Grant provides support for domestic violence victims

Jason Henry and Jason Henry

The Ohio Domestic Violence Network is dividing a $50,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation among four Ohio domestic violence organizations, including $7,750 for Bowling Green’s Cocoon Shelter.

The funds, which will be used to help domestic violence survivors deal with economic abuse, are part of a $635,000 national grant awarded to 11 states.

“Part of what it does is it creates savings accounts for victims of domestic violence, so if they start to save money, this grant will actually match that money up to a certain amount,” said Nancy Neylon, Executive Director of ODVN. “It would give them a head start in getting started with their lives again.”

Neylon said the goal is to get money directly into the hands of victims. She said during a similar program attempted two years ago, one county gave ten domestic violence victims $1,000.

“A year later, they followed up and nine out of ten of those women, just with that little bit of extra money, were able to get out and stay out of an abusive relationship, maintain jobs, maintain housing, maintain their kids, with just a tiny amount of extra money,” she said. “It is that kind of thing that can really make a difference in a woman’s life.”

The other state programs receiving the grant are the Toledo YWCA, the Alliance Domestic Violence Shelter and the Cincinnati YWCA.

According to the Allstate Foundation’s Web site, it has awarded over $12 million to domestic violence organizations since 2005 in support of economic empowerment.

Deidra Bennett, Cocoon’s Special Projects Coordinator, said this grant will allow the shelter to give $3 for every $1 saved, giving $750 maximum after participants save $250.

Because many victims of domestic violence are also abused financially, they are left with few options, she said. An abuser may ruin the victim’s credit, refuse to let them establish a job history or control all finances in the relationship.

“That is something that can last years and years,” Bennett said. “The bruises and the emotional abuse you can get counseling for, you can heal from those things. If someone destroys your credit, it can take ten years to rebuild and become financially sound again.”

Along with the grant money, the Allstate Foundation and National Network to End Domestic Violence developed a curriculum to help women become and stay financially stable.

“We are going to be offering a financial empowerment and financial education group with that curriculum,” she said. “The people who participate in that group, and who want to do one-on-one support as well, will be eligible for the matched savings programs.”

Only those who commit to the program will be able to participate, Bennett said.

She said the shelter plans to start the first sessions in the next few months, but details are still being worked out. The grant only lasts until September, so there will be a quick turnaround, Bennett said.