Savings for Survivors: An Individual Development Account Program for Survivors of Intimate-Partner Violence

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Survivors of domestic violence often remain in abusive relationships due to limited economic resources, economic dependence on an abusive partner, and economic abuse. Viewing women who have experienced domestic violence as "survivors" suggests that when provided access to appropriate resources, they will seek help and utilize such resources allowing them to increase their stability and potentially escape an abusive partner. Assets have been shown to have a variety of positive associations with a wide range of economic, social, and psychological outcomes. Economic initiatives, such as financial education and individual development accounts (IDAs), aimed toward survivors of domestic violence are on the rise. However, to date, there are few studies. Data on IDA activity, including savings rates, withdrawals, and asset purchases, for 125 women who participated in an IDA matched-savings program for survivors of intimate-partner violence were examined. Approximately 2/3 of women reached their savings goal and 76% made at least 1 matched-savings withdrawal and asset purchase. Results suggest survivors can be successful savers and purchase assets that may contribute to their economic stability. Implications are discussed, including the need for long-term studies to examine how participation in a matched-savings program affects women's well-being, safety, and future experiences of intimate-partner violence.