Two survivors who dreamed of transforming their trauma into something meaningful founded FinAbility in October, 2020. Today, we represent over 1,000 survivors and advocates whose ideas and feedback are at the heart of our programming.
Together, we are proving what is possible when we listen to, believe in, and fund survivors. Our dream is to grow FinAbility into a holistic financial service hub, providing millions of survivors the financial products and services needed to be successful along each phase of their journey.
The FinAbility team is currently dedicated to significantly expanding the resources we offer to survivors. By 2030 we plan to offer a larger selection of financial education classes, individual financial counseling through partnerships with banks and credit unions, career counseling, and more. In the following hypothetical story, we follow the survivor Erin and explore how this future FinAbility could enable her to gain freedom from abuse.
Erin married her partner out of love, but she now stays with him out of fear. Soon after they married, Erin’s husband seized control of their finances, restricting Erin’s access to all cash, credit, and physical assets. He also coerced her into quitting her job. He then started to emotionally degrade and severely physically harm Erin. Scared for her life, Erin decides that she needs to leave her husband. But how can she do so without becoming houseless?
Erin has been with her husband for the majority of her adult life–she has no exterior support system and has very little experience managing her own finances. Cut off from her income and savings, she has nothing but a small amount of cash she has hidden from her abuser. Even if she successfully left, how could she gain financial security when she has no savings, no income, and no credit?
Fortunately for Erin, she finds FinAbility online and realizes it is just what she needs to move forward. Following advice from the FinAbility website, she clears her browser history and decides to find a more secure computer to use FinAbility’s services. While her husband is at work, Erin visits a FinAbility partner bank, where she is given a private space and a safe computer to access FinAbility's online financial services. After entering the website, Erin immediately feels seen and understood. The website is trauma-informed, survivor-specific, and easy to navigate. Erin uses the “Leaving Abuse” section of our website to create a safety plan for leaving her partner. After creating her safety plan, she uses the resources on the FinAbility website to find and apply for an interest free loan and open a bank account, where her loan can be safely dispersed.
Over the next month, Erin executes her safety plan and uses her loan to successfully move into transitional housing. In her new safe home, Erin visits the “Breathing Space” section of the FinAbility website to learn about financial trauma and begin her healing process. She sets up a meeting with one of FinAbility’s financial counselors to assess her financial health. Her new financial counselor then helps her to separate her finances from her husband. Once Erin has successfully removed her accounts and savings from her abuser’s control, she finally feels ready to begin her new life free from abuse. She starts thinking about building a new career and finding permanent housing.
For the first time in her adult life, Erin feels in control of her finances and her future. She allows herself to dream about a brighter future and begins using the “Building Your Future” section of the FinAbility website. First, she meets with a career counselor to discuss possibilities for finding a job or even pursuing higher education. She then signs up for FinAbility’s classes on financial goal setting and budgeting, and creates goals that will inform the choices she makes when exploring new career options. She also enrolls in credit building and debt management services to improve her overall financial health. In this module, Erin also learns about her options for victim compensation and decides to apply for funds under the Victims of Crime Act.
It isn’t easy, but over the next three years Erin is able to significantly improve her financial wellbeing. She relaunches her career, enrolls in a part-time graduate school program, and starts saving for the down payment of a home. Erin is independent, safe, and hopeful - things she never envisioned were possible when living with her abuser.
Our dream at FinAbility is for millions of survivors like Erin to find freedom and financial security through our services. No one’s journey will look exactly alike, but Erin’s is one example of how our trauma-informed and survivor-specific resources and services can support any survivor’s individual needs and goals.