After a financially abusive relationship, the road to financial well-being can be overwhelming. But it is not impossible.  According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 99% of domestic violence survivors also suffer financial abuse and they have the additional challenge of rebuilding their financial lives.

Financial abuse can leave survivors with far-reaching, devastating costs, and sometimes it takes years to rebuild financially.

After living in a domestic violence relationship where financial abuse is present, survivors may encounter the following:

• a lack of savings,

• damaged credit,

• debt,

• lack of a stable income and

• lack of confidence in financial decisions.

All of these challenges may overwhelm survivors, and some may choose to go back to live with their abusers. For those still living with their abusers, the decision is distressing because they may have to decide between staying in the relationship or facing homelessness.

All of this may seem disheartening. But survivors have many options. Economic empowerment programs exist to educate, support and provide services to help survivors on their financial healing journey.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s Leadership and Economic Advancement Program (LEAP) provides financial education, financial coaching, housing and employment services to start and support their journeys. YWCA strongly believes that a woman with economic power can provide dignity for herself and her children, and she can be an active member of the community.

The impossible becomes possible when survivors work on their own financial well-being alongside a counselor, a financial coach or an educator who can support and encourage them to move forward.

Women become empowered when they have a stable source of income, learn how to budget, and work on building or repairing their credit. When they have savings, they have hope that their journey to financial healing will bring a more secure future. They can take pride that their efforts will bring them closer to a thriving financial life free from financial abuse.

For more information about YWCA’s economic empowerment programs, go to www.ywca-ens.org/womens-empowerment.

Fabiola Alfonso is the Financial Education Specialist at the YWCA Evanston/North Shore.