"While domestic violence (DV) occurs across the socio-economic spectrum, low-income survivors face unique challenges and barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. Abuse can also lead to poverty for survivors who were not previously considered low-income. The experience of domestic violence often undermines survivors’ ability to work, have a place to live, and do what is necessary to pursue a more stable life for themselves and their children. In order to exercise control over their partners, abusers often actively sabotage their partner’s economic stability by interfering with access to financial resources, employment, child care, or health care; engage in reproductive coercion; ruin their credit; leave them with tax debt; and more. Ending an abusive relationship may mean losing not only access to a partner’s income, but also housing, employment, health care, or child care.
Poverty and economic instability can also make it more difficult to cope with the physical, psychological, and financial impacts of domestic violence. Survivors often incur substantial out-of-pocket costs while navigating medical, mental health, relocation, legal, and other systems. Survivors of color, Native American survivors, and those from other underserved communities, including immigrants, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ survivors, often face intersecting issues that disproportionately exacerbate their likelihood of facing economic instability. Additionally, poverty reduces access to health care and other needed services, and increases the likelihood that people live and work in environments that adversely affect their health. For many survivors, their ability to access financial resources and to meet their very basic needs is fundamental to determining whether they can safely leave an abusive relationship.
Access to public benefits programs like housing assistance; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); health care assistance such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies; child care assistance; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and refundable tax credits help provide DV survivors with financial resources to leave an abusive relationship, heal, and establish a safer and more stable life."