So I mean my credit was a mess, I barely qualified for a car loan, I didn’t have a bad job, but it wasn’t enough to get a handle on, it wasn’t enough to run the household, pay the car, electric, water, everything. So thank god for Mid-Shore, I don’t know where I’d be. So they got me in that house, yeah, that was such a huge day.

MSCFV Client

What is Economic Abuse?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, between 94-99% of domestic violence survivors have experienced some form of economic abuse, when an abuser takes control of or limits access to shared or individual assets or limit the current or future earning potential of the victim as a strategy of power and control. As a result of violence or abuse, victims may face:

  • Dependency on the abuser to provide for basic needs for their family.
  • Eviction and damaged tenant history due to law enforcement involvement.
  • Debt from healthcare, moving costs, the justice system, replacing property.
  • Damaged credit from abuser(s) trying to financially cripple the victim.
  • Unauthorized use of financial resources, falsification of records or coercion into crime.

Financial dependence is a major factor causing victims to stay in abusive relationships. The Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence Economic Empowerment Center connects victims of domestic abuse to the services they need to help them regain self-sufficiency and financial freedom,” said Glenn Fueston, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention.

Upon enrolling in MSCFV’s Economic Empowerment Program, 54% of survivors reported having trouble meeting basic needs recently, e.g. running out of food, unable to afford health care or medicine, and having utilities cut off. 53% reported debt difficulties and 75% were unable to handle a financial emergency that cost more than $200.

MSCFV’s Economic Empowerment Center

The Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence Economic Empowerment Program team works to identify and address the economic and consumer law needs of its clients, to create the knowledge and partnerships necessary to effectively address these needs, and to develop a replicable program that can be duplicated across Maryland.

Economic Empowerment Activities include:

  • Consumer Law
  • Custody/Child Support
  • Debtor/Creditor
  • Expungement
  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Taxes
  • Mortgage
  • Motor Vehicle Administration Issues, including license acquisition
  • Foreclosure
  • Credit Counseling

Victims working with MSCFV Case Managers are eligible to participate in the Economic Empowerment Program to identify and address their unique economic empowerment service needs.

Results of MSCFV's Economic Empowerment Program

In the first three years of the Economic Empowerment Program, the MSCFV team worked with 298 family violence survivors and provided free legal representation for 307 economic abuse related cases. The overall financial benefits to victims included:

  • $1.2 Million in lump sum payments
  • $650 Thousand in cost savings
  • $121 Thousand in monthly benefits (primarily child support and family maintenance)

In Fiscal Year 2020, a total of 72 legal cases were closed in our EEC program. A total of 32 clients received some type of monetary benefit from our EEC program, with 12 receiving a lump sum payment, 5 a monthly benefit and 17 some type of cost savings. In FY2020, EEC clients’ monetary benefits totaled $375,246, including $206,599 in lump sum payments, $164,830 in cost savings and $3,817 in monthly payments.

MSCFV’s economic empowerment services are critical because many victims have experienced financial consequences of the abuse they suffered. As Figure 16 illustrates, most survivors have pending legal cases, have applied for public assistance, and have debt difficulties. Three out of ten say they struggle to pay their utilities.

When we compare the Ability to Meet Basic Needs scale at program exit to the form clients completed on program entry, we find that 69% show improvement in their family’s financial situation. Additional outcomes are highlighted in the chart below.