On March 16th President Biden signed the Violence Against Women Act which was in legislative limbo since it expired two years ago. This is just in time, as Women’s History Month is nearing a close.
The law aims to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It will expand protections for survivors and provide more resources and training programs for law enforcement, while funding rape crisis centers. As a result, survivors will have greater access to legal services, and new programs and initiatives.
The act’s renewal has an added urgency because of the alarming spike in domestic violence since the onset of the COVID pandemic in January 2020. In the U.S., police departments report increases in domestic violence incidents in most cities. For example, reports show an 18% increase in domestic violence in San Antonio, 22% in Portland, Ore., and 10% in New York City.
Savvy Ladies, a non-profit organization that brings free financial planning and education to women, serves many of these women on a pro bono basis. The Savvy Ladies’ Executive Director, Judy Herbst, shares that they are seeing a significant increase in the number of women reaching out to the Savvy Ladies’ Financial Helpline. Herbst notes, “Many women coming to Savvy Ladies are domestic abuse survivors and struggling with financial abuse. These women want to leave their relationships but are rendered powerless because they do not have access to funds. As a result, they are in very tenuous financial situations.”
Stacy Francis, the Founder of Savvy Ladies, understands how physical and financial abuse are inextricably linked and can turn deadly. Growing up, Francis witnessed her grandmother remaining in an abusive relationship. When Francis was old enough to ask “why,” her grandmother explained that she stayed because she believed there was no other choice, as she lacked the financial stability to change her situation.
The free financial helpline continues to assist thousands of women in attaining the information and resources they need to lead a financially secure life. Financial-expert volunteers can answer a myriad of questions covering financial abuse, divorce and money, family finances and small business planning, budgeting and debt management (including credit cards), retirement and investing/saving, school loans, career financial planning, home/rental financial arrangements, and other critical financial questions many women have. Francis shares, “Savvy Ladies provides the opportunity to all women to learn and safely ask questions, with no shame, but with support to help you find the right financial path forward.”
The Savvy Ladies Free Financial Helpline can be accessed here.