Human Services Secretary: Financial Empowerment Programs Help Survivors of Domestic Violence Gain Independence

Philadelphia, PA (STL.News) Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller Friday visited Lutheran Settlement House, a community-based organization committed to serving children, adults, and families living in Philadelphia to highlight their Economic Justice and Empowerment Initiative, a partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) that helps domestic violence survivors address immediate financial needs and work towards long-term financial stability.

“Everyone deserves to live a life where they feel empowered and, most importantly, safe,” said Sec. Miller.  “The unfortunate reality is that we know financial abuse occurs in nearly 99 percent of abusive relationships, preventing women from fleeing abuse.  No one should ever feel powerless, but programs like PCADV and Lutheran Settlement House’s Economic Justice and Empowerment Initiative provide tools to gain independence and support survivors navigating through unimaginable obstacles to achieve a better life.”

Lutheran Settlement House empowers individuals, families, and communities to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through an integrated program of social, educational, and advocacy services.  Lutheran Settlement House works with PCADV to equip advocates with best practices and tools that can save survivors from harmful situations with hopes to ultimately end domestic violence.  Among many focus areas, PCADV is working to help survivors build economic stability through training, toolkits, and resources in the Economic Justice and Empowerment Initiative.

The Economic Justice and Empowerment Initiative is a statewide, coordinated effort between PCADV and the 59 community-based domestic violence programs that create nine sites like Lutheran Settlement House to provide a comprehensive training and continual resources that help address barriers to economic stability and safety.  Tools and resources include access education, develop budgeting skills, repair credit, build savings, find affordable housing and gain meaningful employment.  More information about the initiative and its sites and outcomes is available.

“It’s common to think of domestic violence as physical abuse. Financial abuse is incredibly pervasive in these situations and is one of the most significant barriers to escaping an abusive relationship,” said Susan Higginbotham, CEO of PCADV.  “PCADV’s Economic Justice Initiative connects survivors with invaluable resources to help them rebuild empowered and autonomous lives free from abuse.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. More than 10 million people are affected by domestic violence every year.  For more information about signs of abuse, how to support survivors, and PCADV, visit www.pcadv.org.

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Helpline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).