Stability for Survivors: Freedom Through Financial Empowerment


by United Way of Metro Chicago

You start working shifts as a cashier at the grocery store. After receiving your first pay, you check the joint bank account you share with your spouse. You’re shocked to see the balance is low.

Your spouse tells you they’ve opened a new account and have transferred all of your savings and spending money. They say that working at the grocery store isn’t necessary and that you’re needed at home to watch your children and catch up on chores. Your spouse’s income is more than enough to cover your household expenses anyway.

You stop working at the grocery store. When you ask your spouse for money for groceries, they accuse you of spending too much. A haircut? Out of the question—you can do that yourself at home. A bike for exercise and to run errands? You’re told you’re being selfish and crazy.

Nearly 50% of people have experienced psychological abuse. Not to mention 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Financial abuse—when someone restricts another person from making, saving, or spending money—occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases and is often a main reason domestic violence survivors stay with an abusive partner. Because they can’t afford to leave.

Reclaiming Power and Financial Independence

This is why financial empowerment is so vital—and potentially life saving for domestic violence survivors. In 2020, United Way of Metro Chicago, The Allstate Foundation, and our community nonprofit partners came together to financially empower survivors during a time when incidents of domestic violence were on the rise due to the pandemic and stay-at-home restrictions.

The Stability for Survivors program connects community partners, like shelters, crisis centers, and counseling programs, with The Allstate Foundation’s Moving Ahead Curriculum, a five-module course designed to help domestic violence survivors achieve financial independence and rebuild their lives. The curriculum covers practical financial topics, such as budgeting, managing debt, and improving credit. It has been proven to help survivors move from short-term safety to long-term security.

Alongside the curriculum, the programs offer additional services, like job training and small business supports to survivors, as well as match-savings and micro-loan opportunities.

“We’re grateful to continue our longstanding partnership with United Way to support survivors of domestic violence,” said Francie Schnipke Richards, Vice President, Social Impact and The Allstate Foundation. “Every person should have the information and tools they need to create a safe, stable, and fulfilled life. Now, more than ever, it is critical to get financial resources in the hands of survivors in need.”

Stability for Survivors in Action at Anew

Anew, previously the South Suburban Family Shelter, is a Stability for Survivors program partner that uses The Allstate Foundation’s Moving Ahead Curriculum to train their counselors and offer financial literacy classes to people who have experienced violence. “This support has made a tremendous difference and impact for our counseling clients,” said Raphaelle Cappos, Counseling Program Manager at Anew.

“Part of their case management services with us is using The Allstate Foundation’s Moving Ahead Curriculum to assist with becoming more financially stable and independent,” Cappos continued. “Most of them have never had a savings account and now make deposits weekly or biweekly. They are learning how to save and plan to eventually use their savings on much-needed things, like finding a new place to live or doing maintenance or repairs on their homes, buying a new vehicle, immigration processing fees, and saving money for her children’s education.”

Through the curriculum and counseling at Anew, Annie* learned how to improve her credit, budget money, and open a bank account. She was also inspired to get her career back on track after she had lost her job because of the domestic violence she experienced.

“Learning these things made me feel empowered, like I had control of life and my kids’ lives,” Annie wrote. “As a survivor of [domestic violence], you want nothing more than to have your power back and a sense of control.”

Program Expands, Reaching More Survivors

Financial empowerment services, coupled with wraparound services like basic needs support and counseling, are critical to helping survivors like Annie rebuild their lives. And funders are taking note. In 2022, Crown Family Philanthropies joined United Way and The Allstate Foundation to support the Stability for Survivors program, allowing the initiative to expand and connect with more community partners—and empower more survivors to regain their sense of self and independence.

“We believe that all Chicagoans deserve a safe place to call home, as well as access to the resources necessary to empower healthy and fulfilling lives,” said Christy Prahl, Program Director of Health and Human Services at Crown Family Philanthropies. “The Stability for Survivors program provides a path to financial wellbeing and a more secure future for survivors and their children.”

Community partners participating in the Stability for Survivors program are:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please visit the above organizations’ websites for support and resources or call:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Network to End Domestic Violence
Council on Criminal Justice 

*Name changed for confidentiality

Column: South Suburban College provides domestic violence bystander intervention training for students and the public

By Francine Knowles

Daily Southtown

Oct 17, 2022 at 12:57 pm

South Suburban College staff members Claudia Rodriguez, clockwise from top left, Quantina McDaniels, Alexandra Glumac and Daisy Lopez support survivors of domestic violence by wearing purple on Thursdays during October. (Alexandra Glumac)

If domestic violence was happening in front of you, would you know how to respond?

For many people, the answer is no. South Suburban College is addressing that issue by conducting live and virtual bystander intervention trainings as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities.

“What we are trying to do is teach how to be aware that a domestic violence situation might be unfolding and if they were to encounter a situation — at school, in their own homes or out in the community, at athletic events or a party — the skill set to be able to do something about it,” said Alexandra Glumac, who is facilitating the training.

“Violence can’t be stopped unless people intervene,” said Glumac.

The trainings are part of a comprehensive effort underway at South Suburban to raise awareness on domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, to prevent such violence and assist victims.

The initiatives are funded by a three-year, $300,000 grant the college received from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. South Suburban is partnering with community victims’ services providers YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and Anew: Building Beyond Violence and Abuse.

The initiative addresses a critical need. Nationally, about one in three women and roughly one in four men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forty-three percent of dating college women report experiencing some violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, tech, verbal or controlling abuse, according to a poll by Fifth & Pacific Companies Inc.

In the bystander training sessions, participants learn intervention strategies including “direct involvement where you put yourself in situation and say things like ‘knock it off’ or ‘you can’t say that to her’ or ‘you have to stop,’” said Glumac.

Another strategy students are taught is distraction, which could be asking the abuser an irrelevant question, such as can you tell me where the library is, or do you know what time it is — something to distract the abuser and enable the victim to get away from the situation. A third strategy is getting assistance by calling on friends to help intervene or contacting the police, Glumac said.

In the sessions, the warning signs of domestic violence are discussed and information on resources available on campus and in the community are provided.

Faculty encourage students to attend the training, and many faculty give extra credit or make it part of their class syllabus for students to attend, Glumac said. All college athletes are required to take the training, she said.

LaSandra Hutchinson, community outreach specialist at Anew: Building Beyond Violence and Abuse. (LaSandra Hutchinson)

To further spotlight domestic violence, South Suburban worked with Anew, formerly South Suburban Family Shelter, to hold a Zoom Healthy Relationships workshop last week. Often people don’t realize they are in abusive relationships nor understand that abuse can take different forms, said LaSandra Hutchinson, Anew community outreach specialist, and Celeste Angulo, Anew community educator.

Abuse can be physical, psychological, sexual, spiritual and financial, and tactics used by perpetrators can include threats, intimidation, harassment, isolation, manipulation and coercion, they said. The components of a healthy relationship include respect, boundaries, honest communication, trust and accountability, and signs of an unhealthy relationship are abusive behavior, lack of communication and lack of boundaries, they said.

The session also included a discussion on myths. Some include that only women can be victims of domestic violence, only low-income people are victims and if situations were truly bad, people would leave.

There are barriers that often prevent individuals from leaving abusive situations, Hutchinson and Angulo said. Barriers include fear, lack of financial resources, insufficient shelters, culture, religious beliefs, love for the abuser and the belief they can change the abuser.

Latrice Jones, a student at South Suburban College, participated in the Healthy Relationships Zoom workshop and is a peer mentor at the college. (Latrice Jones)

South Suburban student Latrice Jones, who said she has experienced domestic violence and is a peer mentor at the college, participated in the bystander intervention training and the Healthy Relationships workshop.

“I learned how to positively intervene, safe ways to intervene and who to contact if we do see something,” she said.

That is knowledge she can share with other students, she said. She commended the college’s work to address domestic violence.

“I believe it’s essential to have it on campus,” Jones said. “Sometimes the person who is going through the abuse may feel they have no resources, no one to reach out to.”

By equipping students with knowledge, it positions them to help people on and off campus who are experiencing abuse, Jones said.

This month, as an act of solidarity against domestic violence, students, staff, south suburban businesses and community residents are being asked to wear purple on Thursdays and display purple window lights.

South Suburban will host a free Dating/Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Resource Forum & Expo, open to the general public and South Suburban students, faculty and staff, from 8-11 a.m. on Friday at the college’s Kindig Performing Arts Center, 15800 S. State St., South Holland. Jones said she plans to attend.

The event will feature service providers and offer information on local resources. Panelists will include Deborah Baness King, vice president of student & enrollment services at South Suburban; Ruben Lopez, an advocate at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago; Anew’s Angulo; and Sara Block, director of Advocacy at Ascend Justice. Registration is required. To learn more information or to register, go to visit

For more information on the South Suburban College domestic violence program, email Glumac at For domestic violence-related help, contact:

• YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago:

• Anew: Building Beyond Violence and Abuse:, emergency hotline 708-335-3028

• National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

Francine Knowles is a freelance columnist for the Daily Southtown.