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When your financial life takes a detour

After financial abuse or instability you may be struggling to get your footing, with no joy in sight. 


Here are some practical tips to get started.


If you or someone you know may be experiencing financial abuse, there are resources available. Visit Allstate Foundation’s domestic violence program for more information. 

Secure your financial safety.

  • Ensure that you have (or apply for) essential documents (social security card, driver’s license, birth certificates, etc.)

  • Create a system to store your essential documents safely.

  • If you are leaving (or have left) a partner: 

    • Communicate with your landlord/leasing agency and send a letter (SAMPLE) asking to break your lease agreement. Click here to learn about state and local laws, enacted as of December 2017, that affect the housing rights of domestic violence survivors. 

    • Ensure that your name is removed from household utility accounts. 

    • Remove additional users from your financial accounts/remove yourself from shared financial accounts.

  • Review your credit report for potential identity theft.

  • Research basic identity prevention theft measures.

  • Additional resources: 

Address financial barriers.

  • Review your credit report for debts.

  • If you will be searching for new housing:

    • Call your leasing agency/collection agency to setup a payment plan for any housing debt.

    • Create a savings plan for move-in costs (such as application fees, deposit and utility fees) 

    • Assess what your maximum rental payment could be. 

    • Create a spending plan for your new housing.

Obtain (or increase) income.

  • Create a resume or update your resume to include your recent experience. 

  • Determine where to store digital and physical copies of your resume.

  • Depending on your skill level, take computer classes to improve your ability to edit your resume and communicate with employers online.

  • Learn how to search for jobs and complete job applications.  

  • Review your current professional clothing and determine if outfits are needed.

  • Practice job interviewing. 

  • Identify resources for handling emergencies that would interfere with work attendance (e.g. backup childcare).

  • Outside employment isn't the only way to obtain income.  Brainstorm ways you can use your skills to earn money.  Are there services you can offer friends and neighbors? Can you sell items at yard sales, on ebay or on Etsy? Even putting aside small amounts of money from household spending may be an option.  

Learn about basic financial management

Financial abuse works by controlling access to money and other resources. It might include:

  • Controlling how money is spent.

  • Withholding money or “giving an allowance.”

  • Withholding basic living resources, medication or food.

  • Not allowing a partner to work or earn money. 

  • Stealing a partner’s identity, money, credit or property.

Financial abuse meets the definition of domestic violence. It is a pattern of behaviors or actions that are used to intimidate and threaten another person.

This information is intended to be general advice, but not everyone’s situation is the same. You may need specific advice for your situation. If so, contact a domestic violence advocate or

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