scales or subscales. For

example, the Abusive Behavior Inventory (ABI; Shepard &

Campbell, 1992) has two subscales—Physical and Psycholo-

gical—in which a few questions on economic abuse are part

of the Psychological Abuse subscale. Similarly, the Index of

Spouse Abuse Hudson & McIntosh, 1981) had physical and

Non-Physical Abuse subscales in which the Non-Physical

Abuse subscale included two questions on economic abuse;

however, the term was never mentioned in the