By October 1, 2017 Read More →

Jeff Atwater: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month ……..

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and while it is my hope that no one is ever involved in an abusive relationship, the fact is that unfortunately it does happen in our state. Domestic violence is an issue that we must talk about — within our households, within our communities, within our state. Your L.I.F.E.

Studies have shown finances play a significant role in abusive relationships. Finances can be manipulated by an abuser to trick a survivor into staying, and a lack of financial stability can prevent a survivor from leaving. That is a fact I want to help change. It takes an unbelievable amount of courage to walk away from an abusive relationship, and I want to help ensure that survivors have the tools available to be financially successful when they do.

In an overwhelming number of abusive relationships, survivors list financial concerns as one of their top reasons for staying in or returning to an abusive relationship. In fact, that number is 98 percent, and it’s a painful statistic to hear. I feel firmly that everyone should hold the keys to their own financial future, and, by empowering survivors to gain financial independence, we hope to help end financial abuse.

That’s why my office expanded our financial literacy programs to include materials tailored to meeting the needs of domestic abuse survivors. We created the program in concert with experts in the field, and our Your L.I.F.E program, which stands for “Learn Individual Financial Empowerment,” teaches survivors about banking and budgeting, saving and spending, etc. Each chapter of our program covers the educational tools needed to claim financial stability and to provide for a better financial future.

Our program has been available for one year and while we’re working with partners across the state to get this critical information into the hands of every individual who needs it, I hope you’ll share it if you have a friend or loved one who may be in need of it. The materials are completely free, and they can be accessed through our Your Money Matter$ website, which houses all of our financial literacy programs.

If you are personally in need or if you wish to help someone you care about leave an abusive relationship, we can help. To create a safety plan with a domestic violence advocate, please call Florida’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119.

Bottom line is: if you see something, say something. It is only through education and awareness that we can work toward ending domestic violence in Florida.

 

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