Every time Aleah tried to leave or hide, her abusive partner tracked her down. Eventually, one of his violent outbursts left her with a traumatic brain injury and a growing stack of medical bills. When he landed in jail for the assault, Aleah was also left to pay their shared rent and the other bills. She tried to find work, but jobs were scarce during the first months of the pandemic. Then her doctor declared her unable to work for at least a few months while she healed from her brain injury.
Aleah was months behind on her rent when she reached out to LifeWire for financial help. Despite the eviction moratorium, her landlord pressed her weekly about paying the back rent accumulated since her assault. Aleah told her advocate that she didn’t know where else to go for help. She had immigrated to the U.S. from the Middle East for school nearly a decade before, leaving most of her family behind.
To give Aleah the stability she needed to address her health and other DV-related issues, LifeWire paid her rent twice. When her abuser got out of jail and assaulted her again, Aleah called her advocate for help with crisis safety planning. She worked with her LifeWire legal advocate to get a Domestic Violence Protection Order. In the process, Aleah learned how to advocate for herself if she needed to call the police on her abuser again. Equipped with a better understanding of the American legal system, Aleah found a low-cost lawyer to support her case.
Feeling safer, Aleah worked with her advocate on becoming economically stable. She connected with the additional health services she needed to heal and applied for medical bill relief. Aleah finally felt able to sleep at night when she connected with Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) – King County, which will help repay her back rent. Aleah is still recovering from her head injury, but she hopes to find a new job soon. She recently told her advocate, “I’m doing really well.”
We support survivors:
LifeWire partners with survivors on their individual journeys toward renewed strength, stability, and empowerment. Our advocates listen to survivors as they describe their needs and help them identify resources that will enable them to build safer lives. By tailoring our support to each survivor, we are able to respond to survivors’ unique barriers, challenges, and goals.
Help us ensure that LifeWire’s Advocacy Services are here for every survivor who needs them when they need them.
Thanks to your support, last year:
969 survivors worked one-on-one with a LifeWire advocate to heal from physical, financial, emotional, and other forms of abuse.
209 participants received support from LifeWire’s Legal Advocacy services team for domestic violence-related issues, including Protection Orders and custody challenges.
158 adults, children, and youth received domestic violence-informed mental health therapy to heal form their experiences.
When people think about domestic abuse, most people think about verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. Few people think about economic or financial abuse. Economic abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse, occurring in 99% of domestic violence situations.
Economic abuse occurs when one partner controls another’s ability to be financially independent. The lack of financial control or resources often prevents survivors from leaving.
Layla’s husband controlled just about every part of her life. She had a part-time job because he wouldn’t let her work full-time—it was harder to monitor her when she worked. He controlled not only her paycheck but all of their money. Her name wasn’t even on their accounts, and he made her beg when she needed to buy essentials like food, soap, or toilet paper.
The abuse continued even after Sophie left her husband. But instead of attacking her with criticism, threats, or physical violence, he targeted her bank account.
Sophie felt shocked and horrified the first time it happened. Her entire paycheck was gone less than an hour after it had been deposited. She reported the fraud to both her bank and employer, but her ex continued to use a flaw in the system to drain her bank account after every pay period.
The unpaid bills quickly piled up. First, her cellphone was disconnected. Then a utility shutoff notice appeared on her door. She scrambled to pay for food and rent for both herself and her 3-year-old son.
Afraid she would lose her home, Sophie reached out to LifeWire for help. Flexible funds made it possible for Sophie to restore her cellphone service and pay her utility bill. She received help with her banking issues and no longer has to worry about her paycheck disappearing. To protect herself and her son, she’s working with a legal advocate to help with custody issues.
After months of turmoil and instability, Sophie is finally confident that things are back on track.
Throughout their marriage, Rebecca’s husband controlled every aspect of their finances. And while the lease to the house had been in both their names, he stopped paying rent to punish her. As a result, Rebecca spent many sleepless nights agonizing over the $1,800 she owed her landlord.
Ninety-eight percent of domestic violence survivors experience financial abuse. Some abusers, like Rebecca’s husband, stop making payments. Others gain power and control over their partner by limiting how they spend money, running up huge debts, or destroying their credit.
Alicia never slept in a building doorway. She and her kids never spent the night in a tent on the streets of Seattle or Bellevue. But for two years, Alicia and her family were homeless.
The eviction notice came after her abusive partner destroyed her credit by taking out loans in her name. She and her kids spent a few months couch surfing with various family and friends, never knew how long they could stay. They spent a year living out of their car. And for six months after that, they moved from shelter to shelter.
Becky met her former husband while backpacking in Australia. They married in Britain, but she followed him to the Eastside.
Looking back, Becky realized the abuse started while they were dating but became steadily worse after they married. He controlled all of their finances and criticized her for buying things even though they both had good-paying jobs.
Over time the violence became more physical. He shoved her and hit their dog. Finally, he strangled her. Becky reached out to LifeWire for safety planning and financial support as she worked to leave her abuser and start a new life.
During October’s Domestic Violence Action Month, LifeWire’s Executive Director, Rachel Krinsky, domestic violence survivor, Becky, spoke with Gary Shipe about domestic violence and you can do to help survivors.
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