Quick Exit

2017 Purple Purse Challenge: Economic Empowerment for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Esteban Pepin, Economic Stability Specialist at Casa Myrna

Esteban Pepin, Economic Stability Specialist 

One of the most common questions advocates like me get from the public won’t surprise you: “Why don’t victims of domestic violence just leave?” One of the biggest reasons why is that abusers make sure their partners literally can’t afford to escape. Economic abuse takes place in 99% of relationships that involve domestic violence.

The tactics of economic abuse are insidious and varied. Abusers find many ways to exert power over their partners by controlling their access to money and other resources that should be shared by the family.

Abusers often ban their partner from cashing their own paychecks, deny them access to household bank accounts, get them fired by intentionally making them late to work, force them to drop out of school, or take out credit cards in their name. Abusers may refuse to work while still controlling all of the money earned by their partner, or, conversely, forbid their partner from working to ensure that they remain isolated at home and financially dependent.

Even once a survivor gets out of an abusive relationship, economic abuse can still severely damage their ability to build a better future. Economic abuse harms survivors’ long-term career prospects, causes legal problems, and devours their savings. It can put enormous barriers in the way of becoming financially stable.

It’s my job to help survivors overcome the long-lasting effects of economic abuse. As Casa Myrna’s economic stability specialist, I work with survivors to set financial goals, find jobs, write resumes, get into job training and educational programs, learn to budget, and more.

As complicated it can be to wrangle with banks or figure out FAFSA forms, the trickiest part of my job is often economic empowerment. At first, survivors often can’t see that they’re capable of building a future worth investing in. Abusers do their best to make their victims think they’re powerless, hopeless, and helpless people who are not capable of getting by on their own.

In reality, survivors must have enormous strength and ingenuity just to get by every day in abusive situations. The daily struggle to survive often overwhelms their original goals and dreams. Even after abuse ends, survivors often struggle to imagine they can have a better future. They rarely realize how much they already know and can do.

That’s economic empowerment: realizing that you are already smart, strong, and responsible enough to start building a better future today.

Every single survivor has already achieved something amazing–and I try to help them recognize that. I tell the survivors I meet with that the strength that helped them survive abuse can also keep them moving forward. I tell them that no one understands their lives better than they do, and they are the ones with the wisdom needed to make the best decisions about their futures. By relating the principles of financial health to their daily lives, I show them that they already know what they must do in order to become financially stable and meet their goals.

You too can help survivors overcome the impact of economic abuse. This month, Casa Myrna is taking on the Allstate Foundation’sPurple Purse Challenge to raise awareness about financial abuse and ensure that survivors get the support they need to achieve their financial and career goals through economic empowerment. The more supporters like you donate, the more we’re eligible to win from the Allstate Foundation.

You can help by donating to Casa Myrna here and by spreading the word about economic abuse.

Thank you for helping make sure all survivors to get the support they need to build a better future for themselves and their families.



We believe that every relationship should be safe and healthy. What do you believe?